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James Earl Jones to Accept the 2012 Marian Anderson Award

June 4, 2012
Philadelphia, PA–June 4, 2012–Mayor Michael Nutter announced today that James Earl Jones—one of the country’s most critically acclaimed stage and screen actors—will receive the 2012 Marian Anderson Award. Mr. Jones will accept the Award at a Gala Concert produced in partnership with The Philadelphia Orchestra on Tuesday, November 19, 2012, at the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts. 
In making the announcement, Mayor Nutter noted that, “James Earl Jones has been a part of American life for decades, beginning with small parts in iconic films such as Dr. Strangelove to culture changing stage roles in plays like The Great White Hope. He has given voice to iconic roles like Darth Vader in the Star Wars Trilogy, and he has been a brilliant screen presence in films such as Cry the Beloved Country and Field of Dreams. We are delighted that the Marian Anderson Award’s board of directors has chosen him as the recipient of the Award for 2012 and look forward to welcoming Mr. Jones when he comes to Philadelphia on November 19 to accept the Award.”  
Pamela Browner White, Chair of the Marian Anderson Award, spoke about the board’s decision to honor James Earl Jones: “Each year we are charged with identifying an artist whose career achievements approach those of the legendary Marian Anderson. The career of James Earl Jones has been marked with tremendous acclaim as one of this country’s great acting talents. Whether on stage, the big screen, or television, he has been a constant presence in our lives and continues to thrill film and theater audiences around the world. He is an actor of great intelligence and tremendous dignity and we are thrilled that he has agreed to accept the Award for 2012. We look forward to putting an amazing evening together to honor him.”
Born in Mississippi and raised in Michigan, James Earl Jones made his Broadway debut in 1957. In 1969, he won a Tony Award for his breakthrough role as boxer Jack Johnson in the Broadway hit The Great White Hope (for which he also received an Oscar nomination for the 1970 film adaptation), and he won a second Tony Award in 1987 for August Wilson’s Fences.
Mr. Jones’ impact on American theater became even more firmly established in the 1970s when he began a long-standing collaboration with South African playwright Athol Fugard, acting in The Blood Knot, Boseman and Lena, and the critically acclaimed Master Harold and the Boys.
His many memorable films include the Tom Clancy trilogy, The Hunt for Red October, Patriot Games, and Clear and Present Danger, along withMatewanField of Dreams, and the film version of the Alan Paton classicCry, the Beloved Country . James Earl Jones has been a significant presence on television for decades in a wide-range of work includingRoots: The Next Generation and an Emmy-winning performance in Heat Wave, the 1990 TNT drama about the 1965 riots in Watts. He also earned an Emmy for his work in the 1990-92 series Gabriel’s Fire.
In spring of 2008 he portrayed Big Daddy in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof on Broadway with Terrance Howard, Anika Noni Rose, and Phylicia Rashad, which had a second run in London with Adrian Lester, Sanaa Lathan, and, again, Ms. Rashad. The production won an Olivier Award for “Best Revival” and Mr. Jones was nominated for an Olivier in the Best Actor category. In 2011, he starred in the Broadway and London productions ofDriving Miss Daisy with Vanessa Redgrave and Boyd Gaines, and he is currently starring in the Broadway production of The Best Man, along with Angela Lansbury, John Larroquette, Candace Bergen, Eric McCormack, and Kerry Butler.
In addition to the many awards he has received as an actor—two Tonys, four Emmys, a Golden Globe, two Cable ACEs, two OBIEs, five Drama Desk Awards, and a Grammy—Mr. Jones has been honored with the National Medal of Arts in 1992 and the John F. Kennedy Center Honor in December 2002. He also was honored by the Screen Actors Guild with the Lifetime Achievement Award in January 2009. And in 2012 he received a Lifetime Achievement Oscar from the National Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
Ms. Browner White went on to say, “Part of our work is to encourage young men and women to follow their dreams, inspired by people like Marian Anderson and James Earl Jones. Miss Anderson would be the first to say that her career was the result of many people helping her along the way. And in addition to honoring the artistic giants of our times like Mr. Jones, the Award works to ensure those who will inspire future generations get the help they need in starting their own careers. Please plan to join us on November 19 when we present James Earl Jones with this year’s Award in an evening that celebrates the importance of artists in our culture.”
For information about attending the November 19 Award Gala Dinner please call the Award office at 215-893-1837.
The Marian Anderson Award honors artists whose leadership on behalf of a humanitarian cause(s) or issue benefits society. Previous recipients include Mia Farrow (2011), Bill Cosby (2010), Maya Angelou and Norman Lear (2008), Richard Gere (2007), Sidney Poitier (2006), Ruby Dee and Ossie Davis (2005), Oprah Winfrey (2003), Danny Glover (2002), Quincy Jones (2001), Elizabeth Taylor (2000), Gregory Peck (1999), and Harry Belafonte (1998). No Award was given in 2004 or 2009.
Created in 1998, the Award is named for the great Philadelphian and American singer Marian Anderson, and is produced and administered under the direction of J. Patrick Moran. Since its inception, the Award program has provided more than $500,000 in free public programs, residencies, commissions, and grants to young artists.
This year’s Gala Performance, the details of which will be announced this summer, will be preceded by the annual black-tie Gala Dinner, also at the Kimmel Center, which is a fundraiser for the Marian Anderson Award and its grant programs, which support young artists. Those interested in attending the Gala Dinner, which includes a premium ticket to the Gala Performance, can call the Marian Anderson Award office at 215-893-1837.
Marian Anderson, the most celebrated contralto of the 20th century, was born in Philadelphia on February 27, 1897, to an African-American family of modest means. Recognized for her extraordinary musical talent, as well as her generosity and commitment to others, Miss Anderson was a master of repertoire across operatic, recital, and American traditional genres. Throughout her musical career, she played an incalculably vital role in the acceptance of African-American musicians in the classical world.
In 1957 Ms. Anderson was appointed by the U.S. Department of State to serve as a Special Envoy to the Far East, and the following year President Dwight D. Eisenhower named her to the post of delegate to the General Assembly of the United Nations. She sang at President John F. Kennedy’s inauguration in 1961, and in 1963 President Lyndon B. Johnson bestowed the Presidential Medal of Freedom upon her. On her 75th birthday, in 1974, the U.S. Congress passed a resolution ordering a special gold medal minted in her honor. On April 8, 1993, Marian Anderson died at the age of 96 in Portland, Oregon.