Jones was born January 17, 1931, in Mississippi. He suffered from a stuttering problem as a child and took up acting to combat it. He earned his bachelor's degree in drama from the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor and was soon performing on Broadway; by 1959, he had won a Tony award for his role as a prizefighter in The Great White Hope. He reprised the part for director Martin Ritt's film adaptation of the play and was nominated for his first Academy Award in 1971. Though he lost to George C. Scott (Patton), the nomination itself helped to establish his cinematic credibility.
He appeared in numerous film and television projects throughout
the 1970s, but the turning point would come with Star Wars;
for many moviegoers, his voice would be forever linked to Darth Vader's
black helmet. He later starred in the award-winning baseball classic Field
of Dreams (1989) with Kevin Costner. His more recent roles include