James Earl Jones is an American actor whose career spans more than seven decades. He has been described as "one of America's most distinguished and versatile" actors for his performances in film, theater and television, and "one of the greatest actors in American history".
James Earl Jones was born on January 17th of 1931 in Arkabutla, Mississippi. James Earl was raised primarily on a farm in Jackson, Michigan by his grandparents after his father left the family to pursue an acting career in New York and in Hollywood. Jones came to Michigan as part of the Great Migration.
Jones suffered from speech impediments shortly after moving away from Mississippi. At first, he refused to speak at all, remaining fully mute until he entered high school. A teacher later helped him deal with a stutter, although he still shows slight signs of a stutter to this day.
After graduating from high school, Jones attended the University of Michigan as a pre-med major. However, he was lured by the structure that the military offered, and joined the Reserve Officer Training Corps. He later abandoned his goal of becoming a doctor and focused wholeheartedly on drama, attending the School of Music, Theatre & Dance at the University of Michigan. Part of his reasoning for becoming involved in drama was simple: he wanted to do something enjoyable before he was drafted into service during the Korean War, as he was not sure he would ever return from the conflict.
After a brief stint working as a stagehand, James Earl Jones found himself deployed as a second lieutenant after the Korean War had ended. He attended Ranger School and then cold weather training command in Colorado. He eventually reached the rank of first lieutenant before being discharged.
James Earl Jones began his career with theatre work in Michigan. In 1955, he appeared in a production of "Othello." This sparked the beginning of a career-long involvement with Shakespeare productions, and Jones became quite a prominent Shakespearean actor in the 60s.
Jones also began his film career in the 60s, starting with roles in movies like "Dr. Strangelove" and "The Comedians." He then gained recognition for starring in the play "The Great White Hope" as well as its film adaptation. After more theatre work and performances in films like "The Man" and "Claudine," Jones accepted a voiceover role as Darth Vader in 1977's "Star Wars: A New Hope." He then reprised his role in "The Empire Strikes Back" and "Return of the Jedi."
After more theatre work, Jones starred in a number of successful films during the 80s, including "Conan the Barbarian," "Coming to America" and "Field of Dreams." This string of successful film roles continued throughout the 90s, and he appeared in films like "The Hunt for Red October," "Patriot Games," "Clear and Present Danger," and many others. His voice acting career also advanced during this period, and he accepted the voice role of Mufasa in "The Lion King." During this period, he also starred in TV series such as "Gabriel's Fire," "Roots: The Next Generations," and "Heat Wave."
Over the years, more TV roles came on shows like "Law & Order," "Will & Grace," "Two and a Half Men," The Big Bang Theory," and "The Simpsons." Throughout the 2010s, Jones focused more on theatre work once again.
James Earl Jones is an American actor who has a net worth of $40 million.