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Our Gang - Buckwheat One of the most recognizable characters in the Our Gang comedies was William (Buckwheat) Thomas who was a troupe member from 1934 until the series concluded in 1944. Thomas recalled his mother taking him to a tryout at age three--where he was quickly added as a minor character. He was being groomed to replace Stymie as the Gang's black character. Like Farina before him, Buckwheat's gender was a bit of a mystery at first, but he eventually grew into a male role. His trademark 'Otay!' was part of his garbled-English shtick. His wardrobe usually consisted of a striped shirt, a floppy hat, and pants held up by just one suspender. Thomas made an easy transition out of showbiz. He worked as a film laboratory technician for years and also served in the Korean War. (His gravestone wrongly lists him as a WWII veteran.) In August 1980 he was moved to tears after he was given a standing ovation by fans at an Our Gang reunion. Two months later Thomas died suddenly of a heart attack at age 49. Remarkably, Buckwheat got plenty of posthumous fame. Comedian Eddie Murphy had an ongoing Buckwheat-impersonation routine on Saturday Night Live. In 1990, the ABC news program 20/20 aired a segment about a man working in a Tempe, Arizona grocery store who claimed to be Buckwheat. The network was flooded with calls from knowledgeable Our Gang fans who pointed out that the real Buckwheat had died a decade earlier. An angry Spanky McFarland appeared on television to denounce the fraudster, a man named Billie English who had been masquerading as Buckwheat for 30 years. The producer of the 20/20 segment was summarily fired for his shoddy research. Buckwheat's son sued ABC for negligence.
Tags: Our  Gang  Buckwheat  Thomas 
Added: 2nd December 2009
Views: 4324
Rating:
Posted By: Lava1964
Posted by: Laura on 2009-12-03 
20/20 segment was summarily fired for his shoddy research not like anymore! Heck you can even make stuff up and get away with it!
Posted by: Lava1964 on 2009-12-03 
One of the nice things about the Internet is the vast amount of information available at one's fingertips. The days of people masquerading as a famous person for decades, as this joker did, are likely gone because anyone can look up a celebrity's career and find out if he's alive or dead, and other tidbits to bust the phoney.

Apparently there are many people who claim to be COngressional Medal of Honor winners whose claims can now be quickly verified or debunked.
Posted by: Marty6697 on 2009-12-03 
He was one of my favorites.
Posted by: Jedwgrn on 2009-12-04 
I agree Marty. His 'shtick' really worked. Lava needless to say, my guess is many of us are reading your posts and looking the members up as you post them. I've started looking for clips of the Gang.

Keep up the good work. It is interesting.
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