James Earl Jones is an American actor. Jones has had a long and successful career as a stage, film, and voice actor, but he may be best known today for giving Darth Vader his voice in the original Star Wars trilogy. James has won many awards in his career, including three Tony Awards, a Grammy Award, and an Emmy Award. Jones has stayed very busy in entertainment and is still a well-known figure.
James Earl Jones Early Life
James Earl Jones was born in Arkansasville, Mississippi, on January 17, 1931. James Earl was mostly raised by his grandparents on a farm in Jackson, Michigan. His father had left the family to try to make it as an actor in New York and Hollywood. As part of the Great Migration, Jones moved to Michigan.
Jones had trouble speaking not long after he moved out of Mississippi. At first, he wouldn’t say anything at all. He didn’t start talking until he was in high school. Later, a teacher helped him deal with his stutter, but he still had minor signs.
Jones went to the University of Michigan to study to become a doctor after graduating high school. But the military structure was too good to pass up, so he joined the Reserve Officer Training Corps. Later, he gave up on becoming a doctor and went to the University of Michigan’s School of Music, Theatre, and Dance to study drama with all his heart. He got involved in the theater because he wanted to do something fun before he was sent to fight in the Korean War because he wasn’t sure if he would ever come back.
After working briefly as a stagehand, James Earl Jones was sent to Korea as a second lieutenant when the Korean War was over. He went to Ranger School, and then he went to the Colorado Cold Weather Training Command. He worked his way up to the rank of first lieutenant before he was let go.
James Earl Jones’s Career
In Michigan, where he was born, James Earl Jones got his start in the theatre. In 1955, he played a part in a play called “Othello.” This led Jones to start working on Shakespeare plays for the rest of his life, and in the 1960s, he became a well-known Shakespearean actor.
Jones also started acting in movies in the 1960s, beginning with “Dr. Strangelove” and “The Comedians.” Then, he became known for his role in the play and movie versions of “The Great White Hope.” Jones did more theatre work and parts in movies like “The Man” and “Claudine” before taking on the voiceover role of Darth Vader in “Star Wars: A New Hope,” which came out in 1977.
Then, in “The Empire Strikes Back” and “Return of the Jedi,” he played the same character again. After doing more theatre, Jones starred in a number of successful movies in the 1980s, such as “Conan the Barbarian,” “Coming to America,” and “Field of Dreams.” Throughout the 1990s, he kept getting good roles in movies. He was in “The Hunt for Red October,” “Patriot Games,” “Clear and Present Danger,” and a lot of others.
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During this time, he improved at voice acting and was asked to play Mufasa in “The Lion King.” During this time, he also starred in TV shows like “Gabriel’s Fire,” “Roots: The Next Generations,” and “Heat Wave.” Over time, he got more roles on TV shows like “Law & Order,” “Will & Grace,” “Two and a Half Men,” “The Big Bang Theory,” and “The Simpsons.” Jones put more effort into theatre work again in the 2010s.
Jame Earl Jones’s Net Worth
James Earl Jones is an American actor who has a net worth of $40 million. Although Jones has enjoyed a long and famous career as a theatre, film, and voice actor, he is perhaps best remembered today for contributing his voice to the character of Darth Vader in the original Star Wars trilogy.
James has won multiple prizes over his career, including three Tony Awards, a Grammy Award, and an Emmy Award. Jones has been quite active in the entertainment business over the decades and continues to be a notable personality.
James Earl Jones Relationships
In 1968, actor James Earl Jones wed his first wife, Julienne Marie, who was also an actress. Their marriage lasted for a total of four years before they decided to separate. Jones wed a fellow actress by the name of Cecilia Hart in 1982. Before Hart passed away in 2016 from ovarian cancer, the couple welcomed one child into the world.
Star Wars Salary Debacle
When James Earl Jones was asked to voice Darth Vader in “Star Wars” (later renamed “A New Hope”) in 1977, he wasn’t sure if the movie would be good. Even though he was offered a share of the movie’s total earnings, he chose to be paid cash up front for his voice role. He spent a couple of hours in the studio recording his lines and was born a total of $7,000 for his time.
This was a great deal for James, who was short on money at the time and needed money to buy food. To put things in perspective, $7,000 in 1977 is about the same as $27,000 today.
However, Jones’s choice to pay in cash turned out to be a terrible idea. As everyone knows, the Star Wars series has become one of our most popular movie franchises. The first movie, released in 1977, made more than $775 million (not adjusting for inflation).
This made it the third most successful movie ever. So what did all of that mean for James Earl Jones? It means, in short, that he lost a lot of money. It’s in the tens of millions.
On the other hand, Sir Alec Guinness chose to include a share of the movie’s box office earnings in his contract, even though he was also skeptical about the movie’s potential. So far, his estate and heirs have received more than $95 million because of this decision. This shows what Jones was missing out on.
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