James Earl Jones
Place of Birth: Arkabutla, Mississippi, U.S.
Date of Birth: January 17, 1931
James Earl Jones is an American actor. His roles include the films Dr. Strangelove, The Great White Hope, Claudine, Conan the Barbarian (1982), Matewan, Coming to America, and its sequel; Field of Dreams, The Hunt for Red October, The Sandlot, The Lion King (1994), and its remake (2019); and the voice of Darth Vader in Star Wars. He has also had a lengthy and acclaimed stage career, and provided the vocals “this is CNN.”
He is the son of Ruth (Connolly) and Robert Earl Jones, who was also an actor. James served in the U.S. Army during the Korean War. He was married to actress Cecilia Hart, until her death. The couple had a son.
His parents were both black.
James has said that he has Irish, Choctaw Native American, and Cherokee Native American ancestry. It is not clear if any of these lineages have been verified/documented.
James had a totem pole erected in front of his house as a tribute to his Native American ancestry. He has stated that it is an emblem of Native American culture as a whole.
James’s paternal grandfather was named Robert Washington Jones (the son of George Washington Jones and Virginia). Robert was born in Mississippi.
James’s paternal grandmother was Elnora/Nora Wallace (the daughter of Pitcher Wallace and Sally Hunter). Elnora was born in Mississippi.
James’s maternal grandfather was John Henry Connolly (the son of Wyatt Connolly and Sharlett/Charlotte Jeeter/Jeter). John was born in Mississippi. Wyatt was the son of Brice Connolly and Parthenia. Parthenia was said to be a white Irish woman who married an African-American man, Brice. However, the 1870 U.S. Census lists both Brice and Parthenia as “Black”, and both as having been born in Alabama. James’s great-grandmother Sharlett was the daughter of Ned Jeeter and Janet.
James’s maternal grandmother was named Maggie/Margaret Lee Anderson. Maggie was born in Mississippi.
James is a second cousin, three times removed, of actor Jak Knight. James’ maternal great-grandparents, Brice Connolly and Parthenia, were also Jak’s maternal great-great-great-great-grandparents.
Sources: Interview of James Earl Jones, along with pictures of James’s family – http://www.achievement.org
James’s father on the 1910 U.S. Census – https://familysearch.org
James’s paternal grandparents, Robert Washington Jones and Elnora/Nora Wallace, on the 1920 U.S. Census – https://familysearch.org
James’s maternal great-grandparents, Wyatt Connolly and Sharlett/Charlotte Jeeter/Jeter, on the 1880 U.S. Census – https://familysearch.org
Wyatt Connolly and Sharlett/Charlotte Jeeter/Jeter on the 1900 U.S. Census – https://familysearch.org
Wyatt Connolly and Sharlett/Charlotte Jeeter/Jeter on the 1910 U.S. Census – https://familysearch.org
Sharlett/Charlotte Jeeter/Jeter on the 1920 U.S. Census – https://familysearch.org
Sharlett/Charlotte Jeeter/Jeter on the 1930 U.S. Census – https://familysearch.org
James’s maternal great-grandfather, Wyatt Connolly, on the 1870 U.S. Census – https://familysearch.org