Nickname of Billy “Buckwheat” Thomas, black child actor who starred in a series of Hal Roach Our Gang comedies in the 1930s.
In the 1980s, comedian Eddie Murphy resurrected the Buckwheat character in a series of spoofs performed on NBC’s late night comedy SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE.
Buckwheat, now fully grown, was a superstar who overindulged in sex, drugs and rock and roll. He was killed in a comedy skit (a la John Lennon) by a lone gunman but later resurfaced in a skit about a visit to his childhood friend, Alfalfa. Buckwheat’s catchphrase is “O-Tay!”
In 1990, George “Spanky” McFarland, Buckwheat’s costar in the Our Gang films exposed an impostor who had fooled the magazine-of-the-air 20/20. The real Buckwheat Thomas had died 10 years earlier.
Note: William Russ who played Roger LoCoco on the crime drama WISEGUY/CBS/1987-90 referred to everyone he met as “Buckwheat” (in the same way Don Johnson who played detective Nash Bridges called everyone “Bubba” on the police drama NASH BRIDGES/CBS/1996-2001.)