LeVar Burton

Active - 1977 - 2012  |   Born - Feb 16, 1957 in Landstuhl, West Germany  |   Genres - Children's/Family, Language & Literature

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Biography by Hal Erickson

African American actor LeVar Burton was a 19-year-old UCLA drama student when he was catapulted into international fame. On January 23, 1977, Burton made his professional debut as young Kunta Kinte, the protagonist of the classic TV miniseries Roots. He went on to give first-rate performances in such TV movies as Dummy (79) and One in a Million: The Ron LeFlore Story (78). Among LeVar Burton's more conspicuous TV appearances in the past decade have included his hosting chores on PBS' Reading Rainbow and his regular role as sightless Lieutenant Geordi LaForge on the syndicated Star Trek: The Next Generation (87-92). He has continued playing Lt. LaForge in the feature film versions of Star Trek. Burton is also a published author. Aside from the Star Trek films, his big-screen credits include the biopic Ali. Burton has also directed a handful of projects including episodic television, the senior-citizen romantic comedy Reach for Me, and Miracle's Boys - a drama about three brothers growing up in difficult circumstances.

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  • At 13, decided to become a priest and studied for four years in a Catholic seminary.
  • While a college sophomore, landed the pivotal role of Kunta Kinte in the landmark miniseries Roots; it was his TV debut.
  • For more than 20 years, served as host and co-executive producer of PBS's multi-Emmy-winning children's series Reading Rainbow, which also earned NAACP Image Awards and a Peabody.
  • Made TV directorial debut with a 1993 episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation called "The Pegasus."
  • Published the novel Aftermath in 1997.
  • Launched RRKidz, an interactive book app for children, in 2011.