Broadway is celebrating James Earl Jones’ legacy by naming a Broadway theatre after him.
The Shubert Organization announced on Wednesday that New York’s Cort Theatre, which has been called the Cort since the day it opened in 1912, will be renamed the James Earl Jones Theatre, in honor of the famed actor.
Located on 48th Street in Manhattan’s Theater District, the Cort Theatre has housed numerous productions, including “Sunrise at Campobello,” in which Jones made his stage debut in 1958, as Edward the house butler.
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“For me standing in this very building sixty-four years ago at the start of my Broadway career, it would have been inconceivable that my name would be on the building today,” Jones, 91, said in a statement from the Shubert Organization. “Let my journey from then to now be an inspiration for all aspiring actors.”
The name change was initiated by The Shubert Organization Inc., which owns and operates 17 Broadway and six off-Broadway theaters, including the Shubert Theater, where Jones has appeared in 14 productions.
“The Shubert Organization is so incredibly honored to put James — an icon in the theatre community, the Black community, and the American community — forever in Broadway’s lights,” Robert E. Wankel, Shubert CEO and board chair, said. “That James deserves to have his name immortalized on Broadway is without question.”
Jones, who has appeared in over 100 films and continues to perform on stage as recently as 2015, when he starred in The Gin Game as well as in the 2021 film Coming to America, told the Times he was honored by the move. “It means a lot,” he said. “It’s too heavy for me to try to define.”
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The Times notes the James Earl Jones Theater will become the second Broadway house named after a Black artist after the August Wilson Theatre.
Jones will be honored through a formal dedication ceremony in the summer following the completion of construction at the Cort Theatre. When it reopens in the summer, it will officially become the James Earl Jones Theatre.