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James Earl Jones the veteran American actor with his lifetime achievement Oscar, seen relected in a mirror in his dressing room at the Wyndham's Theatre where he is starring in Driving Miss Daisy, in central London. John Stillwell/PA Wire/Press Association Images

Star Wars' James Earl Jones honoured with lifetime achievement Oscar

Oprah Winfrey was also honoured by the Academy, receiving an honourary Oscar for philanthropy, while makeup artist Dick Smith received one for his work on films such as The Exorcist and The Godfather.

THE LEGENDARY ACTOR James Earl Jones has been awarded with a lifetime achievement Oscar.

Jones was presented with the honourary award at the third annual Governors Awards.

Also honoured on the night were Oprah Winfrey and makeup artist Dick Smith.

Jones is famous for voicing Darth Vader in the Star Wars movies, as well as Mufasa in The Lion King.

He accepted his award by video from London’s Wyndham Theater, where he is starring in Driving Miss Daisy with Vanessa Redgrave.

Glenn Close described Jones as “a world treasure” while Sir Ben Kingsley said the 80-year-old actor is “always so damn good”.

Jones said receiving an Oscar in such a fashion is “an actor’s wet dream”, and added he is “deeply honoured, mighty grateful and just plain gobsmacked”.

Smith, the groundbreaking makeup artist who counts The Exorcist and The Godfather among his credits, was lauded for his long career and his generosity in sharing the secrets of his craft.

Writer-directors JJ Abrams, Peter Jackson and Guillermo del Toro saluted the 89-year old.

Winfrey was introduced by Quincy Jones, Travolta, Maria Shriver, producer Larry Gordon and a student she’d never met but whose education she funded.

Travolta said “the academy got it right” when it chose the media mogul to receive its Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award, calling her “the most wonderful person in the world, the most magical person in the world and the most powerful person in the world.”

Winfrey cried as Shriver and the others spoke of her generosity, which includes providing scholarships for 65,000 students.

She said receiving an Oscar for philanthropy is “unimaginable” given her humble beginnings in Mississippi.

“It’s impossible for you to even know what this journey has meant,” Winfrey said.

I’d like to do more films, but to receive the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award means more to me than any film, any acclaim, even an Oscar, because what it says is you all get it. What this really means is that you all understand that what I’ve been trying to do, what I’ve been trying to say all these years, (which) is that all of us can make a difference through the life that we live.

The film academy launched its Governors Awards three years ago to pay tribute to winners of honourary Oscars — prizes previously presented during the Academy Awards telecast.

Jones grew up in Mississippi and is of Irish, African, Choctaw and Cherokee descent.

He began acting after spending time in the US Army.

To fund his training in acting, he worked as a janitor.

Jones has won Tony Awards for his theatre work, and has acted in a number of Shakespearean roles.

Here is Jones showing off his incredible voice while reading Edgar Allen Poe’s poem The Raven, via Liquidintellect on Youtube.

- Additional reporting by AP

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