Geordi La Forge, Kunta Kinte, and the host of Reading Rainbow are all celebrating their 60th birthday today, because guess what, they’re the same guy: LeVar Burton!
Born today, February 16th in 1957, on a U.S. military base in Germany, Levardis “LeVar” Burton Junior entered the seminary at age 13 to become a priest, but left at 17 to attend the University of Southern California’s School of Theatre. While there, writer Alex Haley saw him in a production of Oklahoma! and soon after in 1977, Burton was starring as Kunta Kinte in the hugely successful TV adaptation of Haley’s novel, Roots.
In 1983, Burton began hosting and producing the children’s literacy program, Reading Rainbow, for PBS (and you know you just began singing the theme song). The series ran for 23 seasons with Burton, winning a Peabody Award and twenty-six Emmys! In 2014, Burton campaigned on Kickstarter to bring back a web-based version of the show. In just three days, the campaign raised $5.4 million, over triple its goal.
And how can we salute LeVar Burton without talking about Captain Planet. Burton voiced, Kwame, the leader of the Planeteers with the power of Earth.
Of course we can’t celebrate LeVar without discussing his illustrious directing career, including numerous television shows and TV movies like 1998’s The Tiger Woods Story.
Anything else we’re forgetting…? Well, I guess there was this one little show called Star Trek: The Next Generation. Burton played this blind guy named Geordi La Forge for 176 episodes and four feature films. But no one really cares about that, right?
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Happy Birthday from all of us at SuperFan Los Angeles, Mr. Burton! We’ll make sure to sing you the entire theme song to Reading Rainbow the next time we see you on the street.