Lucie Arnaz Grew Up Thinking Little Ricky Actor Keith Thibodeaux Was a Close Relative: ‘My Mother Kind of Adopted Him’

For I Love Lucy actor Keith Thibodeaux, playing Little Ricky on the classic series meant more than just being part of the team.

It also meant being part of the Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz family.

In fact, the young star was so often with the family, Lucie Arnaz when a child thought he was really part of her family.

Keith Thibodeaux, center, with 'I Love Lucy', 1955
Keith Thibodeaux, center, with ‘I Love Lucy’, 1955 | Silver Screen / Getty Images Collection

Little Ricky became part of the Arnaz family

Once he was on the I Love Lucy cast in 1955, Little Ricky actor Keith Thibodeaux was welcomed into the Arnaz family with open arms. At that time, Thibodeaux was 5 years old and Lucy and Desi’s children were close to age. Their first child was Lucie 4 and Desi Jr. 2, making Thibodeaux a natural new composition for the children of Arnaz.

The professional drummer told the Post NY in 2019 about his life as a young actor on an engaging show while also just being a child.

“I had a kind of shared life, a schizophrenic life,” Thibodeaux said. “I used to go to an ordinary school, a parish school called St. Victor’s south side of Sunset Strip in West Hollywood from grades 1 to 4. I had two lives: my normal life with my friends at school… and life another this when I was on the set. ”

The Arnaz family
The Arnaz family J. Wilds / Keystone / Hulton / Getty Images Archive

Lucie Arnaz thought Thibodeaux was related to her

Actress Little Ricky was in Arnaz’s home so often, at their invitation, that Lucie Arnaz thought he was really related to him.

In a conversation in 2011 with the American Television Archive, Arnaz recalled that Thibodeaux came into her life, especially how many of her friends thought she was her real brother.

‘Everyone’s saying’ Isn’t that your brother? ‘ It was Keith Thibodeaux. He was about three or four years older than Desi Jr. For a long time, I thought Keith was related to us because he was gone everywhere us. Desi was my best friend. Because of Keith, Desi learned to play the drums, ”said Arnaz.

“He was a terrible child. It still is. My mother kind of accepted it in a way. He used to go with us on weekends. Keith is in our home movies and all our pictures are growing up. ”

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

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Thibodeaux sometimes struggled to play with the children of Arnaz

As a young child, said Keith Thibodeaux, he enjoyed his time away from the I Love Lucy set because it allowed him to spend time with his own family and friends.

Many times, however, he told the Post, his father would tell him that he had been invited to play with Desi Jr. While he would eventually enjoy the time together, at those times Thibodeaux said he would get upset.

Keith Thibodeaux and Desi Arnaz Jr.  in 2007
Keith Thibodeaux and Desi Arnaz Jr. in 2007 Kevin Winter / Getty Images

“When my dad said, ‘Lucy or Little Desi want you to come over for the weekend,’ I would always kindly drag my legs and complain and cry, ‘no I want to go! I want to be with my friends, ‘”he said.

To me that was true and [going to their house] that was not real life, but I always enjoyed my time when I arrived. Desi [Jr.] and I was good friends. It was very lonely not to be with my family when I was so young. ”

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