Paul Winfield became the third African American to earn a Best Actor Oscar nomination with his breakout role as a sharecropper in 1972's Sounder. He followed that with standout performances on TV as Martin Luther King Jr. in King and in Roots: The Next Generations. But the L.A.-bred actor, who died of a heart attack March 7 at age 62, didn't quite reach a level of stardom that matched his powerful screen presence. ''It's unfortunate that he never achieved the kind of recognition equivalent to his talent,'' says actress Cicely Tyson, whose turn as Winfield's wife in Sounder also earned her an Oscar nomination. Winfield went on to land roles in such high-profile movies as Star Trek II and The Terminator and won a 1995 Emmy for his guest spot on Picket Fences. ''He was brilliant... extraordinary to work with,'' Tyson recalls. ''It was like not working at all.''