James Earl Jones Has Received A Huge Honor

James Earl Jones has now had a Broadway theater named after him.

By Mark McKee | Published

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If you were a movie buff in the 1980s and 1990s, you know him as Terrence Mann in Field of Dreams, King Jaffe Joffer in Coming to America, or Admiral James Greer in the Jack Ryan franchise. If you are a casual fan of movies, then you know him as the voice of two of the most famous dads in history, Darth Vader and Mufasa. Either way, James Earl Jones impacted your life and childhood whether you knew it or not, and now according to Movie Web, he is being bestowed with a great honor as the Cort Theater on Broadway will forever carry his name. 

James Earl Jones made his Broadway debut on the stage at Cort Theater in 1958 in a show called Sunrise at Campobello, where he had one speaking line. Sixty-four years later, that same theater is renaming itself from Cort Theater to James Earl Jones Theater. The move comes during a push by the industry to recognize more black actors and comes as good news during a time when other theaters are reporting harsher news

On top of a sixty-year film career that began with a role in Stanley Kubrick’s 1964 film, Dr. Strangelove, and continues with his return to voice his most iconic role in Darth Vader, James Earl Jones also enjoyed a Broadway career that earned him numerous accolades. He is one of the select few who has won all four major awards in the entertainment industry, Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony, called an EGOT. He won his Tony in 1969, his Grammy in 1977, his Emmy in 1991, and was an honorary Acadamy Award winner in 2011 for his legacy of consistent excellence and uncommon versatility. 

The renaming of The Cort Theater to the James Earl Jones Theater comes as part of the newly signed New Deal for Broadway, which outlines an initiative of reforms and commitments to ensure equity on Broadway. Part of the process stipulated that each of the major theater chains, Jujamcyn, Nederlander, and Shubert, would rename at least one theater after a person of color. Jujamcyn already filled their obligation with the August Wilson Theater, and Nederlander will soon have the first theater named after a black woman, the Lena Horne Theater, which left the Cort Theater to carry the name of the legendary actor to fill the obligation for Shubert. 

The newly named James Earl Jones Theater underwent $47 million in renovations earlier this year and expanded accessibility while also adding dressing rooms, rehearsal spaces, bathrooms, lounges, and bars. The ceremony began with footage of Jones and his family taking a tour of the theater while he reminisced about the very first line he spoke on stage, recalling that he was a kid. The ceremony included performances by Norm Lewis and Brian Stokes Mitchell as well as speeches by Mayor Eric Adams and Samuel L. Jackson. Theater Director Kenny Leon said the renaming means everything and challenged anyone to think of an actor who served America and the black community more than Jones.