Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Born On This Day- May 22nd... Actor Paul Winfield

I was just 19 years old when I was emotionally crippled by the film Sounder, the last to leave the theatre as I was weeping myself sick. It a terrifyingly moving experience, & am destroyed by stories of racial injustice & dog stories send me over the edge of sadness. I recommend this excellent film from 1972, but know that I warned you. Sounder received Academy Award Nominations for Best Film, Best Actor for Paul Winfield, Best Actress for Cicely Tyson & Best Adapted Screenplay. The film was my introduction to the work of Paul Winfield.

Paul Edward Winfield was openly gay in his private life, but like other actors of the era, he was discreet about it in his professional life.

Winfield was born in LA on this day- May22nd in 1939.  He was first became noticed playing opposite Diahann Carroll on the TV series Julia. He played the title role in the 1978 miniseries King. When he was nominated for the Oscar for the 1972 film Sounder, he become just the 3rd African American to receive a nomination for a leading role, after Dorothy Dandridge & Sidney Poitier. Around the same time, Winfield played Jim in the dreadful musical film- Huckleberry Finn.

Winfield worked in the miniseries: Roots: The Next GenerationsQueen: The Story of an American Family & Scarlett.

Films include: Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan & The Terminator; on TV:  Babylon 5,&Star Trek: The Next Generation, Family Matters & City Confidential. Winfield was a gifted voice-over artist: Spider-ManThe Magic School BusBatman Beyond, &The Simpsons.

He won an Emmy Award, in 1995, for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series, for his appearance in an episode of the CBS drama Picket Fences.

Winfield died of a heart attack in 2004; he was 64 years old. His long-time partner of 30+ years- architect Charles Gillan Jr., preceded him in death in 2002. They are buried together at Forest Lawn.

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