I Love Lucy is one of the most popular television programs of all time, but most of the popular cast members from the series have sadly passed away. There are only a handful of notable performers that appeared on the show that are still around, and we’ll be catching up with them in this video! Join Facts Verse as we explore the only I Love Lucy cast members still alive today!
Joe and Mike Mayer
The first former I Love Lucy performers that we’ll be taking a look at in this video are twins Joe and Mike Mayer. Many of the I Love Lucy performers that are still around are ones that portrayed the character of Ricky Jr. in one form or another. Several different child actors played Ricky Jr. over the course of the series, and a few of them were twins.
Twins were used to portray the character of Ricky Jr. when he was a baby due to child labor laws. Child labor laws have always dictated that babies are only allowed to work a certain amount of time per day. Because of this, twins are utilized so that one twin can take a break and the other twin can appear before the cameras. The most prominent pair of twins that was utilized to portray the character of Ricky Jr. on I Love Lucy would be Joe and Mike Mayer.
Joe and Mike Mayer portrayed the character of Ricky Jr. for a total of 23 episodes over the course of I Love Lucy’s run. The character of Ricky Jr. was born during the show’s second season, which is when the Mayer twins made their first appearance. Infamously, the episode in which Ricky Jr. was born ended up beating out Dwight D. Eisenhower’s inauguration in the ratings, as they aired at the same time.
Despite playing the role of Ricky Jr. for around three years, Joe and Mike Mayer were never credited for their role. However, everyone nowadays knows that the twins are to thank for many of Ricky Jr.’s early appearances. The twins grew up in Southern California, and Mike has recalled some memorable moments from the classic show’s production. During the fifth-season episode “Lucy and John Wayne”, Ricky Jr. ended up messing footprint impressions that John Wayne had made in front of Grauman’s Chinese Theater. There was a scene in which it appeared as if Ricky Jr. was playing in the wet cement, but it was actually just oatmeal.
The memory of playing in oatmeal on the set of I Love Lucy remains a positive one, but Mike also has some negative memories from performing on the show. According to him, much of the cast got to take a helicopter ride during the filming of another season-five episode, this time by the name of “Bon Voyage”. Mike and his twin brother Joe weren’t given the opportunity to go on the ride, and it made them sad.
After their time performing as Ricky Jr. on I Love Lucy came to an end, the parents of Joe and Mike Mayer ended up deciding that show business wasn’t for them. Today, the twins are happy and healthy living in Idaho, far away from Hollywood. Though they’re both currently retired, Mike grew up to be a high-school teacher while his twin brother grew up to work in printing. During their time on I Love Lucy, the twins only made around $150 a week.
Richard and Ronald Simmons
Another pair of twins that were utilized to portray the character of Ricky Jr. would be Richard and Ronald Simmons. As compared to Mike and Joe Mayer, Richard and Ronald Simmons are a good deal less notable due to the fact that they appeared in far fewer episodes. The most notable thing about this pair of twins would have to be the fact that one of them is named “Richard Simmons”, which just so happens to be the name of another famous television celebrity. For those wondering, the Richard Simmons that played Ricky Jr. on I Love Lucy is not the same Richard Simmons that would go on to make exercise videos.
Sammy Ogg is a former child performer that had a memorable role on I Love Lucy playing one of the unruly Hudson Twins in the episode “The Amateur Hour”. In the episode, Lucy is looking to make a little bit of extra money so she takes a side job taking care of some twins. Little did Lucy expect that these twins would be impossible to take care of! Sammy Ogg played Jimmy Hudson, while a fellow child performer by the name of David Stollery played his twin brother, Timmy Hudson. Prior to appearing in the episode, Sammy Ogg had made several uncredited appearances in notable films. These films include The Day the Earth Stood Still and The Greatest Show on Earth. Coincidentally, Lucille Ball was set to star in the later Cecil B. DeMille picture before she got pregnant. Sammy’s debut came in 1947, when he appeared in Lost Honeymoon at the age of 7.
