Jones, James Earl

Jones, James Earl,

1931–, American actor, b. Tate co., Miss. Jones made his stage debut at the Univ. of Michigan and appeared thereafter for seven years with the New York Shakespeare Festival in Macbeth (1962), Othello (1963), and King Lear (1973), among many others. He achieved Broadway stardom with his powerful portrayal of the fighter Jack JohnsonJohnson, Jack
(John Arthur Johnson), 1878–1946, American boxer, b. Galveston, Tex., the son of two ex-slaves. Emerging from the battle royals (dehumanizing fights between blacks for the amusement of white patrons) of his youth, he defeated Tommy Burns in 1908 to become the
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 in The Great White Hope (1968). He also appeared on Broadway in The Iceman Cometh (1973), Of Mice and Men (1974), and Athol FugardFugard, Athol
(Athol Harold Lanigan Fugard) , 1932–, South African playwright, actor, and director. In 1965 he became director of the Serpent Players in Port Elizabeth; in 1972 he was a founder of Cape Town's Space Experimental Theatre.
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's A Lesson from Aloes (1980). He returned triumphantly to the stage in August WilsonWilson, August,
1945–2005, American playwright and poet, b. Pittsburgh as Frederick August Kittel, Jr. Largely self-educated, Wilson first attracted wide critical attention with his Broadway debut, Ma Rainey's Black Bottom
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's Pulitzer Prize–winning Fences (1987). Jones has had supporting roles in numerous films, most notably as the voice of the villain Darth Vader in Star Wars (1977), The Empire Strikes Back (1980), and Return of the Jedi (1983).


See his autobiography (1993, with P. Niven).

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Jones, James Earl

(1931–  ) stage/film/television actor; born in Arkabutla, Miss. Son of an ex-prizefighter-actor, he attended the University of Michigan, and after Army service, studied acting in New York, making his Broadway debut in 1957. After his first major role in The Great White Hope (1966), he went on to star in a wide variety of classic and contemporary plays. His varied film career included lending his distinctive resonant voice (only) to Darth Vader in Star Wars (1977).
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.