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Bucky Buchanan can’t let go

George Knapp
George Knapp

When Las Vegas lawyer James “Bucky” Buchanan died in 2009, he was described by friends and loved ones as a larger-than-life character. The description might have been more accurate than any of them knew.

Buchanan practiced law in Las Vegas from 1965 until his death in a car accident. Along the way, he defended the notorious, the downtrodden and the powerful, and was known for his, ahem, oversized personality. In addition to his affinity for the law and UNLV, he was an enthusiastic big-game hunter and stuffed his Sunrise Mountain home with the trophies of big cats, elephants and other unfortunate exotic critters. When he died, hundreds of people, including judges, prominent lawyers and politicians, were on hand for the memorial services. But what if Buchanan changed his mind about leaving?

Details are a bit sketchy, but there are reports that some sort of spectral being who looks and acts a lot like Buchanan has been haunting locations where Buchanan spent much of his later years. There have been so many incidents of strange noises and sightings that loved ones contacted a well-known ghost-hunting team to investigate. This team of paranormal investigators has considerable experience in Nevada, most of it from investigating spooky old buildings rather than occupied homes. Team members don’t want to spill too many beans, but I am told they spent several hours this past week in one of Buchanan’s former homes, and that they encountered a significant amount of weird activity, much of it captured on video and in still photos, more than enough to warrant follow-up investigations.

I doubt that anyone who knew Buchanan would find this all that surprising. The hard-headed attorney really loved the life he had in Las Vegas and likely had no interest in cutting it short. Hopefully, further info about the ghost of Bucky will float my way in the near future.


My friend and colleague Gary Waddell has set a record that will likely never be broken. He’s been on the local TV airwaves for well over 30 years, 32 of them as the best-known anchorman in the state, at KLAS Channel 8, and a prior stint at Channel 3. In all, he has been on local TV more hours than anyone in history, and given the changes in the TV biz, it is a record likely to stand forever. Waddell announced his semi-retirement a few days ago, and it is no exaggeration to say that his are shoes that cannot be filled.

Back in the mid-’80s, I had the pleasure of working as Gary’s co-anchor for a few years. He is exactly the person he seems to be on the air — solid, as dependable as a metronome and a genuinely good guy. Among his many journalism honors was an award from UPI for anchoring the Best Newscast In America. I cannot count the number of times that someone has called me “Gary,” presumably because his name became synonymous with TV news in our town. For awhile, it bugged me that people called me by someone else’s name. After awhile, I was thankful to know they confused me with someone of his character and quality.

Although Gary will no longer be tied to the anchor desk, he plans to keep a hand in TV news and is talking to both KLAS and the PBS affiliate, KLVX, about producing special programming, including pieces about Nevada history and culture. I know he wants to do some traveling on his motorcycle, visit parts of the world he has not yet seen, but I imagine he will not be a stranger to his many admirers, and that other unanticipated opportunities await. Gary’s last day as an anchorman will be Aug. 3.


The taxi driver who long-hauled the Knappster back in May during a trip from the airport has been cited for multiple violations by the Taxicab Authority. I’ll have the full details (and his real name) in next week’s column. … The Peppermill Restaurant and Fireside Lounge turns 40 this year. How many thousands of romances began in the flickering firelight, or on the Peppermill’s velvet couches? And how many millions of diet-busting meals have been served by perky waitresses in those schoolgirl skirts? Managers say they are planning some big events later in the year and hope to gather as many former employees as possible for a reunion . … To all of you who have asked if I am related to attorney Greg Knapp, the answer is no. Perhaps you have seen Mr. Knapp’s oh-so-clever ads, in which he makes it clear that when it comes to UFOs, he’s not the guy, but if you have a DUI, well. … One can only imagine how much he must have paid to a crack advertising agency to come up with a campaign as inspired as that. (UFO/DUI/WTF?) All I can say is, I do hope that you will continue to reach out to Knappster for all your UFO needs. … Someone sent me material from online of a Clark County School District police officer acting like anything but a cop — flipping the bird in photos, bragging about breaking the law, boozing it up. I wonder how long it will be until the photos and the cop’s identity will be made public? … A wonderful art exhibit opened on First Friday and is open for the next few weeks. It’s at Blackbird Studios on South Commerce. The show consists of pieces from more than 40 artists, and it focuses on themes near and dear to my heart: Atomic Vegas (interpretations of how the atomic-testing program affected Las Vegas and the world), Area 51 (America’s favorite secret base) and Extraterrestrials (long rumored to have some sort of presence in our desert). Studio owner Gina Quaranto and her team spent nine months putting the show together. I wanted to buy nearly everything on her walls when I stopped by. Gina has had a tough time keeping Blackbird open. Her first studio was blown to bits by a power company transformer accident a few years ago. The new location is on the far edge of the Arts District, but it’s roomy, funky and fun.

GEORGE KNAPP is a Peabody Award-winning investigative reporter for KLAS Channel 8. Reach him at