James Earl Jones: Voices and Silences

Front Cover
Scribner, 1993 - Biography & Autobiography - 393 pages
0 Reviews
James Earl Jones, one of the great actors of our time, has joined forces with biographer-scholar Penelope Niven to write a moving and memorable book about his remarkable life - a life in which he has faced extraordinary challenges and reached new heights at every turn. Born in Mississippi, James Earl Jones came from a family of farmers and sharecroppers who lived twelve to a house. He was a shy boy who was raised by his grandparents; he spent much of his time in the fields alone. When his family moved from rural Mississippi to a farm in Michigan, the trauma of being uprooted triggered a stuttering, and he withdrew into silence, relinquishing the power of speech. Between the ages of ten and fourteen, he kept his entire world locked up inside himself. Encouraged by an English teacher and the music of poetry, he eventually reclaimed his voice and soon made his first tentative attempts at acting. He then moved to New York City, began to know his father, the actor Robert Earl Jones, and plunged into acting lessons himself. Within a few years, he had set off-Broadway afire with spectacular performances in Jean Genet's The Blacks and Athol Fugard's The Blood Knot. Critics referred to him as a "dynamo". His next stop was Broadway, where he rose to stardom in The Great White Hope, for which he won a Tony award. His performances were also nothing short of dazzling in Othello, Paul Robeson, and August Wilson's Fences, for which he won another Tony award. In recent years he has garnered tremendous acclaim for his roles in television and in movies such as Matewan, Field of Dreams, Coming to America, and Sommersby. James Earl Jones is currently recognized throughout the world for his unmistakablevoice, but readers of this spellbinding account will discover him as a man of deep thought and silences as well.

From inside the book

What people are saying - Write a review


User Review  - Jane Doe - Kirkus

An autobiography in brief, as well as a supremely rewarding text on acting, by the always brooding, green-eyed black actor today best known as the voice of Darth Vader and the steely, saturnine voice ... Read full review

James Earl Jones: voices and silences

User Review  - Not Available - Book Verdict

At 62, James Earl Jones has earned a curious stature: a distinguished stage actor, lauded for playing Othello, Paul Robeson, and Jack Johnson, he also works frequently as a character actor in films ... Read full review


Voice Lessons

17 other sections not shown

Other editions - View all

About the author (1993)

James Earl Jones is a renowned and beloved actor who has achieved success in television, film, and theater. Jones's voice is known by people of all ages and walks of life?the "Star Wars" fans who know him as the voice of Darth Vader, children who know him as Mufasa from Disney's "The Lion King. "In addition to the many awards he has received as an actor--two Tonys, four Emmys, a Golden Globe, two Cable ACEs, two OBIEs, five Drama Desks, and a Grammy--Jones has been honored with the National Medal of Arts in 1992 and the John F. Kennedy Center Honor in December 2002.? He also was honored by the Screen Actors Guild with the Lifetime Achievement Award in January of 2009.

James Earl Jones?most recently?starred in the Broadway production of? "Driving Miss Daisy" with Vanessa Redgrave. He lives in Pawling, New York.

Penelope Niven is the author of critically acclaimed biographies of poet Carl Sandburg and photographer Edward Steichen, as well as Swimming Lessons, a memoir, and Voices and Silences, coauthored with the actor James Earl Jones. She is the recipient of three fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Thornton Wilder Visiting Fellowship at the Beinecke Library at Yale, and other fellowships and awards.

Bibliographic information