James Earl Jones to receive Lifetime Achievement Award at the Tonys

By Karen Butler  |  April 28, 2017 at 6:36 AM
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April 28 (UPI) -- Beloved actor James Earl Jones is to be honored with this year's Special Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Theater.

Jones, 86, already is a two-time, Tony Award-winner for The Great White Hope and Fences. His other theater credits include On Golden Pond, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Driving Miss Daisy, The Best Man, You Can't Take It With You and The Gin Game. He is also famous for his distinctive voice performance as Darth Vader in the Star Wars films and as Mufasa in the animated movie The Lion King.

"James Earl Jones has given us a lifetime of unforgettable performances on the stage, and his voice resonates through generations. His legacy is unmatched and his work has had an impact not only on Broadway but across the entire galaxy!" Heather Hitchens, president of the American Theatre Wing, and Charlotte St. Martin, president of The Broadway League, said in a joint statement.

"In 1957, when I came to New York to study acting, my father -- the actor Robert Earl Jones -- took me on a 'grand tour,'" Jones recalled. "The first night was to the opera Tosca starring Leontyne Price. I loved the singing, but I didn't understand the format of opera. The second night was Swan Lake starring Margot Fontaine. The movement of the bodies just seemed like magic. The third night was Pal Joey. I was captivated by the warmth of the light on stage. I was not inspired to sing and dance, but I knew I wanted to be in the warmth of the stage light. The fourth night was Arthur Miller's The Crucible. By contrast, it created a cold world, coldness between human beings, but the ideas that Arthur Miller was able to evoke onstage were blazing hot. I knew I wanted to be a part of this and to explore the stage."

Kevin Spacey is set to host the Tony Awards recognizing excellence on Broadway on June 11. The gala will air on CBS.

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