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James Earl Jones In A Recording Studio

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Legendary actor James Earl Jones will be a permanent part of Broadway, as it was announced that a historic theater will be renamed after him to honor his legacy.

The Shubert Organization Inc., which owns and operates the Cort Theatre along with 16 other theaters on Broadway and six-off Broadway, announced the Cort’s name will be now known as the James Earl Jones Theatre to honor the 91-year old actor and EGOT winner. The Cort Theatre was built in 1912 and was designed in a neo-classical fashion by notable architect Thomas W. Lamb and named for theater impresario John Cort. The Shubert Organization took over operations of the theater in 1927, and the theater has been closed for renovations, spurred on by the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. The theater is special as it was the place where Jones made his Broadway acting debut in 1958 as Edward the butler in Sunrise at Campobello. The play recounts the story of former President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and his living experience with polio and explores how he remolded his political career.

James Earl Jones has been a commanding presence since then on stage and on screen, winning Tony Awards for Best Actor in 1969 for The Great White Hope and for Fences in 1987 in addition to an honorary Academy Award and two Emmy Awards and a Grammy Award. Continuing to act, he reprised his role in 2021 as King Joffe Joffer of Zamunda in Coming2America and appeared onstage with the late Cicely Tyson as Weller Martin in The Gin Game in 2015.

“For me, standing in this very building 64 years ago at the start of my Broadway career, it would have been inconceivable that my name would be on the building today,” Jones said in a statement regarding the news. “Let my journey from then to now be an inspiration to all aspiring actors.” The theater, located at 138 West 48th Street, will host a formal dedication and renaming ceremony after renovations (which include a new contemporary wing on the building’s western side) are completed this summer. “The Shubert Organization is so incredibly honored to put James — an icon in the theatre community, the Black community, and the American community — forever in Broadway’s lights,” Robert E. Wankel, Shubert CEO and board chair said in the company’s announcement. “That James deserves to have his name immortalized on Broadway is without question.”

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