With his distinguished receding gray hairline, no one would recognize Keith Thibodeaux as the black-haired tyke who played the role of Little Ricky on the old I Love Lucy sitcom from the 1950s.
But although just 6 years old when he captured the coveted role of the son of America’s sweethearts, Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz, his memories are vivid. Keith wrote his autobiogaphy, "Life After Lucy" which was published in 1994.
"This is my story about how I started playing the drums at age 2 and turned professional at 3 1/2. By 4 1/2 I joined the Horace Heidt Band, who was a big band leader and actually had a show on television the year before "I Love Lucy."
"Art Carney and Gordon McCray made their debuts on that show. I toured for a year and half with the band and when we were on hiatus in California - my mother, brother and sister had moved to L.A. - we heard there were auditions for I Love Lucy and I auditioned for the part of Little Ricky. I got the part and expanded it and was on the show the last four years it was on the air. Lucy and Desi got a divorce and the show ended."
Thibodeaux went on to play the role of Johnny Paul Jason, best friend to Ron Howard's character , Opie Taylor, on "The Andy Griffith Show. "He then became a drummer for the contemporary Christian band, "David and the Giants."
"The book chronicles my own father and mother's divorce, our move back to Louisiana, and back to high school where I got into rock music and drugs," said Thibodeaux. "As I became part of the drug culture, I went further and further down into clinical depression. My story is how I got free of that in finding Jesus Christ. I was born again when I was 24 years old and met my wife, a famous ballerina."
Thibodeaux is married to Kathy Thibodeaux, the founder of Ballet Magnificat! The couple has a 26-year-old daughter, Tara Drew.
Over the years, Thibodeaux stayed in contact with Desi Arnaz Jr. and Luci Arnaz, the real son and daughter of the famous couple, but he said the relationship has become more distant in recent years because he is on tour for 10 months out of the year.