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
  • 2016, Emmy — Outstanding Limited Series: Nominee
  • 2003, Genie Awards — Best Achievement in Music/Original Song: Nominee
  • 1996, Emmy — Outstanding Children's Program: Nominee


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


  • Attended University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA

Next On TVSee all »


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

Trending TonightSee all »

Watch This

Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles Reunite With Supernatural Co-Stars on Kings of Con

Supernatural's biggest stars are apparently too famous to remember Richard Speight Jr and Rob Benedict.