Who Is Levar Burton?
LeVar Burton is an American actor, presenter, director, and author from Sherman Oaks, California. He is probably best known for his role as Lt. Commander Geordi La Forge in Star Trek: The Next Generation.
He is also known for being the host of the long-running PBS children’s series Reading Rainbow and the young Kunta Kinte in the 1977 award-winning ABC television miniseries Roots.
He graduated at seventeen with the class of 1974 and he enrolled at the University of Southern California with a drama scholarship. At California University, he was a member of the Sigma Alpha Mu fraternity. He graduated from the University of Southern California’s School of Theatre.
He was one of the five inaugural honorees to the Sacramento Walk of Stars in 2016. Sacramento named LeVar Burton Park in his honor in 2019. This park is located in the Meadowview neighborhood, down the street from the house where Burton and his sisters grew up.
How Old Is LeVar Burton Burton?
Levardis Robert Martyn Burton Jr. was born on February 16, 1957, in Landstuhl, West Germany (now Germany). He is 62 years old as of 2019.
LeVar Burton Family
Burton was born to Erma Gene (née Christian), a social worker, administrator, and educator, and Levardis Robert Martyn Burton, who was a photographer for the U.S. Army Signal Corps at the time he was stationed at Landstuhl. He has two sisters who were raised by his mother in Sacramento, California.
He was raised Roman Catholic and he entered St. Pius X Minor Seminary in Galt, California, to become a priest at the age of thirteen. Burton read works by the philosophers Laozi, Friedrich Nietzsche, and Søren Kierkegaard while in seminary, causing him to question the Catholic dogma that Catholicism is the only true religion.
LeVar Burton Wife
Burton married Stephanie Cozart-Burton, a professional make-up artist, in 1992. The couple lives in Sherman Oaks, California.
LeVar Burton Kids
Burton has two children, a daughter Michaela “Mica” with his wife, and a son, Eian Burton (born 1980) from a previous relationship.
LeVar Burton Daughter
Michaela was an employee of Rooster Teeth’s news division, The Know. Burton is also a fan of the English football club Arsenal.
LeVar Burton Roots |Kunta Kinte
Burton made his film acting debut in 1977 when he played Kunta Kinte in the ABC award-winning drama series Roots, based on the novel by Alex Haley. His audition for the role of Kinte was the first of his professional career. He was nominated for the Emmy for Best Actor in a Drama Series for his work.
He also reprised the role of Kunta Kinte in the 1988 television film Roots: The Gift. When he was asked about the societal impacts of Roots, Burton is quoted as saying, “It expanded the consciousness of people.
LeVar Burton Reading Rainbow
He was the host and executive producer of Reading Rainbow starting in 1983 for PBS. Reading Rainbow ran for 23 seasons, making it one of the longest-running children’s programs on the network. It garnered over 200 broadcast awards over its run, including a Peabody Award and 26 Emmy Awards, 11 of which were in the Outstanding Children’s Series category. He won 12 Emmy awards as host and producer of the show.
After the series went of in 2006, Burton and his business partner Mark Wolfe, acquired the global rights to the brand and formed RRKIDZ, a new media company for children. The brand was reimagined as an all-new application for the iPad in 2012. It was an immediate success becoming the number-one educational application within 36 hours. At RRKIDZ, he serves as co-founder and curator-in-chief. He ensures that the projects produced under the banner meet the high expectations and trust of the Reading Rainbow brand.
Burton and numerous coworkers from other past works started a Kickstarter campaign project to bring back Reading Rainbow on May 28, 2014. To keep with the changing formats to which young children are exposed, his efforts are being directed at making the new program web-based, following the success of the tablet application he helped create in recent years.
Burton’s desire is to have the new Reading Rainbow be integrated into the classrooms of elementary schools across the country, and also for schools in need to have free access.
The Kickstarter campaign has since raised over $5 million, reaching triple its goal in only three days.
LeVar Burton’s Star Trek
He was approached by Gene Roddenberry in 1986 with the role of the then Lieutenant Junior Grade Geordi La Forge in the Star Trek: The Next Generation television series. This character is blind but is granted “sight” through the use of a prosthetic device called a VISOR worn over his eyes.
