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Winfield, Paul 1941–

Paul Winfield 1941

Actor

At a Glance

Acclaimed in Sounder

Honored With Emmy Nominations

Dubbed Folk Hero in Presumed Innocent

Sources

Throughout his long and distinguished career, American actor Paul Winfield has sought out roles that raise the status of blacks. Playing the boyfriend of Diahann Carroll in the series Julia in 1968, Winfield joined Carroll in breaking the television barrier against black performers. Five years later, he humanized the black man in his Oscar-nominated role in the movie Sounder. In addition, Winfield won Emmy Award nominations in 1978 for his portrayal of Dr. Martin Luther King in the television movie King and of Dr. Horace Huguley in Roots: The Next Generation the following year. During the civil rights revolution of the mid-1960s, the socially committed Winfield almost gave up acting for a political career. He told Alan Ebert in Essence, I saw then I could do a helluva a lot more for Blacks by being a Black artist rather than a Black activist. The veteran performer achieved one of his most acclaimed roles in the 1990 feature film Presumed Innocent, playing the sarcastically sagacious Judge Larren Lyttle.

Winfield initially became aware of racial inequity as a youngster living in Portland, Oregon, when the motion picture Home of the Brave was released in 1949. In an American Film article, he recalled a discussion between his neighbors and family about the film, which focuses on discrimination in the military: I remember people saying, Well, theres this movie, and were not going to sit up in nigger heaven anymore to see it. I just thought we sat in the balcony because thats where my parents wanted to sit. Home of the Brave convinced Winfield of the powerful role film could play in changing peoples attitudes about the status of blacks in society. The injustice of the Jim Crow laws that prevented blacks from occupying the better seats on the lower level of theaterseven when viewing a film about black peoplesuddenly became tangible to the young boy. What was most impressive, Winfield disclosed in American Film, as I later learned, was that because of this one film, Jim Crow laws toppled, without riots, without dogs or firehoses.

Born May 22, 1941, in Los Angeles, California, Winfield was the illegitimate son of garment-industry union organizer, Lois Edwards. Precocious as a youngster, he was taken to a psychiatrist when he was three. I wasnt a particularly disturbed child, Winfield told Ebert, but I wasnt a normal one eitherat least not according to the

At a Glance

Born Paul Edward Winfield, May 22, 1941, in Los Angeles, CA; son of Clarence (a construction worker) and Lois Beatrice (a union organizer in the garment industry; maiden name, Edwards) Winfield. Education : Attended the University of Portland, 1957-59, Stanford University, 1959, Los Angeles City College, 1959-63, University of California, Los Angeles, 1962-64, University of Hawaii, 1965, and University of California, Santa Barbara, 1970-71; artist-in-residence at Stanford University, 1964-65.

Actor, 1964. Stage credits include Othello, A Midsummer Nights Dream, The Merry Wives of Windsor, The Seagull, An Enemy of the People, and Love Letters. Film credits include The Lost Man, R.P.M., Trouble Man, Sounder, Gordons War, Conrack, Huckleberry Finn, Damnation Alley, The Greatest, A Hero Aint Nothin But a Sandwich, Twilights Last Gleaming, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, Mikes Murder, The Terminator, Blue City, Death Before Dishonor, Big Shots, The Serpent and the Rainbow, and Presumed Innocent. Television credits include appearances in series Julia, The Charmings, Wise Guys, 227, and The Women of Brewster Place; in miniseries, including Backstairs at the White House, Roots: The Next Generation, and The Blue and the Gray; and in television movies, including King, Under Siege, Guilty of Innocence: The Lenell Geter Story, and Back to Hannibal.

Awards: Academy Award nomination for best actor, 1973, for Sounder; Emmy Award nominations, 1978, for King, and 1979, for Roots: The Next Generation.

Addresses: Home Los Angeles, CA. Office c/o Artists Agency, 10000 Santa Monica Boulevard, Suite 305, Los Angeles, CA 90067.

books my mother fed on. I didnt fit a Dr. Spock mold. His mother married when Winfield was eight years old. His stepfather, Clarence Winfield, was a construction worker whose job forced the family to move. Paul, his half sister, and two half brothers lived in various locations, including the Watts section of Los Angeles and Portland, Oregon. They [his mother and stepfather] worked hard to keep me unaware we were deprived, Winfield related to Lois Armstrong in people, but there was always a financial struggle. I was an intellectual snob who thought it was my right to read late into the night and run up an electric bill. Thats the kind of contempt and cruelty that only youth can impose.

