James Earl Jones to Receive Special Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement

The 86-year-old actor made his Broadway debut in 1957

Last Updated: April 27, 2017 @ 10:10 AM

James Earl Jones will receive a special Tony Award in June for lifetime achievement in theater, the awards’ administration committee announced Thursday.

The 86-year-old actor made his Broadway debut in 1957 and went on to win Tony Awards for “The Great White Hope” in 1969 and August Wilson’s “Fences” in 1987. He most recently appeared on Broadway opposite Cicely Tyson in the 2015 revival of “The Gin Game.”

He also earned a Golden Globe and Oscar nomination for the big-screen adaptation of “The Great White Hope,” and an honorary Oscar in 2012. In 1991, he picked up dual Emmy Awards for the series “Gabriel’s Fire” and the miniseries “Heat Wave.”

Jones recently reprised two of his biggest movie roles, voicing Darth Vader in “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” and Mufasa in the upcoming Disney live-action remake “The Lion King.”

“In 1975 when I came to NY to study acting, my father — the actor Robert Earl Jones — took me on a ‘Grand Tour.’ The first night was to the opera ‘Tosca’ starring Leontyne Price. I loved the singing, but I didn’t understand the format of opera,” Jones recalled in a statement.

“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,” Jones said.

The American Theatre Wing’s 71st Annual Tony Awards, hosted by Tony and Oscar-winning actor Kevin Spacey, will air live from Radio City Music Hall on CBS  on Sunday, June 11.

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