James Earl Jones

Easton Press James Earl Jones books

Voices and Silences - signed first edition - 1993


Actor James Earl Jones

James Earl Jones, born on January 17, 1931, in Arkabutla, Mississippi, is an iconic American actor whose commanding voice and powerful presence have made him a legendary figure in the world of film, television, and theater. Growing up in a small town, Jones developed a stutter at a young age. Overcoming this obstacle, he discovered the power of his voice and began participating in public speaking and acting. Jones attended the University of Michigan, where he excelled in drama and made his mark as a standout student.

In 1955, James Earl Jones made his Broadway debut in The Egghead, marking the beginning of a prolific stage career. He gained widespread recognition for his role as Jack Johnson in The Great White Hope (1968), earning him a Tony Award for Best Actor—the first African American actor to receive this prestigious honor for a leading role. Jones' resonant voice became one of his most distinctive features, and it led to numerous opportunities in film and television. He provided the voice for one of the most iconic villains in cinematic history, Darth Vader, in the original Star Wars trilogy (1977-1983). His deep, authoritative voice became synonymous with the character, contributing to the cultural impact of the franchise.

In addition to his success in film, James Earl Jones continued to be a force in the world of theater, taking on roles in classic plays such as Othello and The Iceman Cometh. He received another Tony Award for his performance in August Wilson's "Fences" (1987). On the small screen, Jones appeared in various television shows and miniseries, showcasing his versatility as an actor. His talent and contributions to the arts were recognized with numerous awards, including the Kennedy Center Honors in 2002 and an honorary Academy Award in 2011.

Beyond his artistic achievements, James Earl Jones has been a trailblazer for African American actors in the entertainment industry, breaking barriers and paving the way for future generations. His dignified presence, remarkable voice, and exceptional talent have left an indelible mark on the world of performing arts, making him a beloved and respected figure in American and global culture.

Voices and Silences

Voices and Silences is a captivating autobiography written by acclaimed actor James Earl Jones, published in 1993. Born on January 17, 1931, in Arkabutla, Mississippi, Jones emerged from a childhood marked by poverty and stuttering to become one of the most distinguished and recognizable voices in American entertainment. Throughout the pages of Voices and Silences, Jones reflects on his remarkable journey, chronicling his struggles, triumphs, and the transformative power of his craft. From his early years growing up with his grandparents on a farm in Michigan to his discovery of acting as a means of overcoming his speech impediment, Jones offers intimate insights into the forces that shaped his life and career.

Jones's path to success was paved with challenges. Despite his natural talent, he faced discrimination and prejudice as a young African American actor in a predominantly white industry. Yet, through perseverance and determination, he broke barriers and established himself as a force to be reckoned with on both stage and screen. Central to Voices and Silences is Jones's exploration of the role of his voice in his identity and career. His deep, resonant baritone has become iconic, lending gravitas and authority to characters ranging from Darth Vader in Star Wars to Mufasa in The Lion King. Jones reflects on the power of his voice not only as a tool of his trade but also as a symbol of resilience and self-expression.

Beyond his professional achievements, Voices and Silences delves into Jones's personal life, including his marriages, family relationships, and struggles with depression and self-doubt. Through candid and introspective prose, Jones invites readers to accompany him on a journey of self-discovery and growth. Voices and Silences stands as a testament to James Earl Jones's enduring legacy as an actor, activist, and storyteller. In sharing his experiences, he offers wisdom and inspiration to all who aspire to overcome adversity and find their own voice in the world.

James Earl Jones quotes

The following are some memorable quotes from James Earl Jones.

"One of the hardest things in life is having words in your heart that you can't utter."

"I have never been one to look at setbacks as anything more than a challenge. I do not believe in complaining. I believe in solutions."

"I've always believed that life is a journey and not a destination."

"I never thought of myself as being handsome or good-looking or whatever. I always felt like an outsider."

"Acting is just a way of making a living, the family is life."

"Hollywood didn't know if I was an actor or a nut or if I was this crazy character I was playing. I had developed an image of being a little bit unusual, different and wild."

"The world is filled with violence. Because criminals carry guns, we decent law-abiding citizens should also have guns. Otherwise, they will win and the decent people will lose."

"I've worked with the greatest actors, and they're all gone. This is what's so desperate to me. I look around and I ask, 'Where are they?'"

"I've always been an outsider, someone who never quite fits in."

"I've got the kind of career where I never really had to struggle very much. I've never been the guy they said, 'You're too tall, you're too short, you're too fat, you're too thin.' Maybe because I'm not that handsome. Maybe that's what it is."

These quotes reflect James Earl Jones's wisdom, resilience, and profound insights into life, acting, and the human condition.

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