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William 'Buckwheat' Thomas
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    (March 12, 1931-October 10, 1980)
    Portrayed Buckwheat in 93 episodes of the 'Our Gang' (Little Rascals) series
    Died of a heart attack at age 49
    His monikers were Billie Thomas, Buckwheat Thomas, Billie 'Buckwheat' Thomas, William 'Buckwheat' Thomas, Willie Thomas and plain Buckwheat.
    There is debate whether his character was a racial stereotype.
    Eddie Murphy shamelessly lampooned his character on Saturday Night Live, perpetuating the stereotype.
    His estate sued Murphy and SNL.
    A segment on '20/20' narrated by Hugh Downs featured 'Buckwheat' as alive and working as a grocery bagger in Arizona (October 5, 1990).
    It was an impostor who fooled '20/20,' 10 years after his death.
    'Our Gang' creator Hal Roach took an instant liking to him and hired him the first day he auditioned.
    He was well liked by cast and crew members.
    The other African-American cast members, Matthew 'Stymie' Beard and Allen 'Farina' Hoskins, didn't have to defend the 'racial profiling' accusations of their characters the way he did.
    After his contract expired he quietly left show business and became a film technician for Technicolor.
    Three months before his death he attended a 'Little Rascals' reunion and received a spontaneous standing ovation, moving him to tears.
    Little known fact: Both he and Eugene 'Porky' Lee's characters shared the catch phrase 'O-tay!' 'Porky' was the first to use it, in 'Pay As You Exit' (1936).

Credit: Scar Tactics

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