No, It’s Not ‘O-Taay!’


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!!”

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