Billie Thomas was just a toddler when his mother took him to an audition at the Hal Roach Studios on October 10, 1934. The audition was a success and he appeared that year as an unnamed background player in three Our Gang shorts. The role he would assume the following year, Buckwheat, was portrayed at the time as a pig-tailed little girl.
When Thomas assumed the role of Buckwheat, he kept the pigtails, bulky sweater and boots, continuing to play a little girl. Then, as he morphed into a five-year-old, his character morphed into a boy. Thomas continued to play Buckwheat as the series moved to MGM studios, uttering his characteristic “O-tay!” in another 52 Our Gang comedies.
The Buckwheat character became controversial through the years as a racial stereotype, but Thomas defended the role, pointing out that throughout the Our Gang series black and white characters were treated as equals. Thomas died on October 10, 1980.
Exactly one year later, Eddie Murphy resurrected the character of Buckwheat on Saturday Night Live. Employing the original Buckwheat’s speech patterns and catchphrase “O-tay!”, Murphy used the character in a wide variety of sketches. Buckwheat became so popular on SNL that Murphy decided to kill him off — literally, on the show. After the staged “shooting,” SNL featured endless repeated depictions of the crime in a parody of breathless TV news coverage.
Inspirational Quote for 10/10/16