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Billie Thomas known as Buckwheat from the Little Rascals, 1930s.

Posted by Walter Gido on

Billie Thomas known as Buckwheat from the Little Rascals, 1930s.

Born in Los Angeles, California, Billie Thomas auditioned at the Hal Roach Studios at the age of three. He got a role and his first episode was called, For Pete’s Sake! But he wasn’t playing the role of “Buckwheat” that character was played by female child actress named Carlena (who happened to be Matthew “Stymie” Beard’s sister). Another young girl, Willie Mae Taylor played the role of Buckwheat for three more episodes before Billie Thomas took it over. That’s when it became confusing.

Billie Thomas became “Buckwheat” in the 1935 episode called, Mama’s Little Pirate. But he continued to play the role as a girl. Since the character, “Buckwheat” was originally a girl, Hal Roach and the studio must have wanted to keep it that way even though the new actor for Buckwheat was a boy, Billie Thomas. If you were ever confused about whether he was a little girl or a little boy, this may be the reason.

He wore pigtails with bows, a large over-sized sweater and large over-sized floppy boots. The Buckwheat character played by Billie Thomas finally evolved into a boy after Stymie left the series in 1935. In the 1936, The Pinch Singer, Billie Thomas, as Buckwheat, was now a “he” not a “she”. But talk about confusing his costume didn’t change until the feature film, “General Spanky” when he began to wear overalls and lost the pig tails.

At the age of 23 Billie Thomas enlisted in the U.S. Army where he served for two years, receiving the National Defense Serve Medal and Good Conduct Medal. After his service in the army, Billie Thomas worked as a film lab technician with Technicolor Corporation. He used his skill in editing instead of acting. Billie Thomas was one of the Rascals that had an untimely death at the age of 49, when he suffered a heart attack.

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