LeVar Burton’s time to guest host ‘Jeopardy!’ has finally arrived. Here are 5 key things to know about this beloved TV icon before his ‘Jeopardy!’ debut.
LeVar Burton’s name made it into the final group of Jeopardy! guests hosts for the 37th season. The 64-year-old will make his first Jeopardy! appearance on July 26. LeVar is one of the many celebrities who have been a guest host of Jeopardy! in the wake of longtime host Alex Trebek’s death in 2020.
You might be asking, who is LeVar Burton? From Reading Rainbow to his personal life, HollywoodLife has rounded up 5 things you need to know about this TV legend.
LeVar Burton at the Breakthrough Prize Ceremony. (Christopher Victorio/imageSPACE/Shutterstock)
1. Levar Burton is a fan favorite to host ‘Jeopardy!’ permanently.
When the initial guest hosts of Jeopardy! were revealed after host Alex Trebek’s death, LeVar was not amongst the names. An online petition was quickly formed by fans who wanted to see LeVar host and received over 250,000 signatures. In April 2021, LeVar was announced as one of the guest hosts. “I have been a fan of Jeopardy! for all of my life and when this opportunity came by, I could not pass it up,” LeVar said in a video on the official Jeopardy! YouTube page.
It’s not only the fans who want LeVar to be the new permanent host of Jeopardy!. “This is something that I really think is a good idea,” LeVar said on the April 16 episode of USA TODAY’s The Mothership Podcast. He added, “I think it’s a good fit of what the show is, what the show requires and what I feel like I bring to the table.” LeVar also said he wishes to do “justice to the legacy of Alex,” who hosted the game show between 1984 and 2020.
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LeVar will host 5 episodes of Jeopardy. In an interview with Esquire, he called the experience an “intense couple of days.” He added, “I’ve done a lot of things to test myself, like jumping out of an airplane and walking on hot coals with Tony Robbins. This was still the scariest thing I’ve ever done.”
2. His breakout role was in the miniseries ‘Roots.’
LeVar was just 19 years old when he was cast as young Kunta Kinte in the 1977 miniseries Roots. At the time, he was studying at the University of Southern California. Roots became the most-watched miniseries of all time after its initial airing. LeVar earned an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Lead Actor for a Single Appearance in a Drama or Comedy Series. LeVar reprised the role of Kunta Kinte in the 1988 TV film Roots: The Gift. LeVar went on to play Geordi La Forge on Star Trek: The Next Generation from 1987 to 1994. He also notably played Martin Luther King, Jr. in the biopic Ali.
3. LeVar was the host of ‘Reading Rainbow’ for over 20 years.
LeVar began hosting Reading Rainbow when it premiered in 1983. He was also an executive producer. He hosted the educational PBS series for 23 years until 2006. For his work with Reading Rainbow, LeVar received 12 Daytime Emmys and a Peabody Award. LeVar has continued to be active in the world of education. He began a podcast in 2017 called LeVar Burton Reads. In each episode, LeVar reads a short story.
LeVar is still educating children through his Skybrary app, which is a “carefully curated interactive library of eBooks and real-world video explorations designed to engage young readers and foster a love of reading,” according to the Reading Is Fundamental website.
LeVar Burton and Whoopi Goldberg on ‘Reading Rainbow.’ (Everett Collection)
4. LeVar is married.
LeVar married Stephanie Cozart, a professional makeup artist, in 1992. LeVar has two kids: a son named Eian and a daughter Mica. He also has a granddaughter named Sierra.
5. He is an author.
LeVar published the book Aftermath in 1997. He also wrote the children’s book The Rhino Who Swallowed a Storm, along with Susan Schaefer Bernardo. The book was published in 2014.