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Also Known As: Levardis Robert Martyn Burton Jr. Died:
Born: February 16, 1957 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: Germany Profession: actor, TV host, producer, director, executive

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

At the age of 19, actor LeVar Burton was catapulted to stardom as the lead in the monumental television miniseries "Roots" (ABC, 1977), only to be confronted by a dearth of satisfying roles for over a decade. That is, until he took on the iconic character of Geordi La Forge in "Star Trek: The Next Generation" (syndicated, 1987-1994). In the few years that followed the airing of "Roots" - a landmark in television history and American culture - the young actor found himself blessed with several starring roles in telepics such as "Billy: Portrait of a Street Kid" (CBS, 1977) and "One in a Million: The Ron LeFlore Story" (CBS, 1978). However, by the early 1980s those choice parts had all but disappeared, and Burton was forced to reconcile himself with series guest spots and supporting roles in television movies. Although his lengthy commitment to the children's educational program "Reading Rainbow" (PBS, 1982-2005) provided personal satisfaction, it was not until he landed the integral role of the U.S.S. Enterprise's Lt. Commander La Forge on "The Next Generation" that Burton truly made his pop culture comeback. In an industry known for its paucity of affirming characters for African-Americans, and in...

At the age of 19, actor LeVar Burton was catapulted to stardom as the lead in the monumental television miniseries "Roots" (ABC, 1977), only to be confronted by a dearth of satisfying roles for over a decade. That is, until he took on the iconic character of Geordi La Forge in "Star Trek: The Next Generation" (syndicated, 1987-1994). In the few years that followed the airing of "Roots" - a landmark in television history and American culture - the young actor found himself blessed with several starring roles in telepics such as "Billy: Portrait of a Street Kid" (CBS, 1977) and "One in a Million: The Ron LeFlore Story" (CBS, 1978). However, by the early 1980s those choice parts had all but disappeared, and Burton was forced to reconcile himself with series guest spots and supporting roles in television movies. Although his lengthy commitment to the children's educational program "Reading Rainbow" (PBS, 1982-2005) provided personal satisfaction, it was not until he landed the integral role of the U.S.S. Enterprise's Lt. Commander La Forge on "The Next Generation" that Burton truly made his pop culture comeback. In an industry known for its paucity of affirming characters for African-Americans, and in which landing one, much less two, career-making roles was all but unheard of, Burton's talent, diversity and perseverance served him exceptionally well in Hollywood.

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Filmographyclose complete filmography

DIRECTOR:

1.
2.
  Blizzard (2003) Director
3.
  Tiger Woods Story, The (1998) Director
4.
  Smart House (1999) Director

CAST: (feature film)

1.
2.
4.
 Star Trek: Nemesis (2002) Lt Commander Geordi La Forge
5.
 Ali (2001) Martin Luther King, Jr
6.
 Dancing in September (2000) Himself
7.
 Our Friend, Martin (1999) Voice Of Martin Luther King Jr In His 20s
8.
 Star Trek: Insurrection (1998) Lieutenant Commander Geordi Laforge
9.
 Trekkies (1997)
10.
 Star Trek: First Contact (1996) Geordi
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

1970:
Entered a Catholic seminary to study for the priesthood at age 13 (date approximate)
1974:
Left the seminary to become an actor (date approximate)
1977:
Acting debut, played Kunta Kinte, the first American progenitor of author Alex Haley's family, in the acclaimed landmark ABC miniseries, "Roots"
1977:
First TV special, guest on "The Paul Lynde Comedy Hour"
1977:
TV-movie debut, starred in "Billy: Portrait of a Street Kid"
1977:
Feature debut, "Looking For Mr. Goodbar"
1978:
Played title role in the TV biopic, "One in a Million: The Ron LeFlore Story" about a street kid who becomes a convict before making it as a major league baseball player
1980:
First substantial feature role, "The Hunter", starring Steve McQueen (in his final film)
1982:
Served as host and producer (began as contributing producer and evolved to co-executive producer) of "Reading Rainbow", a multi-award-winning children's educational series
1987:
Co-starred as Lieutenant Commander Geordi La Forge, part of the futuristic ensemble of the syndicated sci-fi series, "Star Trek: The Next Generation"
1988:
Reprised the role of Kunta Kinte for "Roots: The Gift", an ABC TV-movie Christmas special
1990:
Provided the voice of Kwame for "Captain Planet and the Planeteers"
1993:
TV directorial debut, "Second Chances", a sixth season episode of "Star Trek: The Next Generation" (date approximate)
1994:
Directed a "Star Trek: The Next Generation" seventh season episode entitled "The Pegasus" (date approximate)
1993:
Hosted "The American Television Awards" on ABC
:
Joined the CBS period drama, "Christy", as a recurring character
1994:
Reprised the role of Geordi La Forge for the feature "Star Trek: Generations"
:
Directed episodes of "Star Trek: The Next Generation" spin-offs, "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine" and "Star Trek: Voyager" and later "Enterprise"
1996:
Once again portrayed Geordi La Forge in "Star Trek: First Contact"
1998:
Helmed the Showtime biopic "The Tiger Woods Story"
1998:
Reprised role of Geordi La Forge in "Star Trek: Insurrection"
1999:
Directed "Smart House" for The Disney Channel
2001:
Was briefly seen as Martin Luther King Jr in "Ali"
2002:
Again played the role of Geordi La Forge in the feature "Star Trek: Nemesis"
:
Feature directorial debut. "Blizzard" (lensed 2002)
VIEW ALL MILESTONES

Education

University of Southern California: Los Angeles , California -
University of Southern California: Los Angeles , California -

Notes

On his success in the landmark miniseries "Roots", LeVar Burton told the Los Angeles Times (January 18, 2002): "Well, let's just say that because of 'Roots,' I know what it feels like to be a rock star, and just leave it at that. Look, I was 19. I have no apologies for how I reacted. Am I a better person having gone through that? Absolutely. A lot of who I am was forged by that experience."

Burton is the president of the production company Eagle Nation Films.

In a TV broadcast from the early 1980s bemoaning the paucity of film roles for Black actors, reviewers Roger Ebert and Gene Siskel of "Sneak Previews" revealed that Burton's supporting role in "The Hunter" (1980), Steve McQueen's swan song, was originally written for a dog.

Burton established a scholarship at the University of Southern California.

"I will always want to act, but I plan to do a lot more writing, producing and directing in the future. I want to be one of those people who always does some acting, but I don't plan to give myself the lead in every one of my projects, nor do I want to." --Burton quoted in an Web interview posted at www.fortunecity.se/spockholm/plutosvag/16/levar.htm

Companions close complete companion listing

wife:
Stephanie Cozart. Makeup artist. Met in 1988 during filming of "Roots: The Gift" married in October 1992.

Family close complete family listing

father:
Levardis Robert Burton.
mother:
Erma Christian Burton.
daughter:
Michaela Burton. Born in July 1994.

Bibliography close complete biography

"Aftermath" Warner Books

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