James Earl Jones


Biography

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.


2019The Lion King as Mufasa (voice)
2016Rogue One: A Star Wars Story as Darth Vader (voice)
2015The Lion Guard: Return of the Roar as Mufasa (voice)
2015Star Wars Rebels: The Siege of Lothal as Darth Vader (voice)
2015August Wilson: The Ground on Which I Stand as
2014Star Wars Rebels as Darth Vader (voice)
2014Star Wars Rebels as Darth Vader
2014Driving Miss Daisy as Hoke Colburn
2014The Angriest Man in Brooklyn as Ruben
2013Gimme Shelter as Frank McCarthy
2013Muse of Fire as Himself
2013Blackfish as Himself (archive footage)
2013Milius as Himself
2012Quantum Quest: A Cassini Space Odyssey as Admiral (voice)
2009Jack and the Beanstalk as The Giant (voice)
2008Welcome Home Roscoe Jenkins as Papa Jenkins
2007The Big Bang Theory as Himself
2007Earth as Narrator
2006Vader Sessions as Darth Vader
2006The One Show as
2006Click as Narrator of Michael's Past (uncredited)
2005Deal or No Deal as
2005The Reading Room as
2005The Story of Star Wars as Darth Vader
2005Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith as Darth Vader (voice)
2005The Sandlot 2 as Mr. Mertle
2005Robots as Voice Box at Hardware Store (voice)
2005By Any Means Necessary: The Making of Malcolm X as Narrator
2004House as Dibala
2004Nine Dog Christmas as Narrator
2004Empire of Dreams: The Story of the Star Wars Trilogy as Himself
2004Black Indians: An American Story as Narrator
2003Two and a Half Men as
2003The Great Year as Narrator
2003Beneath the Surface: The Making of 'The Hunt for Red October' as Himself
2002Everwood as
2001Muhammad Ali - Through The Eyes Of The World as
2001Feast of All Saints as Older Marcel
2001According to Jim as
2001Disney's American Legends as Narrator
2001Finder's Fee as Avery Phillips
2000Summer's End as Dr. William 'Bill' Blakely
2000Conan Unchained: The Making of 'Conan' as Himself
1999Fantasia 2000 as Himself - Host
1999Santa and Pete as James Earl Jones
1999Undercover Angel as The Judge
1999Our Friend, Martin as Daddy King (voice)
1999The Annihilation of Fish as Fish
1998The Lion King 2: Simba's Pride as Mufasa (voice)
1998Will & Grace as
1998Merlin as Rock of Ages
1998Merlin as Mountain King
1997Alone as Grey
1997What the Deaf Man Heard as Archibald Thacker
1997Gang Related as Arthur Baylor
1997Stargate SG-1 as Unas (Voice)
1997The Second Civil War as Jim Kalla
1997Afro Promo as Himself (archive footage)
1996Timepiece as Lawrence
1996Looking for Richard as Himself/Interview
1996A Family Thing as Ray Murdock
1996Rebound: The Legend of Earl 'The Goat' Manigault as Dr. McDuffie
1995Cry, the Beloved Country as Rev. Stephen Kumalo
1995The First 100 Years: A Celebration of American Movies as
1995The Making of 'Jurassic Park' as Host
1995Jefferson in Paris as Madison Hemings
1995Under One Roof as Neb Langston
1995Circle of Life: An Environmental Fable as Mufasa (voice)
1994Clear and Present Danger as Admiral James Greer
1994The Lion King as King Mufasa (voice)
1994Twilight Zone: Rod Serling's Lost Classics as Host
1994Clean Slate as John Dolby
1994Africa: The Serengeti as Narrator
1994The Naked Gun 33⅓: The Final Insult as James Earl Jones
1994The Naked Gun 33⅓: The Final Insult as Himself
1994Confessions: Two Face of Evil as Charles Lloyd
1994The Vernon Johns Story as
1993Michael Jackson - Dangerous - The Short Films as Himself (Superbowl Heal The World) Voice
1993Frasier as Norman Royster
1993Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman as
