James Earl Jones to Be Honored For His Famous Voice

Pam WrightLife

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James Earl Jones, 83, will be honored tonight for his famous voice as the recipient of the Voice Icon Award during the first-ever Voice Arts Awards at the Museum of the Moving Image.

Jones may have the most recognizable voice known to man and has loaned his vocal cords to create the personas of Darth Vader and Mufasa in Disney's The Lion King, among many others.

Oddly enough, the Tony-winning and Oscar-nominated actor will be celebrated for something that gave him great pain as a child. Jones said he had a stutter so severe that he refused to speak at all.

"I once did not speak. I was mute. When I finally did speak, though, I spoke as an adult," Jones said.

Jones gives credit to his teacher for the deep, rich voice that emanates from the actor today.

"I was 16 or 17, and my teacher said, 'You remember yourself speaking as a child, you're now hearing yourself as an adult, don't get impressed with it. Don't listen to it, because you can fall in love with the melodious of it. If you listen to it, then nobody else will,'" he said.

The new annual event will honor the best voices of the year from television, film, video games, commercials, and audiobooks.

"There is magic in the human voice," Jones, who will fittingly receive the first Voice Icon Award ever, said to The Associated Press. "And I'm honored."

Jones said he was thrilled when he learned how his iconic CNN tagline touched soldiers returning from the Gulf War.

"The time I was most proud of that was during the first Iraq war. Fliers would come back to base; they would mention that once they got inside and they heard, 'This is CNN,' they knew they were home, or a piece of home. I'm very proud to represent that," he said.

Jones said he loves many of the characters that he has brought to life with his voice, but he has a particular affinity with Mufasa.

"I found myself as an adult watching it with great interest and great involvement. When Mufasa died, I understood Simba breaking down and crying because Daddy is gone. ... That had an effect on me, that film."

Jones said it's not likely he'll reprise the role of Darth Vader anytime soon, despite rumors to the contrary.

"Oh, Darth is dead. Darth is dead," he said.

Jones is currently starring in You Can't Take It With You on Broadway.

Pam Wright