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You weren’t going to the theater to change the world, but you had a chance to affect the world, the thinking and the feelings of the world.
James Earl Jones
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About James Earl Jones

James Earl Jones is an American actor who in a career of more than 60 years became known as “one of America’s most distinguished and versatile” actors and “one of the greatest actors in American history.” Since his Broadway debut in 1957, Jones has won many awards, including a Tony Award, a Golden Globe Award, three Emmy Awards, including two in the same year in 1991, and he also earned an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor in a Leading Role in the film version of The Great White Hope. On November 12, 2011, he received an Honorary Academy Award. He received Kennedy Center Honors in 2002.

After being educated at the University of Michigan, he joined the Reserve Officer Training Corps, and excelled. After the Korean War, he moved to New York, where he studied at the American Theatre Wing, working as a janitor to support himself.

He has acted in many Shakespearean roles: Othello, King Lear, Oberon in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Abhorson in Measure for Measure, and Claudius in Hamlet. Jones played Lennie on Broadway in the 1974 adaptation of Of Mice and Men. In 2015 Jones opened a new revival of The Gin Game opposite Cicely Tyson, in the same venue where the play originally premiered (with Hume Cronyn and Jessica Tandy): the John Golden Theater.
His voice roles include Darth Vader in the original Star Wars trilogy and Mufasa in the 1994 animated Disney film The Lion King. Jones has the distinction of being the only actor to win two Emmys in the same year, in 1991 as Best Actor for his role in Gabriel’s Fire and as Best Supporting Actor for his work in Heat Wave.

Videos

American Theatre Wing Gala 2015: Honoring James Earl Jones

James Earl Jones Performs Shakespeare at the White House Poetry Jam

James Earl Jones - Behind the Scenes | American Masters on PBS

From stutterer to star: James Earl Jones - PBS NewsHour

Audio

Select Credits

  • The Gin Game - Weller Martin, John Golden Theatre
  • You Can't Take It With You - Martin Vanderhof, Longacre Theatre
  • Driving Miss Daisy - Hoke Colburn, John Golden Theatre
  • Cat on a Hot Tin Roof - Big Daddy, John Golden Theatre
  • Fences - Troy Maxson, Richard Rodgers Theatre

    1987 Tony Award Best Actor in Play

  • The Great White Hope - Jack Jefferson, Neil Simon Theatre

    1969 Tony Award® Best Actor in Play

  • Sunrise at Campobello - Edward, Cort Theatre