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James Earl Jones

Actor, Voice Actor, Soldier
© Stuart Crawford
Wikimedia / CC BY 2.0 ]
James Earl Jones (born January 17, 1931) is an American actor who in a career of more than 50 years has become 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 and Golden Globe Award for his role in The Great White Hope. Jones has won 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. He is also known for his voice acting, most notably as Darth Vader in the Star Wars franchise as well as in many other film, stage, and television roles. As a child Jones overcame a stutter that lasted for several years. A pre-med major in college, he went on to serve as a U.S. Army Ranger during the Korean War, before dedicating his career to acting. On November 12, 2011, he received an Honorary Academy Award. --- James Earl Jones was born in Arkabutla, Mississippi, son of Robert Earl Jones (1910–2006), an actor, boxer, butler, and chauffeur who left the family shortly after James Earl's birth, and his wife Ruth (Connolly) Jones, a teacher and maid. Jones and his father reconciled many years later. Jones was raised by his maternal grandparents, farmers John Henry and Maggie Connolly. He is multiracial, with African, Irish, and Native American ancestry. Jones describes his grandmother, Maggie, as "the most racist person I have ever known", thus forcing him to develop his own independent thinking. His grandmother was of Cherokee, Choctaw, and black ancestry. He moved to his grandparents' farm in Jackson, Michigan, when he was five, but the transition was traumatic and he developed a stutter so severe he refused to speak. When he moved to Brethren, Michigan, in later years, a teacher at the Brethren schools helped him overcome his stutter. He remained functionally mute for eight years, until he entered high school. He credits his English teacher, Donald Crouch, who discovered he had a gift for writing poetry, with helping him end his silence. Crouch believed forced public speaking would help Jones gain confidence and insisted he recite a poem in class every day. "I was a stutterer. I couldn't talk. So my first year of school was my first mute year, and then those mute years continued until I got to high school." After being educated at the Browning School for boys in his high school years and graduating from Brethren High School in Brethren, Michigan, Jones attended the University of Michigan where he was a pre-med major. He joined the Reserve Officer Training Corps, and excelled. He felt comfortable within the structure of the military environment, and enjoyed the camaraderie of his fellow cadets in the Pershing Rifles Drill Team and Scabbard and Blade Honor Society. During the course of his studies, Jones discovered he was not cut out to be a doctor. Instead he focused himself on drama, with the thought of doing something he enjoyed, before, he assumed, he would have to go off to fight in the Korean War. After four years of college, Jones graduated from the university in 1955. --- With the war intensifying in Korea, Jones expected to be sent to the war as soon as he received his commission as a second lieutenant. As he waited for his orders, he worked as a part-time stage crew hand at the Ramsdell Theatre in Manistee, Michigan, where he had earlier performed. Jones was commissioned in mid 1953 and reported to Fort Benning to attend Infantry Officers Basic Course. He then attended Ranger School and received his Ranger Tab (although he stated during an interview on the BBC's The One Show, screened on November 11, 2009, that he "washed out" of Ranger training). He was initially to report to Fort Leonard Wood, but his unit was instead sent to establish a cold weather training command at the Camp Halenear Leadville, Colorado. His battalion became a training unit in the rugged terrain of the Rocky Mountains. Jones was promoted to first lieutenant prior to his discharge. He then moved to New York, where he studied at the American Theatre Wing, working as a janitor to support himself. --- Jones began his acting career at the Ramsdell Theatre in Manistee, Michigan. In 1953 he was a stage carpenter. During the 1955–57 seasons he was an actor and stage manager. He performed his first portrayal of Shakespeare’s Othello in this theater in 1955. His early career also included an appearance in the ABC radio anthology series Theatre-Five. Jones is an accomplished stage actor; he has won Tony awards in 1969 for The Great White Hope and in 1987 for Fences. 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. He received Kennedy Center Honors in 2002. His first film role was as a young and trim Lt. Lothar Zogg, the B-52 bombardier in Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb in 1964. His first big role came with his portrayal of boxer Jack Jefferson in the The Great White Hope a reprise of the role he had performed on Broadway play, which was based on the life of boxer Jack Johnson. For his role, Jones was nominated Best Actor by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, making him the second African-American male performer (following Sidney Poitier) to receive a nomination. Jones is also well known as the voice of Darth Vader in the original Star Wars trilogy. Darth Vader was portrayed in costume by David Prowse in the original trilogy, with Jones dubbing Vader's dialogue in post production due to Prowse's strong West Country accent being unsuitable for the role. At his own request, Jones was originally uncredited for the release of the first two films (he would later be credited for the two in the 1997 re-release). --- Jones has been married to actress Cecilia Hart since 1982. They have one child, Flynn Earl Jones. He was previously married to American actress/singer Julienne Marie (born March 21, 1937, Toledo, Ohio); they had no children.

Wikipedia ]

Born
January 17, 1931 (age 93)
Profession
Actor, Voice Actor, Soldier
Spouse
Julienne Marie
Parents
Robert Earl Jones, Ruth Connolly
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