The executive producer of ABC's "20/20" says that researchers for the television program were duped by an impostor claiming to be the actor who played Buckwheat in the "Our Gang" comedies. The program, narrated by Hugh Downs, claimed to have found Buckwheat working as a grocery bagger in Tempe, Ariz.
-- Associated Press
Internal memo/ABC Television/"20/20:" From the desk of the executive producer: Previews of coming attractions: Program scheduled for week of Nov. 4:
Interview with Leon Trotsky, at his vacation home in Tempe, Ariz. Program features Hugh Downs in the Trotsky living room with Trotsky, his second wife, Conchita, and Luiz, Conchita's son by an earlier marriage, a professional Chihuahua breeder.
Hour-long program shows Leon and Conchita Trotsky assisting in the local Toys-for-Tots drive, preparing Mexican food with his wife and enjoying aerobic jazzercise with other retirees. Trotsky is also shown at the Christmas party at a Tempe nursing home in which he plays Santa Claus much to the delight of the senior citizens.
Special segment shows Luiz while his "Dad" assists him in Chihuahua breeding.
Highlight of program features Trotsky during one of his frequent talks with high school students in Tempe as part of the school's "living history" program. Teens are shown presenting Trotsky with a plaque made by the school's woodworking shop with an ice pick mounted on it, part of what host Hugh Downs describes as "a gag gift" in recognition of Trotsky's contribution to the youth of Tempe. Program scheduled for week of Dec. 9:
Co-host Hugh Downs is on the road again, in Tempe, Ariz., visiting with Raoul Wallenberg, the Swedish humanitarian and World War II hero revered for his stand against the Nazis.
Wallenberg is the assistant produce manager at the same supermarket where Buckwheat works. Wallenberg reveals that he helped Buckwheat to get his job, insisting he was "shocked" to learn Buckwheat was an impostor.
Program segments show Wallenberg active in Toastmasters, visiting shut-ins, distributing Swedish passports to the homeless and also participating in Tempe's nationally recognized "living history" program in the schools. Program scheduled for the week of Feb. 10:
Co-host Hugh Downs, broadcasting live from Tempe, "Where History Comes Alive" Ariz., interviews Field Marshall Erwin Rommel.
Segments show the former Desert Fox and his wife, Yolanda (coincidentally the sister of Conchita Trotsky) playing doubles at a local tennis club, hosting grandchildren from Yolanda's previous marriage at a birthday party at McDonald's and working in a community theater. Rommel, who lives in a trailer in a retirement community, played down World War II and instead chose to discuss the Tempe Little Theatre's upcoming production of "The Pajama Game." Also active in the "living history" program.
Additional programs include Barbara Walters's exclusive interview with Amelia Earhart at a location said only to be "somewhere near Tempe, Ariz.," and Hugh Downs's visit with Geronimo, the former Apache war chief, who is working as a supermarket bagger in Tempe and participating in the nationally recognized living history program.
(Producer's note: Co-host Downs, in a for-your-eyes-only memo, writes from the "20/20" mobile studio in historic Tempe, Ariz., that, in his words, "this town is a gold mine. If we can only keep the lid on it. Everybody's here. Franz Kafka, Cardinal Spellman and Trujillo! I think it's the climate! A lot of them work part-time at the supermarket, too, as baggers!!! And they are all super friendly and really eager to talk with us. PS: The guy who claimed he was Buckwheat wasn't just some practical joker. Turns out that he's really Paul Robeson!!! PPS: Still no word on Elvis.")
Christopher Corbett is the author of the novel "Vacationland."