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January 17

James Earl Jones

James Earl Jones is also famous for several voiceover roles, including the voice of Darth Vader in the Star Wars films and Mufasa in The Lion King.

Paul Hawthorne/Getty Images

1931: The Man with the Velvet Voice
James Earl Jones is born in Arkabutla, Mississippi
It's hard to believe but actor James Earl Jones--known for his smooth, deep basso voice--once suffered from a severe stutter.

At college, where he planned to study medicine, Jones enrolled in acting lessons to conquer his speech impediment. A stunning improvement gave Jones an appetite for further theatrical experiences and he switched his focus to theater. After graduation, he moved to New York City to pursue acting, supporting himself with behind-the-scenes manual labor jobs.

In 1957, Jones made his Broadway debut, which caught the attentions of both stage and film directors and launched him to star status. In 1969, he won a Tony Award for The Great White Hope, and garnered an Oscar nomination for the film adaptation. He won a second Tony Award in 1987 for his work in Fences, and was also a 2002 Kennedy Center Honoree.
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