James Earl Jones' Father Dies

ENGLEWOOD, N.J. (September 18,2006) — Actor Robert Earl Jones, a fixture in Broadway shows and movies and the father of actor James Earl Jones, has died. Jones, 96, died Sept. 7 at the Lillian Booth Actors’ Home, according to the home and Dale Olson, his son’s agent. Jones was a third-grade dropout from Senotobia, Miss., who worked as a sharecropper, then became a boxer before arriving in New York City and taking up acting. The poet Langston Hughes cast him in an early role in the Harlem Suitcase Theatre. Jones appeared as boxing champion Joe Louis in “Spirit of Youth” among other films and Broadway productions before his career was interrupted in the 1950s when he was blacklisted for refusing to testify before the House un-American Activities Committee. His movie career resumed by the late 1950s. He had roles in films including “Odds Against Tomorrow,” “Wild River,” “The Sting” and “Witness” in a career that lasted into the 1990s. In all, he appeared in more than 20 films. He also appeared in several stage productions with his son, James Earl Jones, the actor who gave voice to Darth Vader in the “Star Wars” movies, among dozens of other roles. In addition to his acting, Jones ran marathons, including the New York City marathon in 1996. Besides James Earl Jones, Robert Earl Jones is survived by son Matthew Earl Jones and a grandson. Funeral services were private.

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