‘I Love Lucy’: Upcoming ‘Jeopardy!’ Guest Host LeVar Burton Has a Surprising Connection to the Classic Show

by Emily Morgan
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What’s one thing LeVar Burton and the late Lucille Ball have in common: “Star Trek.”

As odd as it sounds, Lucille Ball kept the Starship Enterprise on the airwaves (or should we say in space.) As a result of the success from “I Love Lucy,” Ball and her then-husband Desi Arnza created Desilu Productions — which helped create Gene Roddenberry’s original “Star Trek” series.

During the ’50s and ’60s, the company was one of the largest independent production companies in the nation. It was the driving force behind other shows such as “The Andy Griffith Show,” “The Untouchables,” “The Dick Van Dyke Show,” and many more.

After working together as partners for years, Ball and Arnaz divorced in 1960. Yet, the company continued to live as Ball purchased Arnaz’s share of the company in 1962. By that year, Ball was the head of one of the world’s most major studios and was considered one of the most prominent women in Hollywood.

When “The Untouchables” ended production in 1963, Desilu desperately needed to greenlight another show of the same caliber. Herbert Solow, who sought out new ideas, brought Ball two possibilities. The first was for Roddenberry’s “Star Trek,” and the other was “Mission: Impossible.”

Despite the cost of filming something like “Star Trek,” Ball decided to give it a go. The pilot, titled “The Cage,” wasn’t nearly as successful as what it would become. Despite the low ratings and poor reviews, Ball ordered a second pilot titled, “Where No Man Has Gone Before.” In the decades that followed, the show has been a cult favorite and widely regarded as one of the greatest science-fiction series of all time.

Lucille Ball Helped Kickstart LeVar Burton’s Career

Little did he know, LeVar Burton would have Lucille Ball to thank when he booked his breakout role as Lt. Commander Geordi La Forge in the Star Trek: The Next Generation series. He may have ended his run on Star Trek, but now Burton is hoping to live long and prosper on “Jeopardy!” He recently made headlines when he began lobbying to book his spot as one of the quiz show’s guest hosts.

In fact, he was so keen on hosting that he even tweeted his support for a petition seeking to get him on the show. The petition now has hundreds of thousands of signatures.

During an interview, the former “Reading Rainbow” host said he was “invested” in securing a permanent hosting gig on the top-rated game show that would do “justice to the memory of Alex.”

While it’s not clear if Burton will be the permanent host, he’ll get his chance to appear on the “Jeopardy!” stage. His weeklong stint on “Jeopardy!” airs from July 26 to 30.

Outsider.com