As an adolescent, Winfield was bused to the predominantly white Manual Arts High School in Los Angeles, where he earned recognition as best actor two years in a row by the Southern California Speech and Drama Teachers Association. An excellent student who was adept at violin and cello, he later won a scholarship to Yale University. As Winfield divulged to Armstrong, he thought college was scary enough without going to a rich one, so he accepted a scholarship in drama at the University of Oregon. Winfield attended a number of West Coast schools before entering the University of California at Los Angeles. Only six credits short of a bachelors degree, he left UCLA in 1964 to appear in professional productions of LeRoi Joness The Dutchman and The Toilet. Two years later, he signed a contract with Columbia Studios.

Winfield made guest appearances on television shows, including Room 222 and Name of the Game, during the late 1960sa time when acting roles for blacks were limited, stereotypical, and one-dimensional. The concept of the black heroan exaggerated reaction to the negative roles that blacks had played so often in the pastbegan in the 1970s in movies like Shaft and Super Fly. Such portraits of blacks disturbed Winfield. They are offensive and unreal, he disclosed to Ebert. The Black hero in [such] film[s] is no man at all. He is a thing; a sex object and a sexist. Hes without tenderness, without feelings and, far worse, without humanity.

Acclaimed in Sounder

In 1972 Winfield discontinued his boycott of the kind of movies he termed blaxploitation to film Trouble Man, since the film served to open craft unions to black people. He had considered his role on the television series Julia to be his only meaningful acting endeavor until landing the lead in the movie Sounder opposite Cicely Tyson. In the role of Nathan, the sharecropper father, Winfield movingly depicted the frustration of poverty for blacks in the late nineteenth century. Sounder turns on the character of Nathan, who steals a ham to feed his family and is arrested. His dog, Sounder, is injured in the arrest. Winfields portrayal of the maimed Nathan returning home from imprisonment won him an Oscar nomination for best actor in 1973. Tyson was the added ingredient in his life that makes it all work the actor told Ebert after filming Sounder, but their relationship did not turn out to be the lifer he assumed. I was extremely competitive, Winfield confessed to Armstrong. I was hostile to the attention she was getting, even though it was due. The couple lived together a year and a half before their relationship ended.

After filming Gordons War and Conrack in 1974, Winfield took the role of the runaway slave Jim in the film Huckleberry Finn. Interviewed in a 1973 edition of the Chicago Tribune, he was asked how he felt to be within view of a Southern mansion built in 1855 that was part of the movie setting: Its an awful pretty show, an awful pretty front for an awful lot of ugliness, he replied.

Honored With Emmy Nominations

Winfield moved to San Francisco in 1975 to find out who I was without being an actor, he told Armstrong. The following year he and Tyson both refused to do a sequel to Sounder, explaining to Armstrong, You couldnt top the original, and this would be a step backward. Throughout the 1970s, he was working steadily in theater releases, including Damnation Alley and The Greatest, and several television movies. But critical acclaim eluded him until 1978, when he was nominated for an Emmy Award for his portrayal of Dr. Martin Luther King in the NBC docudrama King. People called his evocation of King stunning. In carefully researching the role of the Southern Baptist minister, Winfield saw the relevance of the legendary activists work to his own career. He told Armstrong, Without King, I wouldnt have had the opportunities Ive had as an actor.

People cited the premiere of his 1978 movie A Hero Aint Nothin But a Sandwich as urbanized, but equally affecting as Sounder and dubbed Winfield the most ubiquitous black TV/movie actor of the decade. Personal relationships were apparently secondary to his career to him in this period. As he told Armstrong, I was so busy being other people that my own life was in shambles. What I thought were wonderful relationships were simply not. A girl I was involved with committed suicide because I wasnt therenot just physically, but emotionally. Winfield revived his relationship on a friendship basis with Cicely Tyson, who was his leading lady in both King and Hero, and ended the decade with a second Emmy nomination for his role in the 1979 miniseries Roots: The Next Generation, a sequel to the highly acclaimed miniseries Roots.

A prodigious performer, Winfield worked in weekly television series during the 1980s while maintaining a roster of stage and movie performances. He appeared in many films, including Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan and The Terminator, and graced the small screen as a cast member of the television series The Charmings, Wise Guy, 227, and The Women of Brewster Place. His stage work culminated in performances in several Shakespearean plays, including A Midsummers Night Dream and the title role in Othello, as well as appearances in Anton Chekhovs Seagull, Henrik Ibsens Enemy of the People, and Ron Milners play Checkmates, which premiered on Broadway in 1988. Winfield, who had moved back to Los Angeles in the 1980s, already enjoyed a reputation as an established and professional actor when he was offered one of his most celebrated roles at the beginning of the 1990s.

