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Remember Actor Paul Winfield? Glimpse into His Personal Life and Relationships

Manuela Cardiga
Aug 09, 2021
04:27 P.M.
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The deceased actor Paul Winfield, who was known for his portrayal of a Louisiana sharecropper in the movie "Sounder," is now revealed as having lived with his life partner for over 30 years.


Paul Winfield, who died of a heart attack, was said to have been openly gay even though this news was not in the media. Winfield kept his sexuality under wraps, fearing that it might harm his career.

He was an Academy Award-nominated actor who was versatile on stage, in film, and on television. He was so good that his depiction of the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. in 1978 was highly praised.

Paul Winfield at the NAACP 12th Annual Theatre Awards November 12, 2001 in West Hollywood, California | Photo: Getty Images



Winfield was at the height of his career In 1973 when he was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor for the 1972 film "Sounder."

At that time, he was romantically involved and living with his co-star, Cicely Tyson. It was also around this time that Winfield started to come to terms with his sexual identity.

Paul Winfield and Mark Slade in "High Chaparral" in 1969 | Source: Wikimedia Commons, Public Domain.


Even though they were dating, they were both still seeing other people. According to him, he had trouble maintaining long-term intimate relations because of his need for uncritical affection.

Cicely Tyson passed away on January 28, 2021. Before her death, she was an Emmy- and Tony-winning actress. One thing people would always remember her for is that she never took a role that demeaned Black women.

Cicely Tyson and Paul Winfield during 45th Academy Award Rehearsals in Los Angeles | Source: Getty Images



In 1975, Winfield moved from Hollywood to San Francisco and embraced his identity as a gay man, at least in his private life. The "Star Trek" actor would go on to meet the love of his life, with whom he would spend the next three decades.

After his companion, Charles Gillan Jr., passed on from bone cancer in 2002, Winfield was distraught for two years. His loss seemed unbearable.


Winfield, who had been battling obesity and diabetes for many years, succumbed to a heart attack in 2004 at the Queen of Angels – Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center in Los Angeles.

He was buried alongside his beloved Gillian at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Los Angeles. Surely, even death could not keep them from being together.


When he battled with his health issues, he urged African Americans to lose weight because they are particularly susceptible to heart ailments.

He also felt his weight was why he didn't get certain roles. Winfield was survived by his sister, Patricia Wilson, of Las Vegas.

Paul Winfield poses at the 47th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards in Pasadena, California, in 1995 | Photo: Getty Images



Besides "Sounder," he was also known for his roles in "Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan," "The Terminator," "L.A. Law," and 24 episodes of the sitcom "227."

Another great movie he was known for was the 1984 thriller "Mike's Murderer," written and directed by James Bridges.

Paul Winfield as Big Sam in the six hour television mini-series, "Scarlett" | Photo: Getty Images


Although Paul Winfield spent most of his adult life concealing his sexuality from the public, there was one unforgettable moment in the movie when he poured out his own anguish and passion.

In the movie, Debra Winger is a woman struggling to come to terms with the murder of an ex-boyfriend. She confronts Winfield as a record executive who was once romantically involved with the dead lover.

In a powerful monologue, Winfield poured out all the repressed passion and sadness of a man forced to hide his love from an unforgiving world.

New generations of actors and actresses can now openly live their truth so that he would approve and applaud. He and his art came together as never before.