William "Billie" Thomas Jr. (March 12, 1931–October 10, 1980) was an American child actor, best known as the second Buckwheat in the Our Gang theatrical shorts. In Hanna-Barbera's series of The Little Rascals, he was voiced by Shavar Ross (who also starred in one of the Friday the 13th series of films and would later appear on the sitcom The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air). The cartoon portrays Buckwheat as a gadgeteer, as being interested in science, and as the only person who understands Porky's gibberish.
Although unconfirmed, this version of the character appears to be 6 years old in the series (slightly older than Darla), which was his true age when he appeared in the final Our Gang theatrical short produced by Hal Roach, "Hide and Shriek". Despite being about 8 months older than Darla in real life, he appears to be shorter than Darla in the animated series.
Thomas was the last surviving actor from the Hal Roach era to remain with Our Gang (in fact, he appeared as Buckwheat in the final produced Our Gang short, "Dancing Romeo", released in 1944).
Buckwheat's inventions in the animated series
- Firefly-powered flashlight (a.k.a. "Buckwheat Bug Beam": "It never needs batteries") - "Rascals' Revenge"
- Remote-controlled dancing device on Darla's shoes - "Beauty Queen for a Day"
- An extending mechanical hand designed to deliver the papers without interfering with dogs - "All the Loot That's Fit to Print"
- Deck-cleaning brushes and sponges attached to Darla's and Buckwheat's bare feet - "Cap'n Spanky's Showboat" (it is not stated whether this was Buckwheat's or Darla's idea)
- Four brushes moving back and forth on platform with a string attached to Pete the Pup's tail, boosted by a bicycle pump (a.k.a. "Buckwheat's Big Brush-Off") - "Cap'n Spanky's Showboat"
- A baby buggy with a phonograph attached to it that helps Butch's baby brother, Spike, fall asleep - "Tiny Terror"
- Mechman, a robot for the school science fair - "Science Fair and Foul"
- A merry-go-round with a television attached to it - "Science Fair and Foul" (it ultimately won Buckwheat first prize)
- A machine with mirrors that deflect light to create special effects in "Poached Pooch"
- Remote-controlled laundry tub on wheels with mechanical hands - "Save Our Treehouse!"
- Champion Channel Changer: Remote-controlled channel-changing device with a telescoping arm - "The Zero Hero"
- Buckwheat referenced at least two inventors in the series: Thomas Edison in "Science Fair and Foul", and George Washington Carver in "Fright Night" - the latter of whom may have inspired Buckwheat's interest in science.
- It was discovered on eBay in March 2018 that an ABC placeholder card for The Pac-Man/Little Rascals/Richie Rich Show depicted the Rascals, but unlike in the regular episodes, Buckwheat appeared to wear green shorts and black shoes instead of his long pants and black boots.