William Thomas


March 12, 1931 – October 10, 1980

For some reason, it is incredibly difficult to find a picture of William “Billie” Thomas, Jr. from after 1943.  One look at the kid in the picture above and you get a good feeling for why that’s the case. Thomas played the iconic role of “Buckwheat” in more than 80 of the classic Our Gang shorts of the 1930’s and ’40’s – and then sort of disappeared. In fact, the only picture I could find of Thomas’ post-Buckwheat days was this:


Thomas (right) with Joe Cobb and Spanky

After his somewhat lengthy stint in Hollywood, Billie Thomas left acting and joined the army where he served for two years. He gave up performing entirely and, instead, became a film editor choosing to stay IN Hollywood, but not be OF Hollywood. Thomas died at the relatively young age of 49 of a massive heart attack. This differs, of course, to how many of us who grew up in the 1980’s choose to remember his death.  Thanks to Eddie Murphy and Saturday Night Live, this will always be how I imagine Buckwheat went out:



Inglewood Park Cemetery – Inglewood, CA

Specific Location

Acacia Slope, Lot 773, Grave D; In the southeast corner of the Acacia Slope section, just two spaces up from the south curb and two rows in from the east curb.


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