Governors Awards Film Series

In celebration of Honorary Award recipient James Earl Jones, we presented his Oscar-nominated performance in


"The Great White Hope" (1970)

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Introduced by Academy President Tom Sherak.

With remarks from special guests including Phillip Noyce (director of "Patriot Games," "Clear and Present Danger" ) and actor Courtney B. Vance.

James Earl Jones received an Oscar nomination for his highly acclaimed performance as the first African-American heavyweight boxing champion in "The Great White Hope," a fictionalized portrait of controversial boxer Jack Johnson. Two years earlier, Jones won a Tony Award for originating the role on Broadway.

Jones’s impressive screen debut came in 1964, with his portrayal of B-52 bombardier Lt. Lothar Zogg in "Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb." Jones has proven his versatility with a wide range of roles on film, stage and television, including "Claudine," "Coming to America" and "Cry, the Beloved Country." He charmed as the writer Terence Mann in "Field of Dreams," and became a fixture in the Jack Ryan series as Vice Admiral James Greer, beginning with "The Hunt for Red October."

Ironically, it was Jones’s efforts to overcome a severe childhood stutter that led him into acting and to his becoming the powerful performer whom we know and love today. His rich, distinctive voice – used to such marvelous effect as Darth Vader in the "Star Wars" trilogy and Mufasa in "The Lion King" – has become one of the most recognized voices in the world.

The Honorary Award, an Oscar statuette, is given for "extraordinary distinction in lifetime achievement, exceptional contributions to the state of motion picture arts and sciences, or for outstanding service to the Academy." Jones, along with Honorary Award recipient Dick Smith and Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award recipient Oprah Winfrey, was honored at the 3rd annual Governors Awards ceremony this month.

"The Great White Hope," directed by Martin Ritt, also resulted in an Oscar nomination for Jones’s co-star, Jane Alexander. Print courtesy of 20th Century Fox and the Academy Film Archive. Running time: 103 minutes.

Event Information

November 11, 2011
Samuel Goldwyn Theater