Do you remember Little Ricky from I Love Lucy and The Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour? If so, you’re probably wondering what he’s up to today! Little Ricky was played by Keith Thibodeaux, who became a star from playing the beloved iconic character.
But what is Keith Thibodeaux up to today? How did he get his start as an actor, and how did he eventually become a successful musician?
I Love Lucy was one of the greatest American sitcoms, and Little Ricky was one of the most memorable characters in the show. We can’t imagine anyone but Keith Thibodeaux in the role.
He came from humble beginnings in Louisiana and soon became part of one of America’s most popular TV families…
Let’s learn more about his incredible life and career…
Keith Thibodeaux was born on December 1, 1950, in Lafayette, Louisiana. At a young age, he took a keen interest in playing drums. At age 3, he began touring with the Horace Heidt Orchestra as a drummer! His skill for playing the drums was remarkable, and it would serve him throughout his career.
In 1955, Keith’s father took him to audition for the character of Little Ricky on the popular sitcom I Love Lucy.
I Love Lucy followed Lucy and Ricky Ricardo, an American couple that portrayed the idyllic and distinctive American lifestyle that was promoted throughout the 1950s. After a few seasons, Lucy became pregnant, and audiences would soon meet the couple’s son – Little Ricky.
When Keith showed up to the audition, Lucille Ball saw him and immediately knew there was something special about the young boy. So, she called him forward and wanted to see his performing skills. Rather than seeing him act, she watched him play the drums. She was impressed by his skills and realized that she had found her “Little Ricky.”
In 1956, we saw Little Ricky as a young boy. Previously, the character had only been shown as a baby or infant. With Keith’s introduction, we now saw Little Ricky as a full-fledged character. He was credited by his stage name, Richard Keith.
Before we tell you more about Keith Thibodeaux’s life and career, please like this video and subscribe to the Facts Verse channel for more great content and interesting stories on your favorite classic shows and stars! Now, back to the video…
LITTLE RICKY’s LEGACY
Keith Thibodeaux appeared in over 30 episodes of I Love Lucy. He reprised his role as Little Ricky in The Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour and appeared in 13 episodes of this series.
While TV sitcoms from the 1950s and 1960s often seem a bit dated when watched today, the shows created by Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz still hold up. Childhood fans still love watching these shows today. And newer generations are constantly getting introduced to the work of Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz.
Little Ricky remains a popular character even to this day. In a December 2021 interview with The Post Journal, Keith Thibodeaux expressed his surprise at how popular these shows and Little Ricky is – even among younger generations.
Thibodeaux told the news outlet that whenever “a 10-year-old, 12-year-old, or 14-year-old” comes up to him and says what a fan they are and how much they have enjoyed the show, it still blows him away. He went on to touch on the program’s enduring popularity by saying that “during such a creative time and everything that was going on” back during those years, “I Love Lucy sat on top of all that”
I Love Lucy and The Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour is a classic part of American culture. It’s likely that we’ll continue watching Lucy, Ricky, and Little Ricky to this day!
Keith Thibodeaux has visited the Lucille Ball-Desi Arnaz Museum in Jamestown, New York – Lucille Ball’s hometown. He’s amazed that the shows still hold up to this day and is pleased with the legacy that Lucy and Desi have left behind.
Keith has stated on countless occasions how happy he is to have been part of Lucy and Desi’s comic creations. Enjoying his role as Little Ricky on I Love Lucy and The Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour. He felt that his on-screen mother was very motherly to him in real life! He also enjoyed Desi’s company and has stated that the actor made him feel at ease.
Keith even received birthday presents from Lucille Ball while working on set. He still remembers some of the gifts he received from the actress. He even recalls many of the episodes that he enjoyed working on.
One of his favorite episodes of I Love Lucy was called “Lucy and Superman.” In this episode, George Reeves, the first actor who played Superman, made a cameo role on the show. Meeting his hero was one of the highlights of being a child actor that Keith remembers fondly. At the time, he truly couldn’t tell the difference between George Reeves and Clark Kent!
He also loved meeting a few other stars during the years that he played Little Ricky. He fondly remembers meeting Maurice Chevalier and Jimmy Durante.
