He deserves all his flowers!
A historic Broadway theatre is being renamed in honor of James Earl Jones, NPR reports.
Jones was born in Arkabutla, Mississippi, raised on a farm by his grandparents, he initially wanted to pursue a career in medicine before he became an actor. Jones got his start on Broadway, first performing in 1957, his first role at the Cort Theatre taking place in 1958, where Jones played in the production Sunrise at Campobello.
The veteran actor went on to build a long and illustrious career, starring in a number of cult roles including voicing Darth Vader in several Star Wars movies, voicing Mufasa in The Lion King, playing the King of Zamunda in Coming to America and giving award-winning performances in plays like Othello and On Golden Pond. Jones is one of few actors to ever achieve EGOT status, earning at least one Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony award, the latter of which he has four. Jones also received the 2017 Special Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement.
Now, the legendary actor is being honored again, this time at the place where his career first began. The Cort Theatre, previously named for entrepreneur and theatre impresario John Cort, is now being renamed in honor of Jones. The theatre opened in 1912 and is considered a staple on Broadway. The building has housed iconic performers and productions from Katharine Hepburn to Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee in Purlie Victorious in 1961, to August Wilson’s Fences production in 2010 with Denzel Washington and Viola Davis.
Robert Wankel, CEO of the Shubert Organization which owns the Cort, spoke about the significance of the renaming, saying, “The Shubert Organization is so incredibly honored to put James – an icon in the theatre community, the Black community, and the American community – forever in Broadway’s lights. That James deserves to have his name immortalized on Broadway is without question.”
The 91-year-old pioneering actor said he’s humbled to have the building renamed in his honor and hopes his story is motivation for the next generation of actors to come.
“For me standing in this very building sixty-four years ago at the start of my Broadway career, it would have been inconceivable that my name would be on the building today. Let my journey from then to now be an inspiration for all aspiring actors,” said Jones.
Congratulations, Mr. Jones! Because of you, we can!
Photo Courtesy of Michael Zorn/Invision/Associated Press