Paul Edward Winfield (May 22, 1939 – March 7, 2004) was an Emmy Award-winning and Academy Award-nominated American television and film actor. He was known for his portrayal of a Louisiana sharecropper who struggles to support his family during the Great Depression in the landmark film Sounder and as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in the television miniseries King. Off camera, Winfield narrated the television crime series City Confidential.
In 1973, Winfield was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor for the 1972 film Sounder, and his co-star in that film, Cicely Tyson, was nominated for Best Actress. Prior to their nominations, only two other African Americans - Dorothy Dandridge and Sidney Poitier - had ever been nominated for a leading role. He also appeared, in a different role, in the 2003 Disney-produced television remake of Sounder, which was directed by Kevin Hooks, his co-star from the original. Winfield played the part of “Jim the Slave” in Huckleberry Finn (1974) which was a musical based on the novel by Mark Twain. Winfield would recall late in his career that as a young actor he had played one of the two leads in Of Mice and Men in local repertory, made up in whiteface, since a black actor playing it would have been unthinkable. Winfield also starred in more recent miniseries, including Roots: The Next Generations, Alex Haley'sQueen: The Story of an American Family and Scarlett.
The actor gained a new segment of fans for his brief but memorable roles in several science fiction TV programs and movies. He portrayed Captain Clark Terrell, an unwilling minion of Khan Noonien Singh, in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan and a friendly but crusty cop partnered with Lance Henriksen in The Terminator starring Arnold Schwarzenegger. In 1995 he was part of the 'name' ensemble cast in Tim Burton's comic homage to 1950's sci-fiMars Attacks!, playing the complacently self-satisfied chickenhawk Lt-Gen. Casey. On the small screen Star Trek franchise, he appeared as an alien captain who communicates in metaphor in the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode “Darmok”. He also appeared on Babylon 5, as General Richard Franklin, the father of regular character Dr. Stephen Franklin, in the second season episode "Gropos."
Winfield found success off-camera due to his unique voice. He provided voices on the cartoons Spider-Man, The Magic School Bus, Batman Beyond, K10C, and The Simpsons, on the latter voicing the Don King parody Lucius Sweet. In his voiceover career, he perhaps best-known as the narrator for the A&E true crime series City Confidential, a role he began in 1998 and continued with until his death in 2004.
Throughout his career, Winfield frequently managed to perform in the theater. His only Broadway production, Checkmates, in 1988, co-starring Ruby Dee, was also the Broadway debut of Denzel Washington. He also appeared in productions at the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles, and The Shakespeare Theatre in Washington, D.C.
He was nominated for an Emmy Award for his performance in the King and Roots: The Next Generations. He won an Emmy Award, in 1995, for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series, for his appearance as Judge Harold Nance in an episode of the CBS drama Picket Fences.
Winfield died of a heart attack in 2004 at the age of 64. His partner of 30 years, architect Charles Gillan, Jr., died March 5, 2002 of bone cancer. He is interred at Forest Lawn - Hollywood Hills Cemetery.
People in Wireless Verticals: The New York Times Names Charles Strum Associate Managing Editor and Paul Winfield News Editor
Jan 08, 2006; Wireless News 01-08-2006 People in Wireless Verticals: The New York Times Names Charles Strum Associate Managing Editor and Paul...