James Earl Jones
1 FOLLOWER • 84 CREDITS • JAN 17, 1931 • 93
Biography
more
James Earl Jones (born January 17, 1931) is a multi-award-winning American actor of theater and film, well known for his distinctive bass voice and for his portrayal of characters of substance, gravitas and leadership. He is known for providing the voice of Darth Vader in the Star Wars franchise and the tagline for CNN. James Earl Jones was born in Arkabutla, Mississippi, the son of Ruth (née Connolly) and Robert Earl Jones. At the age of five, he moved to Jackson, Michigan, to be raised by his maternal grandparents, but the adoption was traumatic and he developed a stutter so severe he refused to speak aloud. When he moved to Brethren, Michigan in later years a teacher at the Brethren schools started to help him with his stutter. He remained functionally mute for eight years until he reached high school. He credits his high school teacher, Donald Crouch, who discovered he had a gift for writing poetry, with helping him out of his silence. Jones attended the University of Michigan where he was a pre-med major. While there, he joined the Reserve Officer Training Corps, and excelled. 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 left without his degree. In 1953 he found a part-time stage crew job at the Ramsdell Theatre in Manistee, Michigan, which marked the beginning of his acting career. During the 1955–1957 seasons he was an actor and stage manager. He performed his first portrayal of Shakespeare’s Othello in this theater in 1955. After his discharge from the Military, Jones moved to New York, where he attended the American Theatre Wing to further his training and worked as a janitor to earn a living. 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 film version of the Broadway play The Great White Hope, 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. In 1969, Jones participated in making test films for a proposed children's television series; these shorts, combined with animated segments were the beginnings of the Sesame Street format. The next year, in the early 1970s, James appeared with Diahann Carroll in the film called Claudine. While he has appeared in many roles, he is 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 postproduction due to Prowse's strong West Country accent being unsuitable for the role. At his own request, he was originally uncredited for the release of the first two films (he would later be credited for the two in the 1997 re-release).  His other voice roles include Mufasa in the 1994 film Disney animated blockbuster The Lion King, and its direct-to-video sequel, The Lion King II: Simba's Pride. He also has done the CNN tagline, "This is CNN", as well as "This is CNN International", and the Bell Atlantic tagline, "Bell Atlantic: The heart of communication". When Bell Atlantic became Verizon, Jones used the tagline greeting of "Welcome to Verizon" or "Verizon 411" right before a phone call would go through. The opening for NBC's coverage of the 2000 and 2004 Summer Olympics; "the Big PI in the Sky" (God) in the computer game Under a Killing Moon; a Claymation film about The Creation; and several guest spots on The Simpsons. In addition to his film and voice over work, Jones is an accomplished stage actor as well; he has won Tony awards in 1969 for The Great White Hope and in 1987 for Fences. Othello, King Lear, Oberon in A Midsummer Night's Dream, Abhorson in Measure for Measure, and Claudius in Hamlet are Shakespearean roles he has played. He received Kennedy Center Honors in 2002. 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, 1933, Toledo, Ohio); they had no children. Jones is a registered Republican.
