‘I Love Lucy’ Little Ricky Actor Keith Thibodeaux Said ‘There Was a Lot Riding’ on His Keeping Lucy and Desi’s Secrets

Even at the young age of 5, I Love LucyLittle Ricky, played by Keith Thibodeaux, was well aware of the tensions between Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz.

The young actor was pressured not to talk about Arnaz’s family secrets. Both it and his father was hired by the company of the star couple, Desilu.

He felt at the time that if he wanted to keep his job safe – and his father too – his silence depended on it.

Ball Lucille and Desi Arnaz
Member Lucille and Desi Arnaz CBS / Getty Photos

Keith Thibodeaux went by name another platform

Keith Thibodeaux was only 5 years old when he was hired by Desi Arnaz. The Cuban actor and musician hired him on the spot after hearing Thibodeaux play the drums at the audition for the role of Ricky and Lucy Ricardo ‘s son, Little Ricky.

The role immediately changed Thibodeaux’s life, as well as his name. His new stage name was Richard Keith.

“That was Desi’s response to people who couldn’t ‘Thibodeaux,'” the actor said. “Who, back then, didn’t live in such an international setting, the world was a little bigger than it is now.”

He explained that Desi Arnaz changed his first name to ‘Richard’ to be more like ‘Ricky,’ the on-screen character.

“He thought that would be good,” he said. “My name was Keith, part of who I really was, and then Richard could be like ‘Ricky.’ ”

Keith Thibodeaux, center, and the rest of the 'I Love Lucy' team
Keith Thibodeaux, center, and the rest of the ‘I Love Lucy’ team Silver Screen / Getty Images Collection

Lucy and Desi introduced Thibodeaux ‘as part of the family’

Once Thibodeaux was hired, he became not only part of the team but, also, of the Arnaz family. He was embroiled in family time with the Arnazes, as he described it The New York Post in 2019.

“There were very few people who trusted Lucy and Desi to play with their children and they were very protective of them,” he said. “Let’s go to Disneyland and of course we would go in front of the line with Lucy and people would look at Lucy and say, ‘Wow, Lucy and Little Ricky are! ‘

Keith Thibodeaux playing the drums
Keith Thibodeaux playing drums | Arnold M. Johnson / Graphic House / Archive Photos / Getty Images

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Thibodeaux had to keep quiet about the ‘mysteries’ of the famous couple

As the young actor was very close to the age of Lucy and Desi’s own two children, Lucie, 4, and Desi Jr., 2, Thibodeaux said he was invited to join the family at home and on tours.

“Lucy and Desi never said anything rude to me,” he said. “They introduced me as part of the family. And I became part of the interior of who they are, and kind of know people about who they are. Edit, keep their secrets and that kind of thing. ”

When asked if he was ever careful not to share these mysteries, Thibodeaux said, “Yes, I was. There were a lot of things riding there. My father’s work and other things. It was like a family thing. It was nothing terrible. ”

Desi Arnaz and Ball Lucille
Desi Arnaz and Ball Lucille CBS Photo Archive / Getty Images
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