According to NPR, a famous Broadway theatre is being renamed in honor of James Earl Jones.
Jones was born in Arkabutla, Mississippi, and was raised on a farm by his grandparents. Before becoming an actor, he planned to pursue a career in medicine. Jones made his Broadway debut in 1957, with his first performance at the Cort Theatre in 1958, in the show Sunrise at Campobello.
The seasoned actor went on to have a long and illustrious career, appearing in cult roles such as Darth Vader in multiple Star Wars films, Mufasa in The Lion King, and award-winning performances in plays such as Othello and On Golden Pond.
Jones is one of the few actors to have received an EGOT award, which means he has won at least one Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony award, of which he has four. Jones was also honored with a lifetime achievement award in 2017 for his efforts.
The iconic actor is now being honored once more, this time in the city where his career began. The Cort Theatre, which was originally named after entrepreneur and theater mogul John Cort, will now be renamed after Jones. The theatre first opened its doors in 1912 and has since become a Broadway institution. From Katharine Hepburn through Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee in Purlie Victorious in 1961 to August Wilson’s Fences production in 2010 with Denzel Washington and Viola Davis, the structure has hosted renowned artists and shows.
“The Shubert Organization is so incredibly honored to put James – an icon in the theatre community, the Black community, and the American community – forever in Broadway’s lights. That James deserves to have his name immortalized on Broadway is without question,” said Robert Wankel, CEO of the Shubert Organization, which owns the Cort.
The 91-year-old pioneering actor expressed his gratitude for the building’s renaming and expressed hope that his narrative will inspire future generations of actors.
“For me standing in this very building sixty-four years ago at the start of my Broadway career, it would have been inconceivable that my name would be on the building today. Let my journey from then to now be an inspiration for all aspiring actors,” said Jones.