Dubbed Folk Hero in Presumed Innocent

On charges of stealing the show, Paul Winfield is presumed guilty, ruled Tim Allis in People in 1990, assessing Winfields role as Judge Larren Lyttle in the popular movie release Presumed Innocent, which grossed over $28 million dollars in the first two weeks of its premiere. Based on Scott Turows best-selling novel, the film revolves around a prosecuting attorney named Rusty Sabich who is accused of murdering fellow lawyer and former lover Carolyn Polhemus. Winfield plays the judge who presides over Sabichs trial. Winfields sardonic knowingness was among the excellent things about the movie, as noted by Richard Schickel in his review for Time. Terrence Rafferty added his commendations in the New Yorker, writing, As the no-nonsense judge presiding over Rustys murder trial, Paul Winfield provides some sorely needed comedy; his gusto is irresistible. Reacting to the first preview of the film, its director Alan J. Pakula told Allis, Well, Paul went in as an actor playing the judge, and he came out a folk hero.

The nineties have seen no work shortage for Winfield, who appeared in A. R. Gurneys play Love Letters opposite Diahann Carroll in Los Angeles and worked on the Disney television movie Back to Hannibal as a sequel to Huck Finn. In 1991 he played Sir John Falstaff in Shakespeares Merry Wives of Windsor at the Folger Shakespeare Library summer outdoor theater in Washington, D.C. At home in a three bedroom house valued near $1 million in the Los Feliz section of Los Angeles, the unmarried Winfield cares for his five pug dogs named Oliver, Othello, Phoebe, Bubbi, and Desdemona. Though his living conditions have changed over the years, his concern for racial status appears to have remained immutable. He published an essay in the New York Times admonishing Actors Equity for not upholding fair casting practices when the British production of the play Miss Saigon cast a Caucasian in the part of a Eurasian. Winfield, who is committed to the difference film can make upon issues of social consciousness, is prospering in a period of his career that People concluded is something of a second honeymoon.

Sources

American Film, May, 1991.

Chicago Tribune, August 26, 1973.

Cosmopolitan, September, 1990.

Essence, June, 1973.

Jet, August 21, 1989; May 21, 1990.

People, February 13, 1978; March 23, 1987; August 6, 1990; August 20, 1990.

Playboy, October, 1990.

New York, February 10, 1986; August 22, 1988.

New Yorker, June 30, 1986; August 13, 1990.

New York Times, August 5, 1988; May 31, 1989; January 14, 1990; June 8, 1990; August 18, 1990; June 4, 1991; July 12, 1991.

Time, July 30, 1990.

Variety, July 25, 1990.

Marjorie Burgess

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Winfield, Paul 1941–2004

Paul Winfield 19412004

Actor

Became Aware of Racial Inequity

Began Film Career

Performed in Television, Stage and Film

Sources

Throughout his long and distinguished career, American actor Paul Winfield sought out roles that raised the status of blacks. Playing the boyfriend of Diahann Carroll in the series Julia in 1968, Winfield joined Carroll in breaking the television barrier against black performers. Five years later, he humanized the black man in his Oscar-nominated role in the movie Sounder. In addition, Winfield won Emmy Award nominations in 1978 for his portrayal of Dr. Martin Luther King in the television movie King and of Dr. Horace Huguley in Roots: The Next Generation the following year. During the civil rights revolution of the mid-1960s, the socially committed Winfield almost gave up acting for a political career. He told Alan Ebert in Essence, I saw then I could do a helluva a lot more for Blacks by being a Black artist rather than a Black activist. The veteran performer achieved one of his most acclaimed roles in the 1990 feature film Presumed Innocent, playing the sarcastically sagacious Judge Larren Lyttle.

Became Aware of Racial Inequity

Winfield initially became aware of racial inequity as a youngster living in Portland, Oregon, when the motion picture Home of the Brave was released in 1949. In an American Film article, he recalled a discussion between his neighbors and family about the film, which focuses on discrimination in the military: I remember people saying, Well, theres this movie, and were not going to sit up in nigger heaven anymore to see it. I just thought we sat in the balcony because thats where my parents wanted to sit. Home of the Brave convinced Winfield of the powerful role film could play in changing peoples attitudes about the status of blacks in society. The injustice of the Jim Crow laws that prevented blacks from occupying the better seats on the lower level of theaterseven when viewing a film about black peoplesuddenly became tangible to the young boy. What was most impressive, Winfield disclosed in American Film, as I later learned, was that because of this one film, Jim Crow laws toppled, without riots, without dogs or firehoses.

