Image of James Earl Jones

James Earl Jones

1931-01-17 Arkabutla, Mississippi, USA

Image of James Earl Jones


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.


Coming 2 America Roi Jaffe Joffer 2020-12-16
Raúl Juliá: The World’s a Stage Himself 2019-09-13
The Lion King Mufasa (voice) 2019-07-12
Unraveling the Mystery: A Big Bang Farewell James Earl Jones (archive footage) 2019-05-16
Warning Shot Pendleton 2018-09-14
The Lion Guard: Life In The Pride Lands Mufasa 2017-01-10
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story Darth Vader (voice) 2016-12-14
Star Wars Rebels: The Siege of Lothal Darth Vader (voice) 2015-04-18
August Wilson: The Ground on Which I Stand 2015-02-20
The Lion Guard: Return of the Roar Mufasa (voice) 2015-11-22
The Angriest Man in Brooklyn Ruben 2014-05-23
Driving Miss Daisy Hoke Colburn 2014-06-04
Milius Himself 2013-03-09
Gimme Shelter Frank McCarthy 2013-10-17
Muse of Fire Himself 2013-09-26
Blackfish Himself (archive footage) 2013-06-07
Quantum Quest: A Cassini Space Odyssey Admiral (voice) 2012-12-02
Jack and the Beanstalk The Giant (voice) 2009-11-06
Welcome Home Roscoe Jenkins Papa Jenkins 2008-02-08
Earth Narrator 2007-04-22
John, Paul, George and Ben Narrator 2007-01-05
The Best of The Tony Awards: The Plays Jack Jefferson (segment "The Great White Hope") / Troy Maxson (segment "Fences") 2006-05-02
The Benchwarmers Darth Vader (voice) 2006-04-07
Click Narrator of Michael's Past (uncredited) 2006-06-22
By Any Means Necessary: The Making of Malcolm X Narrator 2005-02-08
The Sandlot 2 Mr. Mertle 2005-05-03
The Reading Room 2005-11-04
Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith Darth Vader (voice - uncredited) 2005-05-17
Robots Voice Box at Hardware Store (voice) 2005-03-10
Nine Dog Christmas Narrator 2004-10-05
The Story of Star Wars Darth Vader (archive footage) 2004-08-18
Black Indians: An American Story Narrator 2004-01-01
No Fighting in the War Room Or: Dr Strangelove and the Nuclear Threat Himself 2004-10-28
Empire of Dreams: The Story of the Star Wars Trilogy Himself 2004-09-12
Beneath the Surface: The Making of 'The Hunt for Red October' Himself 2003-05-06
The Great Year Narrator 2003-08-01
Finder's Fee Avery Phillips 2001-01-01
Visitors from the Unknown Narrator 2001-03-25
Disney's American Legends Narrator 2001-02-12
Muhammad Ali - Through The Eyes Of The World 2001-11-19
Feast of All Saints Older Marcel 2001-11-11
Inside: 'Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb' Himself - 'Lieutenant Lothar Zogg' 2000-05-05
Conan Unchained: The Making of 'Conan' Himself 2000-01-01
The Art of Stanley Kubrick: From Short Films to Strangelove Himself 2000-04-10
Summer's End Dr. William 'Bill' Blakely 2000-04-18
Fantasia 2000 Himself - Host 1999-12-17
Our Friend, Martin Daddy King (voice) 1999-01-12
On the Q.T. Leo 1999-04-01
The Annihilation of Fish Fish 1999-01-01
Undercover Angel The Judge 1999-05-16
Santa and Pete James Earl Jones 1999-12-05
The Lion King II: Simba's Pride Mufasa (voice) 1998-10-24
Merlin the Rock of Ages 1998-04-26
Alone Grey 1997-12-21
Casper: A Spirited Beginning Kibosh (voice) 1997-09-09
Gang Related Arthur Baylor 1997-10-08
What the Deaf Man Heard Archibald Thacker 1997-11-23
The Second Civil War Jim Kalla 1997-03-15
Afro Promo Himself (archive footage) 1997-01-31
Timepiece Lawrence 1996-12-22
Looking for Richard Himself/Interview 1996-10-11
A Family Thing Ray Murdock 1996-03-29
Rebound: The Legend of Earl 'The Goat' Manigault Dr. McDuffie 1996-01-01
Jefferson in Paris Madison Hemings 1995-03-31
Cry, the Beloved Country Rev. Stephen Kumalo 1995-12-15
Judge Dredd Narrator (uncredited) 1995-06-30
The Making of 'Jurassic Park' Host 1995-05-09
Circle of Life: An Environmental Fable Mufasa (voice) 1995-01-21
The First 100 Years: A Celebration of American Movies 1995-06-05
