Keith Thibodeaux starred in one of the most popular sitcoms of its time in the 1950s, I Love Lucy, and today, Little Ricky himself is no longer so little. Actually, Keith played one of the Little Rickys—there were others, too. The role of Lucy and Ricky Ricardo’s son was actually played by six different actors; Keith, another child actor, and two sets of twins.
Keith was using the stage name of Richard Keith and played an older version of Little Ricky during the sixth and seventh seasons of the show, and is arguably the best-known actor who played Little Ricky.
Whatever happened to the best-known Little Ricky actor, Keith Thibodeaux?
Keith remembers auditioning for the role, and getting it, in 1955. He was up against 200 other young actors and he managed to land the role after showing producers that he could play the drums. “I walked on the set and there was Lucy, she was standing there and she was looking at me,” he told ABC News back in 2015.
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“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.'”
He suffered depression and suicidal thoughts in the following years
Keith would go on to appear on 23 episodes of I Love Lucy and 13 episodes of the sequel series The Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour. He continued to act after the shows went off the air, even appearing in multiple episodes of The Andy Griffith Show in the 1960s.
He reveals to ABC News that he felt depressed later on and it affected how he viewed I Love Lucy. “I do kind of look at it like a time of my life where I wasn’t able to fully be a kid, but that’s a problem with child stars — that dynamic is always in the mix,” he would go on to explain. “I was very depressed and suicidal and got to the end of my rope and became a Christian in 1974. That kind of changed my perspective on the show. After that, I was able to appreciate the show much more than I did when I was a young adult.”
His involvement with music and dance
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Keith was very involved with music as well, playing in the band called David and the Giants in ’67 before he left to start playing Christian music. Well, David and the Giants soon started playing Christian music as well, which caused Keith to rejoin, but he would soon leave the band again in 1989, and rejoin again in the 2000s. Their most recent album came out in 2019, called What Are You Waiting For?.
He’s also very involved in the dance world these days as his wife, Kathy, is a ballet dancer. Together, the two co-founded Ballet Magnificat!, a Christian dance company based in Jackson, Mississippi. The two have been married since 1976, and they have a daughter, Tara, and a grandson named Bryson.
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So many years later, at 72 years old, he looks back on I Love Lucy very fondly. “It’s held up all these years,” he says. “I just think that to be associated with the show, it’s a good thing. I can say, in a humble way, that I don’t think it’s ever been matched.”