Overview
James Earl Jones (born January 17, 1931) is a multi-award-winning American actor of theater and film, well known for his distinctive bass voice and for his portrayal of characters of substance, gravitas and leadership. He is known for providing the voice of Darth Vader in the Star Wars franchise and the tagline for CNN. James Earl Jones was born in Arkabutla, Mississippi, the son of Ruth (née Connolly) and Robert Earl Jones. At the age of five, he moved to Jackson, Michigan, to be raised by his maternal grandparents, but the adoption was traumatic and he developed a stutter so severe he refused to speak aloud. When he moved to Brethren, Michigan in later years a teacher at the Brethren schools started to help him with his stutter. He remained functionally mute for eight years until he reached high school. He credits his high school teacher, Donald Crouch, who discovered he had a gift for writing poetry, with helping him out of his silence. Jones attended the University of Michigan where he was a pre-med major. While there, he joined the Reserve Officer Training Corps, and excelled. 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 left without his degree. In 1953 he found a part-time stage crew job at the Ramsdell Theatre in Manistee, Michigan, which marked the beginning of his acting career. During the 1955–1957 seasons he was an actor and stage manager. He performed his first portrayal of Shakespeare’s Othello in this theater in 1955. After his discharge from the Military, Jones moved to New York, where he attended the American Theatre Wing to further his training and worked as a janitor to earn a living. 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 film version of the Broadway play The Great White Hope, 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. In 1969, Jones participated in making test films for a proposed children's television series; these shorts, combined with animated segments were the beginnings of the Sesame Street format. The next year, in the early 1970s, James appeared with Diahann Carroll in the film called Claudine. While he has appeared in many roles, he is 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 postproduction due to Prowse's strong West Country accent being unsuitable for the role. At his own request, he was originally uncredited for the release of the first two films (he would later be credited for the two in the 1997 re-release).  His other voice roles include Mufasa in the 1994 film Disney animated blockbuster The Lion King, and its direct-to-video sequel, The Lion King II: Simba's Pride. He also has done the CNN tagline, "This is CNN", as well as "This is CNN International", and the Bell Atlantic tagline, "Bell Atlantic: The heart of communication". When Bell Atlantic became Verizon, Jones used the tagline greeting of "Welcome to Verizon" or "Verizon 411" right before a phone call would go through. The opening for NBC's coverage of the 2000 and 2004 Summer Olympics; "the Big PI in the Sky" (God) in the computer game Under a Killing Moon; a Claymation film about The Creation; and several guest spots on The Simpsons. In addition to his film and voice over work, Jones is an accomplished stage actor as well; he has won Tony awards in 1969 for The Great White Hope and in 1987 for Fences. Othello, King Lear, Oberon in A Midsummer Night's Dream, Abhorson in Measure for Measure, and Claudius in Hamlet are Shakespearean roles he has played. He received Kennedy Center Honors in 2002. 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, 1933, Toledo, Ohio); they had no children. Jones is a registered Republican.
Known For
The Ed Sullivan Show
The Simpsons
Tony Awards
Hallmark Hall of Fame
Faerie Tale Theatre
Frasier
The Defenders
Dr. Kildare
L.A. Law
Law & Order
Stargate SG-1
House
Two and a Half Men
The Movies That Made Us
Homicide: Life on the Street
According to Jim
Happily Ever After: Fairy Tales for Every Child
Star Wars Rebels
Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman
Obi-Wan Kenobi
Everwood
The Kennedy Center Honors
The Big Bang Theory
Sesame Street
The Magic of David Copperfield
Lamp Unto My Feet
Will & Grace
CBS Schoolbreak Special
Shelley Duvall's Bedtime Stories
Tarzan
Scary Movie 4
Naked Gun 33⅓: The Final Insult
Waking Sleeping Beauty
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker
Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith
Click
The Empire Strikes Back
Judge Dredd
Blackfish
Robots
The Benchwarmers
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
Guyana Tragedy: The Story of Jim Jones
The First 100 Years: A Celebration of American Movies
Street Gang: How We Got to Sesame Street
Star Tours: The Adventures Continue
Clear and Present Danger
Sneakers
Merlin
The Lion Guard: Return of the Roar
Star Wars Rebels: Spark of Rebellion
Jesus of Nazareth
Empire of Dreams: The Story of the Star Wars Trilogy
Star Wars
Return of the Jedi
Coming 2 America
The Making of Star Wars
Patriot Games
The Lion King II: Simba's Pride
The Sandlot
The Lion King
Obi Wan Kenobi - The Patterson Cut
Exorcist II: The Heretic
The Star Wars Holiday Special
Recess Christmas: Miracle On Third Street
Coming to America
Fantasia 2000
The Hunt for Red October
Gang Related
The Lion King
Field of Dreams
The Story of Star Wars
The Second Civil War
Circle of Life: An Environmental Fable
Allan Quatermain and the Lost City of Gold
Star Wars Rebels: The Siege of Lothal
Gardens of Stone
The Atlanta Child Murders
Conan the Barbarian
Deal or No Deal
Paris
Alone
Matewan
The Man
Movies+ Discover & Track Movies
Never miss a movie again with Movies+, the simple tracker that keeps you updated on where to watch, stream, rent, or buy, while also alerting you to any production changes and new release dates of your favorite films!
Get