Levardis Robert Martyn Burton, Jr. professionally known as LeVar Burton, is an American actor, director and author who first came to prominence portraying Kunta Kinte in the 1977 award-winning ABC television miniseries Roots, based on the novel by Alex Haley. He is also well known for his portrayal of Geordi La Forge on the syndicated science fiction series ‘ and as the host of the PBS children’s program Reading Rainbow.
Burton was born to American parents at the U.S. Army Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in West Germany. His mother, Erma Jean, was a social worker, administrator, and educator. His father, Levardis Robert Martyn Burton, was a photographer for the U.S. Army Signal Corps, and at the time was stationed at Landstuhl. Burton and his two sisters were raised by his mother in Sacramento, California. Burton was raised Catholic and, at the age of thirteen, entered a seminary to become a priest. He attended Christian Brothers High School and graduated in the class of 1974. He is a graduate of University of Southern California’s School of Theatre.
Burton played a role as a visitor to Fantasy Island, was a participant in Battle of the Network Stars, a guest of the Muppet Shows televised premiere party for the release of The Muppet Movie, and a frequent guest on several game shows. In 1986, he appeared in the music video for the song “Word Up!” by the funk/R&B group Cameo.
Burton accepted an invitation to host Rebop”, a multicultural series designed for young people ages 9?13, produced by WGBH for PBS.