After his role on I Love Lucy was finished, Sammy Ogg continued doing other television work for Desilu Productions. Later in the 1950s, he also appeared on another television series alongside David Stollery, who had played his on-screen brother on I Love Lucy. This television series was Spin and Marty. David played the titular character of Marty on that television series. Meanwhile, the character that Sammy Ogg played was a side character named Joe.
By the time the 1960s rolled around, Sammy Ogg had decided that he had no future in show business. Today, he’s a minister. Despite leaving show business behind, Sammy Ogg paid public tribute to his time on I Love Lucy alongside former on-screen twin brother David Stollery in 2007. The two appeared at the Lucy-Desi Museum to singing a rendition of “Ragtime Cowboy Joe” with a Lucille Ball impersonator. The museum is located in New York.
Of all the performers that portrayed the character of Ricky Jr. on I Love Lucy, the most notable one by far would have to be Keith Thibodeaux. Keith was hired to play the character when he was only five years old by none other than Desi Arnaz himself. The real-life couple of Desi Arnaz and Lucille Ball took a liking to young Keith, and even included him on personal family getaways with their own children. Because of this, Keith has some pretty fond memories of the two stars. However, it was hard for him at the time that he was appearing on the show to keep from blabbing about his on-screen parents’ personal lives.
Because Desi Arnaz was afraid that American audiences would have a hard time pronounced the name “Keith Thibodeaux”, the Cuban performer came up with the new stage name of “Richard Keith” for the child star tasked with portraying his on-screen son. The audience loved the new, older Ricky Jr., who began having a good deal more time on the screen once Keith was portraying him. At the time that Keith was appearing on I Love Lucy, he was close to the age of Desi and Lucille’s actual children. Keith grew quite close with those two kids, who are Lucie and Desi Jr.
As we’ve already briefly touched upon, David Stollery was one of the child performers tasked with playing the Hudson Twins in the I Love Lucy episode “The Amateur Hour”. Like Sammy Ogg, David Stollery is still around and doing well. Like Sammy, David ended up moving on from the entertainment industry. However, unlike his former on-screen twin, David ended up getting into industrial designing instead of ministering. Once again, the two former child stars appeared at a 2007 event honoring Lucille.
Lucie Arnaz was the second child of Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz, after Desi Jr. Lucie Arnaz never appeared on I Love Lucy proper. However, she did appear as the host of the show’s lost pilot when it premiered in 1990. Because of this, Lucie is often considered a surviving cast member. Following I Love Lucy, Lucie would go on to appear alongside both her mother and brother in Here’s Lucy.
Bart Braverman is a former child performer who played a shoeshine boy in the I Love Lucy episode “Lucy Gets Homesick in Italy”. Following his stint on I Love Lucy, Bart became better known for portraying the character of Binzer on the 1970s series Vega$. His very first appearance on the screen came in 1955, when he was cast in the film Cell 2455, Death Row. The film featured a lot of other performer who would also end up on I Love Lucy. Like the aforementioned Sammy Ogg, Bart continued to do work with Desilu Productions after appearing on I Love Lucy.
One performer that viewers likely didn’t expect to show up on this list is I Dream of Jeannie’s Barbara Eden. Many people might not realize that Barbara actually made her television debut on I Love Lucy. She appeared in the episode “Country Club Dance”. In the episode, Barbara’s character is meant to be a very attractive distraction for the show’s male characters. In order to make sure that Barbara looked her best, Lucille took it upon herself to bedazzle her dress. This impressed Barbara a good deal, as she had never seen an actress go so far out of her way to make sure that her fellow performer upstaged her.
Desi Arnaz Jr.
Finally, let’s take a look at Desi Arnaz Jr. Unlike his sister, Desi Jr. actually did appear on I Love Lucy proper. However, he only appeared on the show’s very final episode. He would go on to play a much bigger role alongside his mom and sister on Here’s Lucy.
Not many I Love Lucy cast members are still around, but the ones that are have fond memories of both the show and it’s two leads! Now it’s time to hear from you: did you know that I Love Lucy utilized multiple different child performers to play the character of Ricky Jr., and that many former child performers that appeared on the show are still around today? Comment down below!