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June 11, 2017 09:17 PM

James Earl Jones was given the highest honor at the Tony Awards this year.

The legendary actor was honored with the Tony Lifetime Achievement award at Sunday’s ceremony (ahead of the telecast) where he took the time to thank his late wife, actress Cecilia Hart.

“I want to thank my wife Ceci for being such a wonderful companion in my life and in my work,” Jones, 86, said in a pre-ceremony before the show. “And for being the great coproducer of our son Flynn and for being so dazzling on the red carpet.”

The couple married in 1982 and had one child together, Flynn Earl Jones. The actress, who was best known for her role as Stacey Erickson in the CBS police drama Paris, died in October 2016 after a year-long battle with ovarian cancer. She was 68.

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Click here to see all of PEOPLE’s Tony Awards coverage, including everything you need to know about the big night and the full list of nominees.

FROM COINAGE: The Tony Awards by the Numbers

Jones, already a two-time Tony Award winner for his work in 1969’s The Great White Hope and 1987’s Fences, has had a prolific career on the stage, notably appearing in numerous Shakespeare productions. He received the Kennedy Center Honors in 2002 for his decades-long career.

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