Chris Burke is thankful for his TV past — and especially the message it gave to the world. The actor, who has Down syndrome, opened up about playing the groundbreaking character Charles “Corky” Thacher in Life Goes On during an upcoming episode of Oprah: Where Are They Now? on OWN.
“It’s real great to be known on TV. I had the opportunity to do something that I always wanted to do, and now I have done it,” Burke, nearly 49, explained.
“It really shows we all have different talents, and stick at what you’re good at,” he continued. “It’s not about performing disabilities. It’s about performing abilities. That’s the message.”
Life Goes On aired for four seasons from 1989 to 1993 and was the first primetime television show to feature a main character (Burke) with a genetic disorder. The series also starred Bill Smitrovich, Patti LuPone and Kellie Martin.
Burke continued to work in TV with appearances in Promised Land, Touched by an Angel, The Division and ER. His most recent work was playing a custodian in the film Mona Lisa Smile in 2003. He’s currently the Goodwill Ambassador for the National Down Syndrome Society.
Burke’s Oprah: Where Are They Now? episode airs this Sunday, Aug. 24 at 9 p.m. EST on OWN.