Home > Uncategorized > February 16 – LeVar Burton

February 16 – LeVar Burton

As a young child, I was an avid reader, and a HUGE fan of the PBS educational series Reading Rainbow. As a teenager, I was still an avid reader but also a closet Trekkie, and therefore a HUGE fan of the TV Sci-Fi series Star Trek: The Next Generation. Today I’d like to wish a Happy Birthday to an African-American actor, director and author who played large parts in both of these shows. Who was this man?…

Levardis Robert Martyn Burton, Jr. (otherwise known as LeVar Burton), was born on this day, February 16, 1957 at the US Army Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany. His parents, Erma Jean and Levardis, Sr. were stationed in Landstuhl at the time, where his father was working as a photographer for the US Army Signal Corps.

Burton grew up in Sacramento, California with his mother and two sisters, and had originally planned to become a priest, enrolling in seminary school at the age of 13. But by the time he had graduated high school, his path had changed, and he decided to attend the University of Southern California’s School of Theater.

Three years after graduating from USC, LeVar made a name for himself for his role as Kunta Kinte in Roots, an award-winning 1977 miniseries based on the novel of the same name by Alex Haley. The story retraces the story of nine generations of Haley’s ancestors, all the way back to Kunta Kinte’s grandmother.

In 1983, Burton became the creator, executive producer, and host of Reading Rainbow, which ran from 1983 until 2006, making it the 3rd-longest running children’s series in PBS history (after Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood and Sesame Street). The show took a novel (pun intended) approach to generating excitement and passion for reading, discussing common themes across children’s literature, and integrating TV with real life by providing library book recommendations and corresponding book certifications. For its efforts and contributions, the show won 26 Emmy Awards and a Peabody Award.

In 1986, Burton joined the crew of the Starship Enterprise when creator Gene Roddenberry asked him to play Lieutenant Geordi La Forge on Star Trek: The Next Generation. He was so popular in the role, he was promoted in the second season to Chief Engineer and stayed on throughout the series as well as each of the feature films that followed.

LeVar Burton now lives in Sherman Oaks, California with his wife and daughter. He divides his time between directing various film and TV projects, serving on the Board for the Directors Guild of America, making guest appearances on a variety of shows, and playing poker in the World Poker Tour. And every now and then, whenever he gets the chance, LeVar still likes to sit down and read a good book to room full of captivated children.

Thanks for reading, and Happy Birthday LeVar!


Categories: Uncategorized
  1. February 16, 2010 at 6:07 pm

    This was a really great article! I’m glad you guys featured LeVar Burton. Reading Rainbow was one of my favorite shows growing up. I always thought he was one those little known important people.

  1. No trackbacks yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: