Actor James Earl Jones has made several appearances in Central Arkansas over the years. He has appeared at Robinson Center with the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra. On February 12, 1999, he narrated Aaron Copland’s “Lincoln Portrait” and Alexander Miller’s “Let Freedom Ring” with the Symphony in a concert at Robinson Center. (It was the 190th birthday for Lincoln.)
Born in Mississippi, he spent most of his childhood in Michigan. After service in the Army during the Korean War, he moved to New York to study theatre. In the late 1950s he started alternating between Broadway (where he often played a servant) and Off Broadway (where he played leading roles). His first film appearance was in Dr. Strangelove…. From the 1960s onward he has alternated between stage, film and TV. In the 1980s, he added voice work to his repertoire.
In 1969 and in 1987, he won Tony Awards for Actor in a Play (The Great White Hope and Fences, respectively). His other Tony nominations have been for revivals of On Golden Pond and The Best Man. He was nominated for an Oscar in 1970 for reprising The Great White Hope on film. He received two Emmy Awards in 1991 – the only actor to ever win two in the same year.
In 2008, he won the Screen Actors Guild Lifetime Achievement Award, and in 2011 he was given an Honorary Oscar. In 2002, he was a Kennedy Center Honors recipient.
He is probably best loved for his work as the voice of Darth Vader in many of the Star Wars films as well as his voicework in The Lion King.