POUGHKEEPSIE, N.Y., Dec. 31 (UPI) -- Actor James Earl Jones swore in an upstate New York sheriff with humor and gravitas -- even correcting the sheriff when he didn't repeat the oath properly.
"I did play a judge in a movie called 'Sommersby,'" Jones told a Poughkeepsie, N.Y., audience of more than 250, including U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., witnessing the swearing-in of re-elected Dutchess County Sheriff Adrian Anderson.
Jones, who turns 81 Jan. 17, lives in Dutchess County and is a longtime friend of Anderson's.
He explained he heard about the swearing-in "when I was packing to leave London a few weeks ago" after a three-month run playing Hoke in a revival of "Driving Miss Daisy," with Vanessa Redgrave as Daisy, in London's West End.
"I was hoping I'd have a chance to be here -- and had no idea I'd be asked to act like a judge," Jones said with a chuckle.
He also explained his phone in London "rang one day and the voice on the phone said: 'This is Commander Gray of the London Metropolitan Police. I'd like to request that you meet me at Scotland Yard on Thursday [at] 1 o'clock.'
"I said, 'Well, my days on the run are over,'" Jones told the audience to laughter.
He then wondered if the commander had been put up to making the call by Anderson.
"I said, 'By any chance, have you spoken to 'High Sheriff' Butch Anderson of Dutchess County, in New York, USA?'" Jones said.
Gray said, "Who is that?" Jones laughed.
Later, with a stentorian basso, Jones swore in Anderson, who inadvertently shortened one of the phrases of the oath he repeated.
"And I will faithfully discharge the duties of the office of sheriff," Jones said, reading from the oath.
"And I will faithfully discharge the duties of sheriff," Anderson said.
"The office of sheriff," Jones corrected, judge-like, looking up at Anderson from his paper with mock sternness before smiling.
Video of the ceremony can be seen at www.midhudsonnews.com/News/2011/December/30/Anderson_swearin-30Dec11.html.