Ken Burns

Ken Burns

Actor, Director, Executive Producer, Screenplay, Director of photography, Producer, Writer


Ken Burns is an American director, producer, and documentary filmmaker best known for his historical documentaries, including his acclaimed series The Civil War. He has been honored with numerous awards, including two Emmy Awards, two Grammy Awards, and a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences.

Burns was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1953. He grew up in a working-class family and developed an early interest in photography and film. At age 14, Burns received his first camera, a used 8mm Bolex. He used it to create his first documentary, a short film about the local fire department.

Burns attended Hampshire College in Massachusetts where he studied film theory and production. After college, he and several friends founded Florentine Films, a production company dedicated to creating documentaries. His first major documentary, The Brooklyn Bridge, was released in 1981.

In 1984, Burns released his first major historical documentary, The Shakers: Hands to Work, Hearts to God. He followed this with two other documentaries about the American Revolution, The War of Independence and The Congress.

Burns' most acclaimed documentary is The Civil War, which aired in 1990. The documentary was a major success, earning Burns critical acclaim and numerous awards. He followed it with a series of other historical documentaries, including Baseball, Jazz, The War, The National Parks: America's Best Idea, and The Roosevelts: An Intimate History.

Burns has also directed several feature-length films, including The Central Park Five, Unforgivable Blackness: The Rise and Fall of Jack Johnson, and The Dust Bowl. He has also produced several television series, including the mini-series Lewis & Clark: The Journey of the Corps of Discovery.

Burns has been honored with numerous awards throughout his career, including two Emmy Awards, two Grammy Awards, and a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. He has also been inducted into the Television Hall of Fame. In 2013, he was the first documentary filmmaker to receive the National Humanities Medal.

Throughout his career, Burns has remained dedicated to creating documentaries that explore the American experience and bring history to life. His work has been praised for its depth, emotion, and meticulous attention to detail. He continues to make documentaries today, ensuring that his legacy as one of the greatest documentary filmmakers of all time lives on.


July 29, 1953

Place of birth

Brooklyn, New York, USA