‘I Love Lucy’ Child Star Recalls What Lucille Ball And Desi Arnaz Were Really Like On Set
Keith Thibodeaux ,who played Little Ricky, describes what it was like to work with Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz on the set of "I Love Lucy".
It’s been over 60 years since the beloved sitcom “I Love Lucy” went off the air, but actor Keith Thibodeaux, who portrayed Little Ricky on the program, has never forgotten what it was like to work with two American favorites: Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz.
— Country Living (@CountryLiving) October 16, 2015
Keith Thibodeaux Discusses Working With Lucille Ball On “I Love Lucy”
As you can see in the tweet below, Little Ricky is not so little anymore.
— New York Post (@nypost) December 16, 2019
Keith Thibodeaux is all grown up and recounting his time on the iconic sitcom.
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The 69-year-old former child actor opened up to Fox News this week about what it was really like growing up while working alongside beloved stars Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz.
One thing that he said he has never forgotten about Ball is the amount of professionalism she brought to the set. This made her a stark contrast from the character that she played on the show.
“She was very professional, very unlike her zany, kooky character that she played on the show,” he said. “When she was on the set, she expected everyone to do their jobs, to know their lines. She was a very no-nonsense kind of person. That seemed to be the description for her.”
“But I think the thing that surprised me the most about her was her passion for what she did. And also just off the set, she was very interested in a lot of things and history,” Thibodeaux added. “I think she was a romantic in that way. As far as Desi goes, she loved him very much.”
Keith Thibodeaux’s Bond With Desi Arnaz
The dazzling Lucille Ball isn’t the only one to leave a lasting impression on her young costar.
Thibodeaux had a special bond with father figure Desi Arnaz that still sticks with him all these years later.
“Desi and I really hit it off,” he said. “I’m from South Louisiana, French Cajun heritage. And I have this weird last name. In fact, he gave me another name, Richard Keith, for the show. Because he didn’t think that anybody could pronounce ‘Thibodeaux,’ which they couldn’t at that point. I think the Cuban culture and the Southern Louisiana Cajun culture has similarities in terms of family and culture. So not only did we connect rhythmically but on a personal level too.”
“I think our roots really connected us and I really felt that on set. And Desi kept me grounded in a strange way,” Thibodeaux added. “He was more down to earth. Lucy was more of a Hollywood star. Desi was more than just a Latin guy with a funny accent [who] barely spoke English. He was amazingly talented who did a lot of hard work behind the scenes, too. It was easy to bond with him.”
Let yourself be transported back to happier times as you watch not so Little Ricky recall his time on set with Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz in the video below.
A Tribute To Lucille Ball
Thibodeaux, who is now the executive director of Ballet Magnificat! in Mississippi, doubled down on his praise for Ball later in the interview, when he paid touching tribute to her.
“She was just an amazing person. She was an actress,” he said. “She had a lot of history and was very professional. [But] she was also passionate about what she did. And she loved show business. She loved the limelight. She loved the audience and she loved the dynamic of that live experience.”
“She wanted to continue that in her later life and she went through different experiences in different shows,” Thibodeaux added. “I think her last series that she did, “Life with Lucy,” kind of bombed. She didn’t need to do it, you know. But I think that was just a part of her passion to get out and do what she knew to do and what she always loved to do, which was show business.”
I, for one, was a huge fan of “I Love Lucy!” Hollywood simply doesn’t make sitcoms like that any more.
So it’s wonderful to hear that Lucille Ball and Desi Arnez were just as incredible off-screen as they were on their show!