Soap Opera History

James Earl Jones Facts: Celebrities Who Started on Soaps

James Earl JonesJames Earl Jones

James Earl Jones is a film, theater, and television actor who arguably has the best voice in all of Hollywood. The actor has been in so many blockbuster films including Field of Dreams, The Lion King, and the Star Wars franchise.

Because he’s a Hollywood icon, it’s also no surprise he has racked up a number of awards along the way. From where he was born and raised to how he became Darth Vader, here are five fast facts about the actor.

Who Is James Earl Jones?

Jones was born on January 17 in Arkabutla, Mississippi, but he was raised by his grandparents on their farm in Jackson, Michigan. Jones developed a stuttering problem as a child, which he says he continues to deal with to this day. He has said he has to think about what he says carefully before saying it. He attended the University of Michigan and focused on drama, but after graduating Jones joined the military.

Soap Beginnings
When he left the Army, Jones moved to New York to study acting at the American Theatre Wing. In 1966, he replaced future Star Wars universe co-star Billy Dee Williams on Guiding Light as Dr. Jim Frazier. Ruby Dee played his wife Martha. He also appeared on As the World Turns as Dr. Jerry Turner.

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Mistaken Identity
In what has to be one of the strangest things to happen to Jones in his life, his “death” was announced during a live broadcast of an NBA playoff game back in April 1998. However, the person who actually died was James Earl Ray, who was convicted of assassinating Martin Luther King.

Becoming Vader

Along with voicing Mufasa in The Lion King, Jones’s most notable voice role has to be Darth Vader in the Star Wars films. However, he wasn’t George Lucas’s first choice for the role, as he initially wanted Orson Welles to do it. But, realizing Welles was probably too well-known, Lucas decided to find someone who sounded like Welles and went with Jones.

Getting Personal With James Earl Jones
Jones first married actress and singer Julienne Marie in 1968, but the pair divorced in 1972. A decade later, he married actress Cecilia Hart and the couple had one son together, Flynn Earl Jones, who was born in 1982. Hart sadly passed away on October 16, 2016, after suffering from ovarian cancer.

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