Broadway’s Cort Theatre Renamed in Honor of James Earl Jones

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In a ceremony on Monday, the Cort Theater was renamed after iconic actor James Earl Jones, the second African-American to have the honor.


As of Monday, the Cort Theatre on Broadway is now to be known by a new name in honor of legendary actor James Earl Jones. The actor, who as the voice of Darth Vader in Star Wars and Mufasa in The Lion King is as iconic for his vocal performances as his on-screen roles, made his Broadway debut on the stage at the Cort Theatre back in 1958 as a 27-year-old with just one line to say. Now the 91-year-old will forever be part of the theater where his career began.


In a video clip played during the ceremony, which was attended by Samuel L. Jackson, Phylicia Rashad, Debbie Allen and Mayor Eric Adams, Jones is seen on a private tour of the recently renovated theater. He says, “I spoke my first line ever on Broadway in this theater. I was a kid.”

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The Cort Theatre underwent a $45 million renovation earlier this year, and the Shubert Organization also announced that they would be renaming one of the 17 theaters it owns in honor of a Black artist. As an actor who has appeared in 21 Broadway productions and is an EGOT-winner, there could be fewer more qualified to have the honor bestowed upon them. Speaking about Jones, Samuel L. Jackson said:

“If you were an actor or aspired to be an actor, if you pounded the payment in these streets looks for jobs, one of the standards we always had was to be a James Earl Jones. Children that don’t know who he is, kids who only know him as Darth Vader or from ‘The Lion King,’ will have an opportunity to come to a theater that’s named after a man who stood for excellence. To have his and August Wilson’s name on the Great White Way is a very important thing.”

Related: Obi-Wan Kenobi Brings James Earl Jones Back as Darth Vader


James Earl Jones Recently Reprized His Iconic Star Wars Role

When Obi-Wan Kenobi arrived on Disney+ earlier this year, and one thing that many fans wanted to know was whether the series would see James Earl Jones bringing his instantly recognizable voice back to the role of Darth Vader. They were pleasantly surprised when Jones did indeed return to the series, but as Samuel L. Jackson noted, there is much more to the actor than just his best-known voice roles.

Regarded as one of the greatest actors in Hollywood, the 91-year-old has almost 190 acting credits to his name and has appeared in every genre since his first appearance in the TV series Guiding Light 70 years ago. Whether playing a dramatic role, comedy, or providing voiceovers, Jones has brought a level of performance that is rarely matched. Now, with his name forever in place on Broadway, where his first stage performance occurred, Jones has been elevated to a position that many can only dream of, which will surely act as an inspiration for generations of young Black actors in the future.