But what did Keith do aside from playing Little Ricky? What has his life been like since his work alongside Lucy and Desi?
KEITH’s OTHER ACTING ROLES
While Little Ricky is Keith’s best-known role, he also ventured into other acting roles. He mostly played bit parts and small roles on other popular TV shows. These included Shirley Temple’s Storybook, Route 66, Ben Casey, The Bill Dana Show, The Joey Bishop Show, The Sheriff of Cochise, Colgate Theatre, and The Farmer’s Daughter.
But his best-known role outside of Little Ricky was as Johnny Paul Jason in The Andy Griffith Show. He originally played a character named ‘Carter French’ in a 1962 episode entitled One-Punch Opie. But it was as Johnny Paul Jason that we saw Keith in his other famous role.
In this role, he played one of Opie’s friends. He appeared in 13 episodes of The Andy Griffith Show. This is the role he’s most known for outside of his work with Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz.
As an adult, he appeared as the character ‘Steemson’ in the 1975 TV movie A Shadow in the Streets, directed by Richard Donner. This was a unique drama film that followed an ex-convict who tried to reform former inmates. It showed that Keith still had his acting chops as an adult.
His most recent acting role was as a TV Executive in the 2009 Christian film C Me Dance directed by Greg Robbins.
While he seems to have stopped acting, for the most part, he still makes appearances in documentaries about Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz. Most recently, he appeared in a 2020 documentary entitled Lucille Ball: We Love Lucy.
He’s grateful for the life that playing Little Ricky gave him, and he’s happy to have been part of the legacy created by Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz. It’s safe to say that audiences will love watching Little Ricky for many generations to come.
But what did Keith do outside of his acting career? What happened to his excellent drumming skills?
DAVID AND THE GIANTS
Keith never gave up on his drumming and, as an adult, he decided to focus mainly on his music career. He joined the band David and The Giants as a drummer. With the band, he recorded 10 albums and performed hundreds of concerts at venues all over the world.
The band was based in Laurel, Mississippi, and mostly toured around the Southern United States. The group was also very popular in the Northern Soul movement in England.
At one point, Keith left the band, which had broken up due to his brief drug problem. Luckily, he managed to kick this habit before long, and the band eventually reunited. During his adult years, Keith became a Born-again Christian along with other members of the band. They began performing Christian Rock which became very popular among their legions of fans.
To this day, Keith performs in reunion concerts and shows with David and the Giants. His Christian faith has helped him persevere throughout his life. He has been in the spotlight since he was three years old. Many entertainers would not be able to sustain a career for that long – let alone switch from one medium to another. But Keith Thibodeaux is a fine example of a disciplined artist who never stops improving upon his craft.
Little Ricky, Johnny Paul Jason, and the drummer for David and the Giants. How many artists can boast of such a résumé?
KEITH’s PERSONAL LIFE
Keith Thibodeaux is now in his 70s, and his career, albeit not as busy used to be, is still going strong. He still performs with David and the Giants whenever the band can get together. He’s also always happy to discuss his role as Little Ricky and appear in a documentary about Lucy and Desi.
In the 1970s, Keith married ballet dancer Kathy Denton. He serves as the Executive Director for her dancing company, Ballet Magnificat! Also helped her launch a training program for ballet dancers in Brazil.
Now, he lives mainly in Jackson, Mississippi. He has a daughter named Tara, who was born in 1979. He also published his autobiography Life After Lucy in the 1990s.
Keith Thibodeaux, or Richard Keith – as most of us know him by, has lived an incredible life. He’s gone from being a child star to a talented professional musician to a businessman promoting ballet. He’s grateful for his life and career, and his journey is one that all of us can learn from.
For many of us, we’ll always remember him as Little Ricky. Perhaps this is what he’ll be most known for. But one should also appreciate his other acting roles as well as his incredible prowess as a musician.
Did you grow up watching I Love Lucy?
Do you think Keith Thibodeaux got his due as a crucial part of the show? Or do we need to re-watch old episodes to remind ourselves just how great Little Ricky was?
Let’s hear your thoughts in the comments.
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