Vereen, Ben

Star Trek: The Next Generation
Episode: TNG 255 - Interface

Broadway legend Ben Vereen was not only a dancer, singer and actor but a Star Trek fan to boot. He had also played Chicken George, the second-generation slave and son of  LeVar Burton’s starmaking role of Kunte Kinte in 1978’s landmark miniseries Roots. So it is somehow fitting—some 15 years later, in TNG’s final season—that Burton would help snare Vereen to play Edward, the father of his own Geordi LaForge in “Interface.”

Vereen, born Benjamin Augustus Middleton in 1946 in Miami, Fla., currently has a recurring role on How I Met Your Mother as Wayne Brady’s father. He won raves recently playing Lincoln Perry, the 1930s actor revealed as a savvy businessman despite his sad “Stepin Fetchit” black stereotype of the films of that time, in the new play Fetch Clay, Make Man. Vereen’s Tony Award was for best actor in the original musical cast of Pippin in 196, with other roles in Wicked, Fosse, Hair, Jesus Christ Superstar, Grind, Jelly’s Last Jam, and A Christmas Carol. In between, he played the character of E.L. "Tenspeed" Turner on TV in both Tenspeed and Brownshoe and the unrelated JJ Starbuck.