Possessing one of the most instantly recognizable voices in entertainment history, James Earl Jones is one of America's most distinguished and versatile actors. Although best-known to many people as the voice of Darth Vader in Star Wars or as the booming "Voice of CNN," Jones has led a decades-old career encompassing film, television, and the stage.
Born Todd Jones on January 17, 1931, in Arkabutla, Mississippi, Jones was the son of prize-fighter-turned-actor Robert Earl Jones, whom he would not know for many years. At a young age, he moved to Dublin, Michigan, where he was raised on the farm of his mother's parents. Ironically enough, given that his voice would one day make him famous, Jones suffered from a severe stutter as a child, and he seldom spoke as a result. It was with the help of a high school teacher that he began to use his voice to its full potential. After entering the University of Michigan, where he went to study medicine, Jones continued to develop his voice with acting lessons. The lessons gave Jones an appetite for further theatrical experience, and he quit medicine to devote his attentions to drama study. He made his stage debut in a community theatre production in Manistee, Michigan, his last appearance for a while, as he subsequently served time in the military.