James Earl Jones, born January 17, 1931, grew up in the small town of Dublin, Michigan. He started taking dramatic lessons at an early age to calm himself down. He began his career with Stanley Kubrick’s “Dr. Strange Love” and, with a well-celebrated career, Jones is known as one of America’s most popular, most versatile, and most distinguished actors. In his six-decade career, Jones has won two Emmys, one Grammy, three Tonys, and one Golden Globe award. Another distinguishing factor about James Earl Jones is his voice, which has lent gravel and gravitas to two of the most popular characters: “Mufasa” and “Darth Vadar.”
James Earl Jones
January 17, 1931
James Earl Jones is a renowned American actor with a deep, resonant voice, and has charmed many moviegoers over the years. He was born in the U.S., and his father, Robert Earl Jones, had left the family before his birth. His grandparents raised Jones in Michigan. He attended the University of Michigan and majored in drama. After his graduation, he had a brief stint in the U.S. Army and then went to study at the American Theatre Wing in New York City. He made his Off-Broadway debut in 1957, and by 1961 he was a part of the New York Shakespeare Festival.
His career in film started in 1964 with the movie “Dr. Strangelove.” While starting to work in movies, he was also continuing his work in the theaters. He performed in Howard Sackler’s “The Great White Hope,” from 1968 to 1970. He won a Tony for his role in the play and received an Academy Award nomination for the film version. In 1978, he performed in a play named “Paul Robeson,” and in 1982, he played the titular role in “Othello” — and received critical acclaim for both roles.
In 1977, he voiced the character Darth Vadar for the first time and his deep voice hit the right notes of terror in the hearts of moviegoers. Jones’ movie roles also included an evil ruler in the fantasy film “Conan the Barbarian”, a coal miner in John Sayles’ “Matewan”, and an African king in the comedy “Coming to America.” In 1994, his voice acting paved the way for his popularity when he voiced Mufasa in “The Lion King.” He is the only voice actor to return to lend his voice in the 2019 remake of the movie. For his contribution to the film industry, he received an honorary Academy Award in 2011. In 2017, Jones also received a Tony Award for lifetime achievement.
Throughout his career, Jones has won three Tony Awards, two Emmy Awards, a Grammy Award, and an honorary Academy Award for lifetime achievement, making him one of the few stars who have won an E.G.O.T. His big-screen appearances diminished in the 21st century as he focused more on his Broadway endeavors. However, he made special appearances in movies and T.V. shows.
In 1968, Jones married American actress/singer Julienne Marie. The couple got divorced in 1972. In 1982, he married actress Cecilia Hart, and the couple had one son, Flynn.
After gaining popularity in the theatre world, Jones makes his debut in Hollywood with Stanley Kubrick's "Dr. Strangelove."
After about two nominations, Jones proves to be third time lucky when he wins a Tony for his part in "The Great White Hope."
Jones makes his name at the Grammys with his collaborative spoken word album, “Great American Documents,” for which he wins an award.
Jones becomes synonymous with one of the most iconic Hollywood villains as he lends his voice to the character of Darth Vadar in "Star Wars” episode four, ‘A New Hope.’
Everyone looks up to Mufasa's wise words in "The Lion King," and it’s Jones' deep voice that brings the character to life and creates such an impact.
Jones adds another feather to his cap with an honorary Academy Award for lifetime achievement, thus joining the elite E.G.O.T. winners.
Why We Love James Earl Jones
Jones has a contagious laugh
The world laughs along with James Earl Jones. His bright smile and twinkling eyes will always make us smile with him.
Jones' humility is awe-inspiring
Jones refused credit for his work in the first two Star Wars movies. He later explained that he didn't consider his contribution vital enough to deserve praise.
Jones has a band named after him
A Norwegian rock band called the "James Earl Jones Barbershop Explosion" named themselves after the actor. This shows the impact Jones has had on viewers outside of the U.S.
5 Surprising Facts
Jones had a stutter as a kid
He had a stuttering problem ever since he was a child and still struggles with it; he has to think before he talks to keep his problem in check.
Jones on C.N.N.’s tagline
Jones is the commanding voice behind the familiar sound, "This is C.N.N."
Once a victim of a death hoax
In 2015 Jones suffered a death hoax when a parody website posted news of the actor’s demise.
Jones is a Kennedy Center Honoree
He received the Kennedy Center Honor in December 2002.
The first African-American president in Hollywood
He was the first African-American actor to play the President of the United States, in "The Man."
James Earl Jones FAQs
Is James Earl Jones still alive in 2022?
Yes, the actor is alive and well.
Why was Jones cast as Darth Vader?
David Prowse portrayed Darth Vader in costume, but his strong accent was deemed unsuitable by director George Lucas, and so they needed an Orson Welles style of voice for the dubbing.
Is Jones half white?
Jones has Irish, Native American, and African in his makeup, and can be considered part white.
James Earl Jones’s birthday dates