October 9, 1973
Boyertown, Pennsylvania, United States
Actor, TV host, Creative consultant
Actor Steven Burns achieved great fame with the preschool set as the fun friend to an animated dog on Nickelodeon's entertaining and educational "Blue's Clues" (1996-2002). A natural performer with a fresh-faced, boy-next-door quality, Burns proved an endearing presence, his take on the innocent and childlike 'Steve' of "Blue's Clues" displaying a talent for relating to children without condescension. The Pennsylvania native landed a 1995 guest role on NBC's "Law & Order" as a mentally disturbed young man who dies as a result of experimental shock therapy. The following year, he debuted as the host of "Blue's Clues." As the only human in a two-dimensional cartoon world, Burns, attired in trademark rugby shirt and khakis, acted alongside such characters as Mr. Salt and Mrs. Pepper, their baby Paprika, the sandbox dwelling Pail and Shovel, and of course his aptly named puppy Blue. The premise of the show was fairly straightforward: in order to solve a puzzle, 'Steve' solicits the assistance of the young home viewers by directly addressing them through the camera, even pausing for their response. A charismatic performer, Burns proved an ideal choice to host a show that keeps toddlers actively engaged partly through computer-generated animation. While the show made Burns an instant celebrity with the under-five set and their parents, the program's increasing acclaim and widespread notoriety eventually made him a familiar face to other segments of the audience. Wanting to avoid pigeonholing, however, Burns accepted other roles that allowed him to showcase other personae, like a Dunkin' Donuts commercial in which he was featured as a snide cafe worker and an even more startling guest turn as a murderer on a 1998 episode of the NBC crime drama "Homicide: Life on the Street." Despite conquering these challenging roles, it remains likely that he will be remembered as Blue's best friend.