No, It’s Not ‘O-Taay!’

'Oo-taaay!'

Remember Buckwheat? Whatever happened to the young actor who played the character in “The Little Rascals” and then took a dive into oblivion?

ABC’s respected investigative reporting show, 20/20,  decided to find out. In October, 1990, the show claimed it had tracked down Buckwheat to Tempe, Arizona where, sadly, he worked as a grocery bagger. In the televised interview. ‘Buckwheat’ told his sad tale and many viewers felt sorry for him. Some sent money.

It was a great ‘riches-to-rags’ story except for one thing: the real Buckwheat, William Thomas, died over 10-years before the 20/20 show. His IMPOSTOR, Bill English, pretended to be Buckwheat for over 30-years! Uh, oh.

Within a week, a red-faced ABC admitted its mistake, fired the producer of the piece – and was sued by the child star’s son.

William Thomas wouldn’t have liked any of this. He was a quiet, modest man, who worked for many years in Hollywood as a film lab technician. And he never could understand the nostalgia that was making the ‘Rascals” series famous again.

Nonetheless, in 1980, Mr. Thomas reluctantly accepted an invitation to a ‘Nostalgia TV’ convention. He doubted many people would even remember the show – much less what he considered his minor contribution. He was wrong. Even before his introduction was finished, the audience burst into a spontaneous, loud and long, standing ovation which moved him to tears.

It was Buckwheat’s last shining moment. Just three months later, Mr. William Thomas dropped dead of a heart attack. He was 49.

One Response to “No, It’s Not ‘O-Taay!’”

  1. Joseph Belle-Isle says:

    Our TV News went down to Jacksonville Fla’s 8th and Main and asked all the black folks which one was Buckwheat. Offering what looked like a blank check, which it was-for the newsteams lunch’
    The 1st brother said, “I an Buckweat!”
    the 2nd brother said louder, “NO!! I am Buckweat!!”
    3rd one stood up and faced the wall and yelled”I AM BUCKWEAT!!!”
    The entire crowd hanging out selling crack and their sisters ALL started proclaiming, “I AM BUCKWEAT!” HELL NO I AM!” “BULLSHIT MOTHER!I AM.”
    Switchblades were pulled and a small armed army formed.
    And a cop walked up to the reporter and told him, “I wish you guys would quit walking up to a full paddy wagon at lunchtime and asking that question!”
    But the reporter defiantly looked back and said, “I AM SPARTACUS!!”
    “yOWSUH!!,” SAID rOCHESTER STANDING IN THE ROAD WITH HIS WINDOW SQUEEGEE AND PAIL OF WATER.

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