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Over the course of his career, the late Paul Winfield was a critically acclaimed actor who was just the third Black person nominated for an acting Oscar. The Los Angeles native was born on May 22, 1939.

Winfield spent a portion of his youth in Portland, Oregon before returning to his hometown to complete high school. Facing segregation and racism at every turn, Winfield turned to acting and was mentored while in school en route to earning a scholarship to Yale University.

He turned down the scholarship and was quoted saying he felt the responsibility of attending a “rich school” in his words, would prove too difficult. He instead opted to study theater at the University of Oregon, Stanford University, and UCLA.

In 1966, actor Burgess Meredith gave Winfield his first big break by casting him in a pair of plays by poet Amiri Baraka (LeRoi Jones). Sidney Poitier helped Winfield get his first credited movie role in 1969 in the film The Lost Man, and in 1973, he was nominated for the Best Actor Academy Award for the film Sounder.

In 1994, Winfield won the Outstanding Guest Actor Emmy Award for his role in CBS’ Picket Fences after being nominated twice before. He was also an established voice and television actor, appearing in a number of bit roles well into the 21st Century.

Winfield was a gay man but rarely displayed that part of his personal life. He passed in 2004 at the age of 64.

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