Geordi started out serving as the USS Enterprise’s helmsman, and as of the show’s second season, had become its chief engineer. He was considerably better known than Patrick Stewart in the United States, due to his roles in Roots and Reading Rainbow. When this show premiered the Associated Press stated that Burton’s role was essentially the “new Spock”. Burton laughed in disbelief at the idea, stating “that speculation never came to fruition” in a 2019 interview.
He also portrayed La Forge in the subsequent feature films based on Star Trek: The Next Generation, beginning with Star Trek Generations (1994) through Star Trek: Nemesis (2002).
Burton directed two episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation, and several episodes of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Star Trek: Voyager, and Star Trek: Enterprise.
LeVar Burton Community
He made an appearance as himself on NBC’s Community in the episodes Intermediate Documentary Filmmaking in February 2011.
LeVar Burton’s Big Bang Theory
LeVar has also appeared as a fictionalized, humorous version of himself on The Big Bang Theory. He first appears in the episode “The Toast Derivation”, in which he almost attends a party thrown by Sheldon (before swearing off Twitter). He appears in November 2012 in the episode “The Habitation Configuration”, in which he appears on “Fun With Flags” in exchange for lunch and gas money, and also in the November 2014 episode “The Champagne Reflection”, in which he returns for the 232nd episode of “Fun With Flags” in exchange for Sheldon deleting his contact details.
LeVar Burton Director
Burton also directed episodes for each of the various Star Trek series then in production throughout the 1990s and early 2000s. He also directed episodes of Charmed, JAG, Las Vegas, and Soul Food: The Series, as well as the miniseries Miracle’s Boys and the documentary The Tiger Woods Story.
He directed the 1999 Disney Channel Original Movie Smart House starring Katey Sagal, Kevin Kilner, and Jessica Steen.
LeVar Burton’s Net Worth
The German-born American actor, presenter, director, and author has an estimated net worth of $6 million.
LeVar Burton Movies and TV Shows
LeVar Burton Movies
Some of Burton’s films include;
1976 – Almos’ a Man
1977 – Looking for Mr. Goodbar
Billy: Portrait of a Street Kid
1978 – One in a Million: The Ron LeFlore Story
1979 – Dummy
1980 – Guyana Tragedy: The Story of Jim Jones
1981 – The Acorn People
Grambling’s White Tiger
1983 – Emergency Room
1984 – The Jesse Owens Story
1985 – And the Children Shall Lead
The Midnight Hour
1986 – The Supernaturals
1987 – A Special Friendship
1988 – Roots: The Gift
1993 – Firestorm: 72 Hours In Oakland
1994 – Parallel Lives
Star Trek Generations
1996 – Yesterday’s Target
Star Trek: First Contact
1998 – Star Trek: Insurrection
1999 – Our Friend, Martin
2000 – Dancing in September
2001 – Ali
2002 – Star Trek: Nemesis
2003 – Blizzard
2008 – Reach for Me
2009 – Taken in Broad Daylight
Superman/Batman Public Enemies
2011 – And They’re Off
2012 – Rise of the Zombies
2015 – Practice Makes Perfect
2018 – In Saturn’s Rings
LeVar Burton TV Shows
1976–1979 – Rebop
1977 – Roots
1982 – Trapper John, M.D.
1983 – Fantasy Island
1983–2006 – Reading Rainbow
1984 – The Love Boat
1987 – Murder, She Wrote
1987 – Houston Knights
1987–1994 – Star Trek: The Next Generation
1990–1996 – Captain Planet and the Planeteers
1993 – Batman the Animated Series
1995 – Christy
1995 – Happily Ever After: Fairy Tales for Every Child
1996 – Gargoyles
1997 – Pinky and the Brain
1998 – Star Trek: Voyager
1998 – Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood
2000 – Becker
2003 – Boomtown
2005–2009 – Family Guy
2009 – The Super Hero Squad Show
2010 – Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!
2010 – The Jensen Project
2011–2014 – Community
2011–2014 – The Big Bang Theory
2012 – Face Off
2012–present – Transformers: Rescue Bots
2012–2015 – Perception
2013 – Adventure Time
2014 – Hell’s Kitchen
2016 – Roots
2017 – OK K.O.! Let’s Be Heroes
2018 – Explained
2019 – NCIS: New Orleans
2019 – Weird City