Legendary actor James Earl Jones, born on this day in 1931, continues to be called upon as both an actor and a creative talent. No one is more a student of the game than Jones. Besides being having a permanent place in Star Wars history as the voice of Darth Vader, older fans will recognize him for his role as King Jaffe Joffer in
“Coming to America,” and for his work in theater as Jack Jefferson in “The Great White Hope.” He has touched on every creative medium you can think of throughout his decades-long career, and is still active in various theatrical endeavors at the age of 84.
His trademark is his voice, which he developed after getting over a severe stuttering problem as a child. The most notable voiceover roles are as Darth Vader in the “Star Wars” series from 1977-1983, and as one of the most memorable characters in Disney history, King Mufasa in “The Lion King.” James provided the voice for the Disney blockbuster film, even though the character only had about 1/10 the screen time of the rest of the cast! It was a very poetic character that could have only been voiced by Jones, which is why Disney already had Jones selected long before they finished the blueprint on Mufasa.
As an actor, he has tip toed between Broadway theatre, the big screen, and the small screen. Notable roles in his honor are “East Side/West Side,” “Dr. Strangelove,” “Of Mice and Men,” and “Fences.” His strong voice and presence made him perfect for commanding roles, and due to his versatility, he hasn’t been afraid to take on smaller comedic parts as well. A good example of this was how he co-starred alongside the late Michael Clark Duncan and Martin Lawrence in “Welcome Home, Roscoe Jenkins.”
Long before Morgan Freeman became the voice, that title belonged solely to James Earl Jones. He is a one of a kind actor that keeps his ego in check, and can handle any role that is thrown at him. That by itself is a rare occurrence, and he is of a generation that will probably never again be seen in our lifetimes. Because seriously, after James Earl Jones, Morgan Freeman, Samuel L. Jackson, and Denzel Washington, who do we have?
Here’s to hoping that the voice lives on for many generations more, as the industry needs him more than he needs it!
http://www.achievement.org/autodoc/page/jon2bio-1 and http://www.biography.com/people/james-earl-jones-9357354#success-on-stage-and-screen