James Earl Jones Gets Broadway Theater Renamed for Him

The Cort Theatre will no longer be the Cort Theatre

james earl jones cort theatre
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Broadway’s Cort Theatre is getting a name change. The Shubert Organization, which owns the 110-year-old venue, will rename it for the legendary three-time Tony Award winner James Earl Jones later this year.

The honor comes “in recognition of Mr. Jones’s lifetime of immense contributions to Broadway and the entire artistic community,” which began with the start of his career back in 1957. The 91-year-old actor won his first Tony Award in 1969 for “The Great White Hope,” and again in 1987 for August Wilson’s “Fences.” In 2017, he accepted a lifetime achievement award as well.

The renaming follows last fall’s pledge by the owners and operators of 39 Broadway theaters — commercial and nonprofit — as well as the Broadway League and Actors’ Equity Association to improve diversity and inclusion in the industry. Broadway’s three biggest commercial landlords — the Shubert, Nederlander and Jujamcyn organizations — each promised at least one of its theaters would be named for a Black artist. Jujamcyn already runs the August Wilson Theatre, which it renamed for the late “Fences” playwright in 2005.

“The Shubert Organization is so incredibly honored to put James — an icon in the theatre community, the Black community, and the American communit — forever in Broadway’s lights,” Robert E. Wankel,
Shubert CEO and board chair, said in a statement. “That James deserves to have his name immortalized on Broadway is without question.”

“For me standing in this very building 64 years ago at the start of my Broadway career, it would have been inconceivable that my name would be on the building today,” Jones himself said in a statement. “Let my journey from then to now be an inspiration for all aspiring actors.”

Since the pandemic began, the Cort Theatre has undergone extensive renovation, including the construction of a new, contemporary wing. The work is expected to be completed this summer, and when the building reopens, the Shubert Organization will hold a formal dedication ceremony for Jones.

In total, Jones has has appeared in 14 Broadway productions at Shubert theaters, including two at the Cort.