Must-see performances from the late Oscar-nominated actor.

In 1973, Paul Winfield became only the third African American in Oscar history to be nominated for the Best Actor award. During an era when roles offered to black actors in Hollywood were few and often unimpressive, Winfield consistently dazzled audiences both in groundbreaking dramatic roles and in lighter pieces that showcased his memorable voice. This month, with the Oscars once again on the horizon, we remember 10 of the great actor's most career-defining roles.

10. "R.P.M." One of Winfield's earliest movie roles was in Stanley Kramer's 1970 film "R.P.M.," in which Winfield played a young black activist trying to bring change to a university. It wasn't the greatest movie ever, but it gave Winfield a leg up in the movie industry.

9. "Roots: The Next Generations." One of the 1970s' greatest epics of the African-American experience was Alex Haley's "Roots," and Winfield had a chance to be a part of it. Though he wasn't in the original TV miniseries, he was cast as Dr. Horace Huguley in the popular 1979 sequel, and was nominated for an Emmy for the role.

8. "Picket Fences." Sixteen years later, Winfield won an Emmy. It was for a guest role on the popular drama "Picket Fences," playing Judge Harold Nance.

7. "King." Winfield portrayed one of history's great leaders when he took the lead role in the 1978 NBC miniseries "King" alongside costar Cicely Tyson. His dramatization of the life of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. earned him an Emmy nomination.

6. "The Lost Man." It was a small role with low billing, but it was a crucial one – it was Winfield's first major film appearance. Sidney Poitier, star of the film, hired him for the part.


5. "Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan." Winfield enjoyed a prominent role in the Star Trek franchise twice: first, in the movie "The Wrath of Khan," as a Starfleet captain who came under the thrall of Ricardo Montalban's epic villain Khan Noonien Singh...

4. "Star Trek: The Next Generation" ...and once in the "Next Generation" episode "Darmok," starring alongside Patrick Stewart's Jean-Luc Picard as an alien captain whose people could only speak in metaphors.

3. "City Confidential." Another important facet of Winfield's career was his voice acting. His commanding tones were well known, and he was sought after for a number of voice-only roles. His longest lasting stint was as the narrator for A&E's crime documentary "City Confidential" from 1998 until his death in 2004. He also voiced characters on two episodes of "The Simpsons."

2. "Julia." The 1968-1971 Diahann Carroll sitcom "Julia" was groundbreaking, the first weekly series to focus on an African-American woman in a non-stereotypical role. Carroll played a nurse who worked in a doctor's office, and Winfield played one of her character's love interests.

1. "Sounder." Perhaps Winfield's finest hour was his other costarring turn with Cicely Tyson: the 1972 movie "Sounder," in which he played a Louisiana sharecropper during the Great Depression. The movie was a critical and popular success, and Winfield was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actor – only the third African American to be nominated for that honor.

Written by Linnea Crowther. Find her on Google+.