Fast Facts

  • At 13, decided to become a priest and studied for four years in a Catholic seminary.
  • While a college sophomore, landed the pivotal role of Kunta Kinte in the landmark miniseries Roots; it was his TV debut.
  • For more than 20 years, served as host and co-executive producer of PBS's multi-Emmy-winning children's series Reading Rainbow, which also earned NAACP Image Awards and a Peabody.
  • Made TV directorial debut with a 1993 episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation called "The Pegasus."
  • Published the novel Aftermath in 1997.
  • Launched RRKidz, an interactive book app for children, in 2011.


  • 1977, Emmy — Outstanding Lead Actor for a Single Appearance in a Drama or Comedy Series: Nominee
  • 1999, Grammy — Best Spoken Word Album: Winner
  • 1996, Emmy — Outstanding Children's Program: Nominee
  • 2003, Genie Awards — Best Achievement in Music/Original Song: Nominee


  • Michaela Jean Burton — Daughter
  • Erma Christian — Mother
  • Levardis Robert Martyn Burton Sr. — Father
  • Eian Burton Smith — Son
  • Stephanie Cozart Burton — Wife


  • Attended University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA


  • Birth Name: Levardis Robert Martyn Burton Jr.
  • Birth Place: Landstuhl, West Germany
  • Birthday: February 16, 1957, Aquarius
  • Profession: Actor, TV host, Producer, Director
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