The James Earl Jones Theatre, formerly called the Cort Theatre, officially opened on December 20, 1912, with Peg o' My Heart starring Laurette Taylor. The venue was originally named after John Cort, founder of the Northwestern Theatrical Association. He commissioned Thomas W. Lamb to design the theatre, which would mirror the Petit Trianon in Versailles.
The Shubert Organization acquired the theatre in 1927, two years before Cort’s death. It has always been used as a traditional theatre except for the years from 1969 to 1972, when it became a television studio with the broadcast of The Merv Griffin Show.
Renovation work began at the Cort Theatre in 2021, and the venue reopened in 2022 under its new name. The building is now named for James Earl Jones, the Tony, Emmy, and Grammy Award-winning actor known for voice roles in The Lion King and Star Wars films and stage performances in shows including The Great White Hope and Fences, which both earned him Tony Awards. He also earned a Lifetime Achievement Tony Award in 2017.
The James Earl Jones Theatre is closest to the 47-50 Sts - Rockefeller Center stop on the B, D, F, and M lines. The closest bus stops are 6th Ave/W 49th St. on the M50 line and 6th Ave/W 47th St. on the M5 and M7 lines.