Best Local Gift Gone Bad Fort Lauderdale and Palm Beach 2002 - Lauderhill plaque to James Earl Jones
Lauderhill civic leaders scored big when Tony and Emmy Award-winning actor James Earl Jones agreed to speak at their celebration to honor Martin Luther King Jr. And what better way to show their appreciation than to honor the versatile actor who played the aging ballplayer in Field of Dreams and was the voice of Darth Vader in Star Wars by giving him a plaque? But thanks to the Texas company that produced the $200 plaque, instead of saying, "Thank you James Earl Jones for keeping the dream alive," it thanked James Earl Ray, the Missouri prison escapee convicted of killing the civil rights leader at a Memphis hotel on April 4, 1968. Embarrassed city officials discovered the mistake before the plaque was presented; Jones, ever the gentleman, voiced no criticism, saying, "We have bigger things to worry about." Tune in next year when city leaders honor Dr. Jack Kevorkian for his outstanding contributions to youth in Asia.