James Earl Jones to Receive Lifetime Achievement Tony Award

Jemal Countess/Getty Images
Jemal Countess/Getty Images

The Tony Awards Administration Committee announced Thursday that two-time Tony Award winner James Earl Jones will receive the Special Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Theatre.


Jones, whose career spans decades, won two Tony Awards, one for The Great White Hope (1969) and the other for Fences (1987). Aside from his theatrical accolades, Jones’ career includes highlights such as Star Wars, The Next Generation series of Roots, as well as Coming to America and The Lion King.

“James Earl Jones has given us a lifetime of unforgettable performances on the stage, and his voice resonates through generations. His legacy is unmatched and his work has had an impact not only on Broadway but across the entire galaxy!” said Heather Hitchens, president of the American Theatre Wing, the organization that presents the Tonys.

In recognizing the honor, Jones spoke about how his love of the theater came about:

In 1957 when I came to New York 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. The second night was Swan Lake, starring Margot Fonteyn. The movement of the bodies just seemed like magic. The third night was Pal Joey. I was captivated by the warmth of the light onstage. 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.

The Tony Awards air June 11 at 8 p.m. on CBS, with Kevin Spacey as the show’s host.

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Wow, congratulations to him. He is so talented. This is stupid but my favorite role of his was when he played the Beast’s owner in The Sandlot.