James Earl Jones

James Earl Jones, considered one of the great actors of the 20th century, is noted for his particularly deep voice. His distinctive voice has become well known through his character of Darth Vador in the films Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back, and Return of the Jedi, as Mufasa in The Lion King, and through many television commercials.

James attended the University of Michigan, in Ann Arbor and initially studied medicine. However, he changed his major after his freshman year and graduated with a degree in drama. He moved to New York City in 1955 to pursue a stage career, and was united with his father, actor Robert Earl Jones, who had left the family before his birth. After years of playing bit parts, Jones won recognition for his performance in Jean Genet's The Blacks and in 1962 won an Obie Award (given for off-Broadway theater work) as best actor. James Earl Jones gained more prominence with his classical acting ability after work in the New York Shakespeare Festival production of Othello in 1964. It was that same year that he made his film debut in Stanley Kubrick's Dr. Strangelove.

Jones won national recognition and a Tony Award in 1969 for his portrayal of Jack Johnson, the first black world heavyweight-boxing champion, in The Great White Hope, and he won a second Tony for best actor in 1987 for his performance in Fences.

James Earl Jones has gained national recognition lending his voice to numerous documentaries, making appearances in a variety of television shows, and starring in several feature films throughout his career. Among his most memorable roles are those of Terence Mann in Field Of Dreams, and his portrayal of Adm. James Greer in The Hunt For Red October, Patriot Games, and Clear And Present Danger.

Jones holds honorary doctorates from Yale, Princeton, Columbia and New York Universities and Emerson College. He was a presidential appointee to the National Council on the Arts from 1970 to 1976. In 1992, he was awarded the National Medal of Arts by President Bush. He is also the recipient of the prestigious NAACP Hall of Fame Image Award for his contributions to the arts. James Earl Jones is a widely recognized and beloved actor whose broad appeal has made him one of the most famous voices of our time.