James Earl Jones received a Tony Award and Golden Globe Award for his performance in the 1967 play The Great White Hope, marking the beginning of one of the most-decorated acting careers of his generation. Jones also received a Best Actor Oscar nomination for his role in the 1970 film adaptation of The Great White Hope.
With an illustrious 60-plus years of stage and screen acting behind him, Jones has been described as one of the best actors in the history of Hollywood. A Hollywood veteran, James Earl Jones is said to possess “one of the best-known voices in showbiz”. In November 2015, he was honored with the Voice Arts Icon Award. For one who talked with a stutter as a child, the Hollywood icon has indeed come a long way.
Bio, Age – How Old Is He?
James Earl Jones was born on January 17, 1931, in Arkabutla, Mississippi. His mother Ruth (Williams) Jones worked as a school teacher while his father Robert Earl Jones doubled as a butler and chauffeur; the man later became a professional actor. Jones’ father left the family shortly after his son was born and as a result, the young Jones was raised by his mother’s parents in Jackson, Michigan.
For his high school education, James Earl Jones studied at Dickson Rural Agricultural School (now Brethren High School) in Brethren, Michigan. He had his college education at the University of Michigan. Jones equally studied at the American Theatre Wing based in New York. Upon graduation, he became a stage manager and later, an actor at the Ramsdell Theatre in Manistee, Michigan.
Several years of impeccable acting down the line, James Earl Jones hit a major career breakthrough in the 1967 play The Great White Hope. His lead role in the play landed him a Tony Award for best actor and also launched his career on Broadway. Jones landed his first starring role in the 1970 film adaptation of The Great White Hope which earned him an Academy Award nomination and a Golden Globe Award in 1970.
In 1977, the actor voiced the character Darth Vader in Star Wars: A New Hope, the first film in the original Star Wars trilogy. The award-winning actor equally reprised his role in the film’s sequels The Empire Strikes Back (1980) and Return of the Jedi (1983). Jones also voiced the same character in the animated series Star Wars Rebels and in the film Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016). His other notable voice roles include that of Simba’s father Mufasa in the 1994 Disney hit The Lion King. The talented actor also reprised the Mufasa voice role in The Lion King II: Simba’s Pride (1998) and The Lion Guard: Return of the Roar (2015).
His Net Worth
Back in 1977, James Earl Jones was offered part ownership in the Star Wars franchise as payment for his voice role in its first movie Star Wars: A New Hope. Had he accepted the offer, Jones would have been a shareholder in the multi-billion dollar Star Wars franchise of today.
However, being a young struggling actor at that time, Jones opted to be paid in cash. Unfortunate as that early-career decision was, the man has equally done very well for himself. From Broadway to the screen to voice-acting and major commercial voice-overs, this Hollywood vet is indeed a well-rounded performer. The talented actor has his net worth pegged at a conservative estimate of $45 million.
James Earl Jones’ Wife
James is unmarried at the moment, however, the Hollywood vet has been married twice in the past. His first wife Julienne Marie was an actress and singer. The duo met in 1964 and got married in 1968. They had no children together and the marriage ended in divorce in 1972.
Jones’ second wife Cecilia Hart was also an actress. The duo tied the knot on March 15, 1982, and remained married for well over 2 decades. They had one child together, a son named Flynn Earl Jones. Their union ended in October 2016 when Hart passed on from ovarian cancer.
Other Facts About the Veteran Actor
1. As a child, James Earl Jones developed a terrible stutter which rendered him practically mute for several years. Fortunately, Jones’ high school English teacher helped him harness his talent in poetry which helped him overcome his reluctance to speak. Over the years, the Hollywood icon has come to be known for his resonant voice and unrivaled eloquence. Interestingly, James Earl Jones is the voice behind the famous CNN tagline “This is CNN”.
2. Having won 2 Tony Awards for Best Actor in a Play in 1969 and 1987 respectively, James was honored with the 2017 Special Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement in Theatre.
3. In 1977, he received a Grammy Award for Best Spoken Word Album alongside Henry Fonda, Helen Hayes, and Orson Welles for their work on Great American Documents. The Hollywood icon is one of only 14 people in the world to have received all 4 major entertainment awards; an Emmy, a Grammy, an Oscar, and a Tony Award (EGOT).
4. In addition to his sterling acting career, James is also a United States Army veteran. Back in 1953, he enlisted for the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC). He became a first lieutenant after completing the Officers Basic Course. His unit was later deployed to construct a cold-weather training command in Colorado after which Jones was commissioned as a first lieutenant.
Is James Earl Jones Dead?
Being susceptible to false news, ridiculous rumors, and death hoaxes is one of the consequences of being in the limelight and Mr. Jones is not an exception. However, the Hollywood icon is still very much alive and well. Jones has survived an over 2-decade battle with type 2 diabetes. Other than this long-term health challenge, the octogenarian is still alive and kicking.