‘I Love Lucy’s Little Ricky Actor Keith Thibodeaux Felt Forced to Socialize With Desi Arnaz Jr.: ‘I Had 2 Lives’
I Love Lucy actor Keith Thibodeaux played Little Ricky on the classic television sitcom. His years on the show, he has expressed, were some of the best of his life.
Some of the not-so-best moments, however, Thibodeaux shared, came when he, as a child actor, was obligated to befriend Lucille Ball’s children, Lucie Arnaz and her brother, Desi Jr.
Keith Thibodeaux sometimes spent holidays with the Arnazes
The young child actor got the job as Little Ricky after Desi Arnaz heard him playing a set of drums on the show’s set. With Arnaz’s declaration of ‘I think we found Little Ricky,’ Thibodeaux quickly became a part of the cast and, as well, of the Arnaz family. He was frequently included in family time with the Arnazes, as he told The New York Post in 2019.
“There were very few people that Lucy and Desi trusted to play with their kids and they were very protective of them,” he said. “We’d go to Disneyland and of course go to the front of the line with Lucy and people would look at Lucy and say, ‘Wow, there’s Lucy and Little Ricky!’
Thibodeaux said Ball even invited him – without anyone from his family – to holiday with the Arnazes.
“I went and spent a Christmas with the Arnazes in Palm Springs which I didn’t want to do because I wanted to be with my family,” he said. “It was a very kind of lonely feeling not to be with my family when I was so young.”
Thibodeaux at times resented having to play with the Arnaz kids
As much as he was happy to play Little Ricky on the iconic show, for Thibodeaux work time was work time and when he was “off,” he wanted to be with his own friends.
“I had two lives: my normal life with my friends at school … and this other life when I was on the set,” he said. “I was introduced to Lucy and Desi’s children, Lucy and Desi Jr. When my dad said, ‘Lucy or Little Desi wants you to come over for the weekend,’ I would always be kind of dragging my feet and complaining and crying, ‘I don’t want to go! I want to be with my friends!’
“But I always enjoyed my time over there once I got there. Desi [Jr.] and I were good friends.”
Thibodeaux’s family loves ‘I Love Lucy’
Thibodeaux, now married with a daughter of his own, told the Post that when his daughter was a child, she was enthralled with the program, to both his chagrin and delight.
“My daughter was a real big fan when she was younger — she’s married now and we have a grandson,” he said.
“She would play the [“I Love Lucy”] tapes all the time and I would go, ‘Oh my gosh, I just can’t get away from this show!’ But it was neat to be able to see that another generation and other generations still love it.”
Indeed, generation after generation loves Lucy.