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Broadway's Cort Theatre renamed to honor actor James Earl Jones

James Earl Jones Theatre officially dedicated
James Earl Jones Theatre officially dedicated 03:08

NEW YORK -- Legendary stage and screen actor James Earl Jones received a rare honor Monday as a Broadway theater was renamed after him.

The push of a button illuminated a marquee that used to read "Cort Theatre." Now, it's the "James Earl Jones Theatre."

Jones is very familiar with the 110-year-old theater that now bears him name, as he explained to CBS2's Dana Tyler in 2005 while appearing in "On Golden Pond."

"I'll be in the same theater where I did my first stage play, which was 'Sunrise in Campobello,'" he said.

The 91-year-old did not attend Monday's ceremony but delivered a video message.

Jones has 21 Broadway appearances to his credit, along with fan favorite star turns in unforgettable films, such as "Star Wars" and "The Lion King."

The play "Fences" in 1987 earned him the leading actor Tony Award, but his first win in that Tony category was for 1969's "The Great White Hope." He starred in the film adaptation a year later.

An honorary Oscar came his way in 2011, and he is one of a few to complete the rare EGOT, winning Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony awards.

Monday's dedication ceremony included performances from Broadway veterans Norm Lewis and Brian Stokes Mitchell, along with appearances by Mayor Eric Adams and actor Samuel L. Jackson, among other former co-stars and collaborators.

"There is only one James Earl Jones, and I'm so happy to be here at the naming of his theater now. That's, this is just mind-blowing for me," Stokes Mitchell said.

"We have a tradition on Broadway. We consider some houses lucky houses. Now, this is a lucky house," actress Phylicia Rashad said.

The play "Ohio State Murders," starring Audra McDonald, will be the first show to open at the newly renovated and renamed theater. It begins performances Nov. 11.

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