Remember Little Ricky From ‘I Love Lucy’? He’s Still Alive Today
Many of us will remember the hit ’50s sitcom I Love Lucy. Even if you were too young to watch the show as it aired, I’m willing to bet you’ve at least watched some reruns. While the main characters were undoubtedly Lucy Ricardo (Lucille Ball) and her husband, Ricky Ricardo (Desi Arnaz), there are also some more minor characters that we may have lost track of over the years. One of those minor characters is Ricky Junior, their son. And as it turns out, the actor who played the little boy is still alive today!
To take it back a little, Lucille Ball became pregnant while filming I Love Lucy, which was extremely controversial for 1950s television. It was quite scandalous at the time that a television show showed and talked about one of the characters being pregnant, but writers turned Ball’s real-life pregnancy into a storyline. After she gave birth in real life, she gave birth and raised a little boy, “Little Ricky,” on the show.
Little Ricky was played by an actor named Keith Thibodeaux, more commonly known as Richard Keith. Keith’s father took him to audition for the part of Little Ricky in 1955. “I walked on the set and there was Lucy, she was standing there and she was looking at me,” he said. “She said ‘OK he’s cute, but what does he do?’ My dad said, ‘Well he plays the drums’ and she said, ‘Oh, come on – I can’t believe that.’ Then, she says ‘Look, we have a drum set over there, go ahead and let him play.’ Eventually Desi Arnaz himself came over and started jamming with me on the drums and then he kind of stood up and said ‘Well, I think we found Little Ricky.'”
According to Lucie Arnaz, Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz’s daughter, Keith felt like part of their family from the get go. “For a long time I thought Keith was related to us, because he went everywhere with us,” she said. “Desi Jr. considered him his best friend and [he] was responsible for teaching him the drums. He came over to our house on many weekends and traveled with them during the summer. My mother kind of adopted him. He is in all of our home movies and photographs growing up and was a great kid, and still is.”
Keith went on to appear in 13 episodes of The Andy Griffith Show during the ’60s, and in 1969, joined the rock band David and the Giants. In 1990, he became the executive director of his wife’s company, Ballet Magnificat. Keith’s autobiography, Life After Lucy, was published in 1994. Keith and his wife are still married, have one daughter together, and chose to settle in Jackson, Mississippi.
It sounds like Keith went on to live quite the exciting life after his I Love Lucy days – it’s so interesting to see where actors from our favorite classic shows ended up!