Clean Slate John Dolby 1994-05-06
Clear and Present Danger Admiral James Greer 1994-08-03
Naked Gun 33⅓: The Final Insult James Earl Jones 1994-03-18
The Lion King King Mufasa (voice) 1994-05-07
Naked Gun 33⅓: The Final Insult Himself 1994-03-18
Confessions: Two Face of Evil Charles Lloyd 1994-01-17
Twilight Zone: Rod Serling's Lost Classics Host 1994-05-19
Africa: The Serengeti Narrator 1994-03-31
The Vernon Johns Story Vernon Johns 1994-01-15
The Meteor Man Earnest Moses 1993-08-06
Michael Jackson - Dangerous - The Short Films Himself (Superbowl Heal The World) Voice 1993-09-28
Sommersby Judge Barry Conrad Issacs 1993-02-05
Excessive Force Jake 1993-05-14
The Sandlot Mr. Mertle 1993-04-07
Ramayana: The Legend of Prince Rama Narrator (English) 1992-12-05
Lincoln 1992-12-26
Sneakers NSA Agent Bernard Abbott 1992-09-09
Patriot Games Adm. James Greer 1992-06-04
Scorchers Bear 1991-07-07
True Identity Himself 1991-07-23
Convicts Ben Johnson 1991-01-01
The Hunt for Red October Admiral James Greer 1990-03-02
By Dawn's Early Light Looking Glass General - 'Alice' 1990-05-19
The Ambulance Lt. Spencer 1990-03-22
Grim Prairie Tales Morrison 1990-09-14
Teach 109 Dr. Winston 1990-01-01
Ivory Hunters Inspector Nkuru 1990-08-20
Heat Wave Junius Johnson 1990-08-13
Last Flight Out Al Topping 1990-05-22
Best of the Best Frank Couzo 1989-11-10
Field of Dreams Terrence Mann 1989-04-21
Stories to Remember: Noah's Ark Narrator 1989-01-01
Three Fugitives Dugan 1989-01-27
Coming to America King Jaffe Joffer 1988-06-29
Terrorgram Retribution (voice) 1988-08-08
Pinocchio and the Emperor of the Night Emperor of the Night (voice) 1987-08-06
Gardens of Stone Sgt. Maj.'Goody' Nelson 1987-05-05
Matewan 'Few Clothes' Johnson 1987-08-28
Soul Man Professor Banks 1986-10-24
Allan Quatermain and the Lost City of Gold Umslopogaas 1986-12-17
Aladdin and His Wonderful Lamp Genie / Narrator 1986-07-14
The Lone Star Kid Holmes 1986-02-10
My Little Girl Ike Bailey 1986-08-31
Visual Pathfinders: Robert Abel & Associates 1985-01-01
The Vegas Strip War Jack Madrid 1984-11-25
City Limits Albert 1984-01-01
Return of the Jedi Voice of Darth Vader (voice) 1983-05-23
Conan the Barbarian Thulsa Doom 1982-04-02
Blood Tide Frye 1982-09-01
The Flight of Dragons Ommadon 1982-08-17
The Creation Narrator 1981-01-01
God's Trombones Himself - Narrator (segment "The Creation") 1981-01-01
The Bushido Blade The Prisoner 1981-11-20
There Was Always Sun Shining Someplace: Life in the Negro Baseball Leagues himself, voice 1981-04-03
The Empire Strikes Back Darth Vader (voice - uncredited) 1980-05-20
The Golden Moment: An Olympic Love Story Dane Oliver 1980-05-25
Paul Robeson Paul Robeson 1979-01-08
The Star Wars Holiday Special Darth Vader (voice) 1978-12-01
A Piece of the Action Joshua Burke 1977-10-07
The Greatest Malcolm X 1977-05-17
The Making of 'Star Wars' Darth Vader (voice) (uncredited) 1977-09-16
Star Wars Darth Vader (voice) 1977-05-25
The Last Remake of Beau Geste Sheikh 1977-06-15
Exorcist II: The Heretic Older Kokumo 1977-06-17
The Greatest Thing That Almost Happened Morris Bird, Jr. 1977-10-26
The Bingo Long Traveling All-Stars & Motor Kings Leon Carter 1976-07-16
Swashbuckler Nick Debrett 1976-01-01
The River Niger Johnny Williams 1976-04-14
The UFO Incident Barney Hill 1975-10-20
Deadly Hero Rabbit Shazam 1975-12-14
The Cay Timothy 1974-10-24
Claudine Rupert D. "Roop" Marshall 1974-04-22
King Lear King Lear 1974-02-20
The Man Douglass Dilman 1972-07-19
Malcolm X Biographical Narration (voice) 1972-05-24
King: A Filmed Record... Montgomery to Memphis 1970-03-24
The Great White Hope Jack Jefferson 1970-10-11
End of the Road Doctor D 1970-02-10
The Comedians Dr. Magiot 1967-10-31
Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb Lt. Lothar Zogg 1964-01-29
Hollywood's Greatest Villains Himself