Born on May 22, 1941, in Los Angeles, California, Winfield was the illegitimate son of garment-industry union organizer, Lois Edwards. Precocious as a youngster, he was taken to a psychiatrist when he was three. I wasnt a particularly disturbed child, Winfield told Ebert, but I wasnt a normal one eitherat least not according to the books my mother fed on. I didnt fit a Dr. Spock mold. His mother married when Winfield was eight years old. His stepfather, Clarence Winfield, was a construction worker whose job forced the family to move. Paul, his half sister, and two half brothers lived in various locations, including the Watts section of Los Angeles and Portland, Oregon. They (his mother and stepfather) worked hard to keep me unaware we were deprived, Winfield related to Lois Armstrong in People, but there was always a financial struggle. I was an intellectual snob who thought it was my right to read late into the night and run up an electric bill. Thats the kind of contempt and cruelty that only youth can impose.

At a Glance

Born Paul Edward Winfield on May 22, 1941, in Los Angeles, CA; died on March 7, 2004, in Los Angeles, CA; son of Clarence (a construction worker) and Lois Beatrice (a union organizer in the garment industry; maiden name, Edwards) Winfield. Education: Attended the University of Portland, 1957-59; Stanford University, 1959; Los Angeles City College, 1959-63;University of California, Los Angeles, 1962-64; University of Hawaii, 1965; University of California, Santa Barbara, 1970-71.

Career: Actor, 1964-2004; Stanford University, artistin-residence, 1964-65.

Awards: Academy Award nomination for best actor, 1973, for Sounder; Emmy Award nominations, 1978, for King, and 1979, for Roots: The Next Generation; Emmy Award, 1995, for a guest performance on the Picket Fences episode Enemy Lines.

As an adolescent, Winfield was bused to the predominantly white Manual Arts High School in Los Angeles, where he earned recognition as best actor two years in a row by the Southern California Speech and Drama Teachers Association. An excellent student who was adept at violin and cello, he later won a scholarship to Yale University. As Winfield divulged to Armstrong, he thought college was scary enough without going to a rich one, so he accepted a scholarship in drama at the University of Oregon. Winfield attended a number of West Coast schools before entering the University of California at Los Angeles. Only six credits short of a bachelors degree, he left UCLA in 1964 to appear in professional productions of LeRoi Joness The Dutchman and The Toilet Two years later, he signed a contract with Columbia Studios.

Winfield made guest appearances on television shows, including Room 222 and Name of the Game, during the late 1960s, a time when acting roles for blacks were limited, stereotypical, and one-dimensional. The concept of the black heroan exaggerated reaction to the negative roles that blacks had played so often in the pastbegan in the 1970s in movies like Shaft and Super Fly. Such portraits of blacks disturbed Winfield. They are offensive and unreal, he disclosed to Ebert. The Black hero in [such] film[s]is no man at all. He is a thing; a sex object and a sexist. Hes without tenderness, without feelings and, far worse, without humanity.

Began Film Career

In 1972 Winfield discontinued his boycott of the kind of movies he termed blaxploitation to film Trouble Man, since the film served to open craft unions to black people. He had considered his role on the television series Julia to be his only meaningful acting endeavor until landing the lead in the movie Sounder opposite Cicely Tyson. In the role of Nathan, the sharecropper father, Winfield movingly depicted the frustration of poverty for blacks in the late nineteenth century. Sounder turns on the character of Nathan, who steals a ham to feed his family and is arrested. His dog, Sounder, is injured in the arrest. Winfields portrayal of the maimed Nathan returning home from imprisonment won him an Oscar nomination for best actor in 1973. Tyson was the added ingredient in his life that makes it all work the actor told Ebert after filming Sounder, but their relationship did not turn out to be the lifer he assumed. I was extremely competitive, Winfield confessed to Armstrong. I was hostile to the attention she was getting, even though it was due. The couple lived together a year and a half before their relationship ended.

After filming Gordons War and Conrack in 1974, Winfield took the role of the runaway slave Jim in the film Huckleberry Finn. Interviewed in a 1973 edition of the Chicago Tribune, he was asked how he felt to be within view of a Southern mansion built in 1855 that was part of the movie setting: Its an awful pretty show, an awful pretty front for an awful lot of ugliness, he replied.

