James Earl Jones – MovieActors.com
Jones in FIELD OF DREAMS.
About James Earl Jones (1931 – )
James Earl Jones was born with the name, Todd Earl Jones, on January 17, 1931, in Arkabutla, Mississippi, to African-American, sharecropper parents; Robert Earl Jones and Ruth Connolly Jones. His father was a "jack of all trades", doing what he could to earn money; mainly boxing, butlering, chauffering and participating in thespian endeavors. His mother was a teacher and a maid. James has a brother, Matthew, who was raised by other relatives, if not by his mother.
As a child, James went by the nickname Todd. Sometimes when a marriage goes sour, one of the parents doesn't want the responsibility of being a parent anymore, and flees. Robert left soon after James was born, to pursue his acting and boxing careers, never looking back.
It wasn't until years later, that Robert recounciled with his son, James, when James was just staring out as an actor. They were on stage together three times: INFIDEL CEASAR;(1962), MOON ON A RAINBOW SHAWL;(1962), and OF MICE AND MEN;(1967). Though Robert wasn't around to raise James, he was around to cheer James on, encourage him, and have a sense of pride in James' vast accomplishments, as Robert didn't die until 2006.
Apparently, "The apple didn't fall far from the tree!" Robert did make something of his life; first becoming a prize fighter, then went on to become the FIRST prominent black film star. He is known for his performances in THE NOTORIOIUS ELINOR LEE;(1940), MISSISSIPPI SUMMER;(1971), THE STING;(1973), TRADING PLACES;(1983), WITNESS;(1985) and SLEEPAWAY CAMP;(1983).
James Earl Jones had a hard childhood. When James was five, he was shipped off alone to his maternal grandparents in Jackson, Michigan, who owned a farm. The change was so traumatic, that James developed a debilitating stutter, rendering him mute for eight years in school. His grandparents loved him, and realized that James needed a private school experience, and got him enrolled somehow into the all boys private school; Browning School for Boys, that strives for diversity, small classes and individual attention.
James Earl Jones credits the Browning School for Boys' English teacher, Donald Crouch, for starting the process that helped James to be verbal once again as a freshman in this private school. Donald Crouch discovered that James wrote poetry, and made him read one of his poems daily in class, and he didn't stutter at all. The teacher's theory that forced public speaking would help James to overcome his stutter worked beautifully, helping James to start the road to recover his self-confidence in vocal communication.
James revealed his thoughts about his stuggles with stuttering in an interview; "One of the hardest things in life is having words in your heart that you can't utter."
What also helped James was taking advantage of more opportunities for speaking. Jones started to take dramatic lessons; (to calm himself down), and the acting lessons; (to control his stutter).
After graduating from high school, James was accepted at University of Michigan as a pre-med major. He joined the Reserve Officer Training Corps., and enjoyed the friendships of his fellow cadets.
After discovering that he didn't want to be a doctor, James switched majors to the Music, Theater and Dance Department. During his college years, James got his feet wet by doing some acting at The Ramsdell Theatre in Manistee. After four years, He graduated with a degree in Theatre, Music and Dance.
In 1953, he was commissioned as a second Lieutenant, and went to Fort Benning to take the Infantry Officer's Basic Course. He then attended Ranger School, and earned his Army Ranger tab; perhaps taking the course more than once.
Instead of being sent to fight in the Korean War, like he was expecting, his unit was sent to Colorado, to set up a cold weather training facility at the old Camp Hale site. James left the service as a First Lieutenant.
Like many actors, James Earl Jones got his start on the stage. Jones was a dominant actor on Broadway throughout the 1960s and 1970s, and still works there today, juggling his roles between the stage, TV and films. James Earl Jones has had a long, successful stage career and has won two Tony Awards to show for it.
In 1969, James won a Best Actor (Dramatic) Tony for his performance portraying the character, Jack Jefferson, in the stage production of THE GREAT WHITE HOPE. In 1987, he won his second Tony for Best Actor in the stage production of FENCES.
