'The Sting,' Broadway Actor Jones Dies at 96
Actor was the father of James Earl Jones
The veteran actor passed away on Thursday, Sept. 7 at the Lillian Booth Actors' Home in Englewood, New Jersey, report news sources.
Robert Earl Jones was reportedly born in 1911, although family sources claim he was born seven years earlier, but allegedly lied about his age during his boxing career. He was a third-grade dropout who was a sharecropper and then a pugilist before becoming an actor in New York City.
Early in his career, writer Langston Hughes cast Jones in "Don't You Want to Be Free?" at the historic but short-lived Harlem Suitcase Theatre. He alternated between film and the stage throughout his whole life except for a brief interruption in the 1950s when he was blacklisted by the House un-American Activities Committee for refusing to testify.
He often appeared alongside his son James Earl Jones on the stage.
He's probably best known for his role as an aging con man alongside Robert Redford in "The Sting." His other films include "Lying Lips," "Odds Against Tomorrow," "Wild River," "One Potato, Two Potato," "Trading Places," "The Cotton Club" and "Witness."
In 1983, he founded the Harlem Folklore Theater (later renamed the Earl Jones Institute for Film & Television) in New York City to assist women and minorities to pursue acting careers. His son Matthew succeeded him as president of the organization in 2004.
Jones was also a frequent marathon runner and last participated in the New York City marathon in 1996.
Besides James Earl Jones, he is also survived by son Matthew Earl Jones and a grandson.