Last modified on January 31, 2019, at 06:26

"Buckskin Bill" Black

William Philippi
"Buckskin Bill" Black

(Rodeo performer
television personality, and
member of the East Baton Rouge Parish School Board, 1994 to 2010)

Buckskin Bill Black.jpg

Born September 8, 1929
Place of birth missing

Resident of Tulsa, Oklahoma (1955)
Resident of Baton Rouge, Louisiana (1955-2018)

Died January 10, 2018 (aged 88)
Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Political Party Democrat
Spouse Elma K. Black (died 2017)
Religion United Methodist

William Philippi Black, known as Buckskin Bill, (September 8, 1929 – January 10, 2018), was a television personality and a school board member from Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

Black appeared daily from 1955 to 1988 on WAFB-TV (CBS) as the western character "Buckskin Bill," who charmed children with his storytelling and good-natured presence. His two children's shows, Storyland aired in the morning, and "The Buckskin Bill Show" ran at 3:30 p.m. on weekdays. When the series ended in 1988, it held the national record for the longest-running children's show in the United States. After the weekday programs, the series ran for two more years as a Saturday morning program.[1]

In 1994, Black was elected to the East Baton Rouge Parish School Board with 82 percent of the ballots cast.[2] Black's victory came amid a school reform movement known as the Community Action for Public Education. Most of the sitting board members at the time were replaced. Black represented the Broadmoor area until he left the board in 2010.[1] 

Black attended Lyon College, a Presbyterian-affiliated liberal arts institution in Batesville, Arkansas, and Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge.[3] While in college, he worked as a rodeo clown. He was a comic and emcee in the United States Army during the Korean War. In 1955, while working at a television station in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Black was contacted by a former boss at the new station,  WAFB, Channel 28. He accepted an offer of a position as an entertainer and advertising salesman. He was first a cameraman before becoming "Buckskin Bill", a Native American scout.[4]

Black worked successfully to establish a zoo in Baton Rouge. For fifteen years, Black signed off each broadcast with the refrain, "Remember, Baton Rouge Needs a Zoo." The zoo opened on Easter 1970. Children in Black's audience were enlisted in an “Elephant March" and collected 650,000 pennies to purchase the zoo's first two elephants named “Penny” and “Penny Too.” Phil Frost, the director of the Baton Rouge Zoo, said the organization is “forever indebted and is truly grateful for Black’s work."[1]

Black received accolades from the National Association of Broadcasters and Baton Rouge's highest civic honor, the Golden Deeds Award. In 1989, he received the annual "Humanitarian Award" from the Baton Rouge Council on Human Relations. Black and his wife, Elma K. Black (1929-2017), a drug abuse and parenting specialist, founded the “I Care Program,” which provides crisis counseling to children in East Baton Rouge Parish.[1]

Black died at the age of eighty-eight from an infection obtained through a partial hip replacement surgery. He was survived by a son and two daughters.[1] Services were held on January 19, 2018, at Broadmoor United Methodist Church in Baton Rouge. Burial was private.[5]

Baton Rouge Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome, Black's fellow Democrat, offered her condolences to the family upon Black's passing: "Not only did he delight generations of Baton Rouge children by giving them their first opportunity to appear on television, he did so while providing some of the first multimedia educational materials in the country and teaching the importance of charity and community. He was a man ahead of his time and lived his life demonstrating that it is the community’s central mission to take care of each other."[1]

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 Charles Lussier and Emma Discher (January 11, 2018). Baton Rouge TV star, community leader 'Buckskin Bill' Black dies. The Baton Rouge Advocate. Retrieved on January 16, 2018.
  2. Live Election Results for East Baton Rouge Parish. Louisiana Secretary of State (October 1, 1994). Retrieved on January 16, 2018.
  3. William P. Black. Retrieved on January 16, 2018.
  4. Who is 'Buckskin' Bill?. Retrieved on January 16, 2018.
  5. 'Buckskin Bill' funeral arrangements announced for Friday in Baton Rouge (January 16, 2018). Retrieved on January 16, 2018.