The Character Counts Meme posts every first and third Tuesday of the month. I’d love to have you join me for spotlighting, celebrating and honoring people of good character, who’ve led exemplary lives and who’ve lived with honor, integrity, dignity and sacrifice, and those who’ve inspired others by overcome great obstacles in their own lives. I believe that when we celebrate and exhort good character traits, we can turn the tide, and see more of them. At least I’d like to try! If you are joining us, please leave your name and link at the Mr. Linky down below and don’t forget to leave a comment!
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This week I have chosen to spotlight a man who is a fantastic actor and orator. He has long been a favorite (actor) of mine, but when I learned his history, I grew to admire him even more. While he is best known for his deep, rich voice, it wasn’t always that way. I hope you are as inspired as I was.
James Earl Jones was born January 13, 1931, in Arkabulta, MS. His parents separated before he was born, and he was raised by his maternal grandparents. When he was five, the family moved to a farm in rural Michigan. The move was so traumatic for the young boy, he developed an incapacitating stutter, and he refused to speak, essentially becoming mute. Though he could speak some, his stuttering was so bad, he wouldn’t do speak more than a few words at a time, even for his family. This debilitating condition lasted for eight years.
Jones began communicating through writing. He began to express himself through writing poetry. Things started to change for Jones in high school. He had a teacher, Donald Crouch, who saw through his insecurities, believed in him, and challenged him. When Jones turned in a well-written poem, Crouch pretended to believe that Jones couldn’t have written it himself, and had him recite it in front of the class to prove it. With his own words memorized, Jones found he could speak without stuttering. Crouch encouraged Jones to compete in high school debates and oratorical contests. One day, when he was a senior, Jones won both a public-speaking contest and a scholarship to University of Michigan.
When he started at the University, Jones majored in pre-med. He also joined the Reserve Officer Training Corp, where he excelled. It wasn’t long before he found himself more drawn to drama than medicine. Though he completed four years of college, he left without a degree. In late summer of 1953, he received his 2nd Lieutenant’s commission and his official orders. He was off to Ft. Benning, where he completed Ranger training.
After completing his service as an Army Ranger, Jones then headed to New York City to pursue his acting career. In time, he began getting small roles, which eventually led to larger, better roles. He has performed on Broadway, in movies, in TV shows, and has done voiceover work. Many people were surprised to find that his was the voice of Darth Vader in the Star Wars movies. And he lent his voice to Disney for his role as Mufasa, in the animated film The Lion King. One very special project he did though was to narrate an audio version of the KJV New Testament.
Jones is believed to be politically conservative, due to the fact that he supported the Gulf and Iraq wars, and is also a 2nd Amendment advocate. However, he prefers to keep his political views secret, and has stated that his endorsement is not for sale (which I respect).
James Earl Jones has become a well-respected and beloved actor and orator. He has won numerous awards for his voice and performances, including an Oscar nomination, numerous Emmy, Golden Globe and Tony awards and nominations. And all of this was accomplished by a man, who couldn’t even speak as a boy! Through encouragement from others, hard work, persistence, and an arduous program of public speaking, he overcame his debilitating handicap, to become one of the most talented and sought after voices in our time. Today he is one of America's most celebrated actors, renowned for what critics have called "the voice of the century."
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