"Little Ricky" is all grown up and living in Mississippi - KAIT Jonesboro, AR - Region 8 News, weather, sports

"Little Ricky" is all grown up and living in Mississippi

Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

A slice of sitcom history in the Magnolia State. The only living cast member of the I Love Lucy show calls Mississippi home.

Keith Thibodeaux was too young to understand what acting really meant when he auditioned. But those few years as the Ricardo's son, gave him a spot in TV history. So we wanted to know, where is he now?

Nearly sixty years later, "Little Ricky" is all grown up. Keith Thibodeaux has taken a bow out of the spotlight for the most part. He's lived in Jackson, Mississippi, for years and works with his wife at their ballet company. 

Thibodeaux agreed to give us a trip down memory lane and his role in the iconic series. His rhythm put him on the map at a young age. It's what eventually landed him the role of Ricky Ricardo, Jr.

"So when I got on the set, Lucy looked at me and said, well he's cute but what does he do?" reminisced Thibodeaux. "And my dad says, 'well he plays the drums'. And she says oh come on, you know. Desi finally came over and he started jamming with me on the drums. He stands up and says, 'I think we found little Ricky'."

There's only a few small reminders of the show around Thibodeaux's office at Ballet Magnificat. A photo of him dressed in a Superman costume peering up at the original Superman, George Reeves. Reeves appeared on an episode for Little Ricky's birthday party.

"He was an amazing guy," Thibodeaux said. "When I shook hands with him, I said man he really is super!"

For all the laughs the show provided viewers, Thibodeaux found himself in a very adult world.

"For a kid, it was a little lonely, if I can say that," he noted. "I had a teacher/tutor who would tutor me on the set for three hours every day. Between those times, I would shoot my scenes. But there were no other kids on the set."

He was close friends with the Arnaz family both on and off set.

"I could look back at it and say that it was sad," admitted Thibodeaux. "With all that going on, they were not very happy people."

He says it's a testament to the acting to see how they could go from professional couple, to fighting at home.

"Their two lives were always amazingly put together but also they couldn't live together," he explained.

Thibodeaux remembers Lucy taking care of him on set, even buying him birthday presents. His first love of playing the drums helped him find moments of happiness during those years. But when Lucy and Desi split, he was unemployed at the age of nine.

He eventually got a role on the Andy Griffith Show and others later. The drum sticks kept rolling as he joined Laurel based band, David and the Giants, in the early 70's. He left the group after becoming a Christian.

Unlike stars of today, the paparazzi wasn't following his every step as he moved into life after Lucy.

"We all need a savior," said Thibodeaux. "I needed a savior from being a child star and just the fallout from that, drugs and all the things that I got into. I could've gone the way of all the child stars. But God had mercy on me."

The band reformed as a Christian group. While they still record, Thibodeaux's full-time job is executive director at Ballet Magnificat in North Jackson. They have professional touring companies that perform nationally and internationally. He travels with them, helps schedule performances and oversees other operations around the studio. It's a role he never imagined. But he and his wife have fostered it into a worldwide ministry. 

Thibodeaux learned young that there's more behind the glitz and glamour.

"Hollywood life is just a sham," he said. "It's a facade. It's a fleeting dream of greatness that people get and have and it's just temporary."

If you check the credits of the show, you actually won't find Keith Thibodeaux. He was credited on the show as Richard Keith because Desi Arnaz thought Thibodeaux was too difficult for people to pronounce.

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