Winfield moved to San Francisco in 1975 to find out who I was without being an actor, he told Armstrong. The following year he and Tyson both refused to do a sequel to Sounder, explaining to Armstrong, You couldnt top the original, and this would be a step backward. Throughout the 1970s, he was working steadily in theater releases, including Damnation Alley and The Greatest, and several television movies. But critical acclaim eluded him until 1978, when he was nominated for an Emmy Award for his portrayal of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in the NBC docudrama King. People called his evocation of King stunning. In carefully researching the role of the Southern Baptist minister, Winfield saw the relevance of the legendary activists work to his own career. He told Armstrong, Without King, I wouldnt have had the opportunities Ive had as an actor.

People cited the premiere of his 1978 movie A Hero Aint Nothin But a Sandwich as urbanized, but equally affecting as Sounder and dubbed Winfield the most ubiquitous black TV/movie actor of the decade. Personal relationships were apparently secondary to his career to him in this period. As he told Armstrong, I was so busy being other people that my own life was in shambles. What I thought were wonderful relationships were simply not. A girl I was involved with committed suicide because I wasnt therenot just physically, but emotionally. Winfield revived his relationship on a friendship basis with Cicely Tyson, who was his leading lady in both King and Hero, and ended the decade with a second Emmy nomination for his role in the 1979 miniseries Roots: The Next Generation, a sequel to the highly acclaimed miniseries Roots.

Performed in Television, Stage and Film

A prodigious performer, Winfield worked in weekly television series during the 1980s while maintaining a roster of stage and movie performances. He appeared in many films, including Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan and The Terminator, and graced the small screen as a cast member of the television series The Charmings, Wise Guy, 227, and The Women of Brewster Place. His stage work culminated in performances in several Shakespearean plays, including A Midsummers Night Dream and the title role in Othello, as well as appearances in Anton Chekhovs Seagull, Henrik Ibsens Enemy of the People, and Ron Milners play Checkmates, which premiered on Broadway in 1988. Winfield, who had moved back to Los Angeles in the 1980s, already enjoyed a reputation as an established and professional actor when he was offered one of his most celebrated roles at the beginning of the 1990s.

On charges of stealing the show, Paul Winfield is presumed guilty, ruled Tim Allis in People in 1990, assessing Winfields role as Judge Larren Lyttle in the popular movie release Presumed Innocent, which grossed over $28 million dollars in the first two weeks of its premiere. Based on Scott Turows best-selling novel, the film revolves around a prosecuting attorney named Rusty Sabich who is accused of murdering fellow lawyer and former lover Carolyn Polhemus. Winfield plays the judge who presides over Sabichs trial. Winfields sardonic knowingness was among the excellent things about the movie, as noted by Richard Schickel in his review for Time. Terrence Rafferty added his commendations in the New Yorker, writing, As the no-nonsense judge presiding over Rustys murder trial, Paul Winfield provides some sorely needed comedy; his gusto is irresistible. Reacting to the first preview of the film, its director Alan J. Pakula told Allis, Well, Paul went in as an actor playing the judge, and he came out a folk hero.

The 1990s saw no work shortage for Winfield; People concluded the period of his career was something of a second honeymoon. Winfield appeared in A. R. Gurneys play Love Letters opposite Diahann Carroll in Los Angeles and worked on the Disney television movie Back to Hannibal as a sequel to Huck Finn. In 1991 he played Sir John Falstaff in Shakespeares Merry Wives of Windsor at the Folger Shakespeare Library summer outdoor theater in Washington, D.C. In 1998 he narrated the A&E series City Confidential. His last role was in the 2003 television film remake of Sounder. After struggling with obesity and diabetes for more than two decades, Winfield died on March 7, 2004, in Los Angeles.

Sources

Periodicals

American Film, May, 1991.

Chicago Tribune, August 26, 1973.

Cosmopolitan, September, 1990.

Essence, June, 1973.

Jet, August 21, 1989; May 21, 1990; March 12, 2001.

Los Angeles Times, March 9, 2004.

New York, February 10, 1986; August 22, 1988.

New Yorker, June 30, 1986; August 13, 1990.

New York Times, August 5, 1988; May 31, 1989; January 14, 1990; June 8, 1990; August 18, 1990; June 4, 1991; July 12, 1991; March 9, 2004.

People, February 13, 1978; March 23, 1987; August 6, 1990; August 20, 1990.

Playboy, October, 1990.

Time, July 30, 1990.

Variety, July 25, 1990; March 15, 2004.

Tom and Sara Pendergast

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"Winfield, Paul 1941–2004." Contemporary Black Biography. . Encyclopedia.com. 23 Jul. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Winfield, Paul 1941–2004." Contemporary Black Biography. . Encyclopedia.com. (July 23, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/winfield-paul-1941-2004

"Winfield, Paul 1941–2004." Contemporary Black Biography. . Retrieved July 23, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/winfield-paul-1941-2004