1993The Meteor Man as Earnest Moses
1993Excessive Force as Jake
1993The Sandlot as Mr. Mertle
1993Sommersby as Judge Barry Conrad Issacs
1993Homicide: Life on the Street as
1992Lincoln as
1992Ramayana: The Legend of Prince Rama as Narrator (English)
1992Sneakers as NSA Agent Bernard Abbott
1992Patriot Games as Adm. James Greer
1991Pros and Cons as
1991True Identity as Himself
1991Scorchers as Bear
1991Convicts as Ben Johnson
1990Grim Prairie Tales as Morrison
1990Law & Order as Attorney Horace McCoy
1990Gabriel's Fire as Gabriel Bird
1990Ivory Hunters as Inspector Nkuru
1990Heat Wave as Junius Johnson
1990Last Flight Out as Al Topping
1990By Dawn's Early Light as Looking Glass General - 'Alice'
1990The Hunt for Red October as Admiral James Greer
1990Teach 109 as Dr. Winston
1989The Simpsons as
1989The Ambulance as Lt. Spencer
1989Best of the Best as Frank Couzo
1989Field of Dreams as Terrence Mann
1989Long Ago and Far Away as Host
1989Three Fugitives as Dugan
1989Stories to Remember: Noah's Ark as Narrator
1988Terrorgram as Retribution (voice)
1988Coming to America as King Jaffe Joffer
1987Matewan as 'Few Clothes' Johnson
1987Pinocchio and the Emperor of the Night as Emperor of the Night (voice)
1987Gardens of Stone as Sgt. Maj.'Goody' Nelson
1986Allan Quatermain and the Lost City of Gold as Umslopogaas
1986Soul Man as Professor Banks
1986L.A. Law as
1986My Little Girl as Ike Bailey
1986Aladdin and His Wonderful Lamp as Genie / Narrator
1985Me and Mom as
1985The Atlanta Child Murders as Major Walker
1984The Vegas Strip War as Jack Madrid
1984City Limits as Albert
1983Return of the Jedi as Voice of Darth Vader (voice)
1982Faerie Tale Theatre as Genie / Narrator
1982Blood Tide as Frye
1982The Flight of Dragons as Omadon
1982Conan the Barbarian as Thulsa Doom
1981The Bushido Blade as The Prisoner
1981The Creation as Narrator
1980The Golden Moment: An Olympic Love Story as Dane Oliver
1980The Empire Strikes Back as Darth Vader (Voice)
1980CBS Schoolbreak Special as Detective Robb
1980Guyana Tragedy: The Story of Jim Jones as Father Divine
1979Paris as
1979Roots: The Next Generations as Alex Haley
1978The Kennedy Center Honors as
1978The Star Wars Holiday Special as Darth Vader (voice)
1977The Greatest Thing That Almost Happened as Morris Bird, Jr.
1977A Piece of the Action as Joshua Burke
1977The Making of 'Star Wars' as Darth Vader (voice) (uncredited)
1977Exorcist II: The Heretic as Older Kokumo
1977The Last Remake of Beau Geste as Sheikh
1977Star Wars as Voice of Darth Vader (voice)
1977The Greatest as Malcolm X
1977Jesus of Nazareth as Balthazar
1976The Bingo Long Traveling All-Stars & Motor Kings as Leon Carter
1976The River Niger as Johnny Williams
1976Swashbuckler as Nick Debrett
1975Deadly Hero as Rabbit Shazam
1975The UFO Incident as Barney Hill
1975Vegetable Soup as
1974The Cay as Timothy
1974Claudine as Roop
1974King Lear as King Lear
1973The American Film Institute Salute to ... as
1972The Man as Douglass Dilman
1972Malcolm X as Biographical Narration (voice)
1970The Great White Hope as Jack Jefferson
1970King: A Filmed Record... Montgomery to Memphis as
1970End of the Road as Doctor D
1969Sesame Street as
1967The Comedians as Dr. Magiot
1966Tarzan as
1964Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb as Lt. Lothar Zogg
1963East Side/West Side as
1961Dr. Kildare as
1961The Defenders as
1951Hallmark Hall of Fame as
1948The Ed Sullivan Show as
-Film Night as
-Jesus of Nazareth as Balthazar
-Warning Shot as Pendleton