Besides winning two Tonys, Jones was also honored by being presented with The John F. Kennedy Center Honor, in December 2002.
The honors just keep coming his way. In 2005, James was nominated for a Best Actor Tony for his performance in ON GOLDEN POND. In 2012, James was nominated for a Tony for his performance in the stage production of Gore Vidal's THE BEST MAN.
Jones's first feature-film was a small role in DR. STRANGELOVE (1964).
In 1970, James reprised his role portraying Jack Jefferson in the movie version of THE GREAT WHITE HOPE, which garnered an Academy nomination for Best Actor for James' performance.
In 1972, Jones played the first black president in THE MAN.
In 1974, James was nominated for a Best Actor Golden Globe for his performance in the 1974 romance film, CLAUDINE, with Diahann Carroll.
James Earl Jones gave a memorable performance, as Admiral James Greer, in the film trilogy: HUNT FOR RED OCTOBER;(1990), CLEAR AND PRESNET DANGER;(1992) and PATRIOT GAMES;(1992).
In 2012, The Academy Awards gave James an Honorary Oscar for his life achievement in films.
James Earl Jones has done a lot of TV projects, which include: A guest star role in an episode of TV series; EASTSIDE/WESTSIDE;(1963-Nominated for a Primetime Emmy), ROOTS: THE NEXT GENERATION;(1979 as Alex Haley), PARIS;(1979-1980-a police show), PROS AND CONS;(1991-1992-Nominated for a Best Actor Golden Globe), SIGNS AND WONDERS;(1995) and the 1997 TV movie, WHAT THE DEAF MAN HEARD.
The year of 1990 was a great year for James in his television work. For his performance as an ex-con in GABRIELS FIRE, James won a 1991 Best Actor Primetime Emmy and was also nominated for a Best Actor Golden Globe. A second TV project, a TV movie; HEAT WAVE, brought James Earl Jones more recognition when he won a Best Supporting Actor Primetime Emmy for his performance.
James Earl Jones' incredible voice, that he inherited from his father, will remain his calling card. Millions of kids know Jones' voice from THE LION KING (1994), as the voice of Mufasa. Adults and children everywhere recognize the asthmatic rasp of Darth Vader in STAR WARS, THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK, and RETURN OF THE JEDI, then there are millions that hear Jones voice every half hour: "This ... is CNN."
James Earl Jones was announced the forty-fifth greatest movie villain of all time by Maxim Magazine's "Fifty Greatest Movie Villains of all Time" list for his character of Darth Vader in STAR WARS (1977).
James "death" was announced during a live broadcast of an NBA playoff game in April of 1998. The deceased was actually James Earl Ray, who was the convicted assassin of Martin Luther King. What an embarrassing mistake to make on air!
Jame has been married twice. His first, brief marriage was to actress Julienne Marie; (from Janruary 2nd, 1968-1972). In 1982, James found the love of his life, and married actress Cecilia Hart in 1982. They have a son, Flynn Earl Jones.
James Earl Jones's notable movie credits include...
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016)
Driving Miss Daisy (2014)
The Angriest Man in Brooklyn (2014)
Gimme Shelter (2013)
WELCOME HOME, ROSCOE JENKINS (2008)
SCARY MOVIE 4 (2006)
THE BENCHWARMERS (2006)
STAR WARS: EPISODE III - REVENGE OF THE SITH (2005)
THE SANDLOT 2 (2005)
RECESS CHRISTMAS: MIRACLE ON THIRD STREET (2001)
FINDER'S FEE (2001)
UNDERCOVER ANGEL (1999)
JUDGE DREDD (1995)
CLEAR AND PRESENT DANGER (1994)
THE SANDLOT (1993)
FIELD OF DREAMS (1989)
STAR WARS - RETURN OF THE JEDI (1983)
STAR WARS - THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK (1980)
STAR WARS (1977)
EXORCIST II (1977)
James Earl Jones, the voice of
Darth Vader, in THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK.