Richard Keith (Keith Thibodeaux)

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Keith Thibodeaux
Born (1950-12-01) December 1, 1950 (age 64)
Lafayette, Louisiana, U.S.
Other names Richard Keith
Occupation Actor, musician
Years active 1956–present
Spouse(s) Kathy Denton (1976–present)
Children 1
For the football player, see Keith Thibodeaux (American football); for Richie Aprile, Jr., see Richie Aprile.

Keith Thibodeaux (born December 1, 1950) is a former child actor and musician, best known for playing "Little Ricky" in the I Love Lucy and The Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour television shows. He is the last living regular appearing cast member from I Love Lucy.


From left: Thibodeaux, Dinah Shore, Desi Arnaz, Jr. and Desi Arnaz, Sr., 1960.

He is credited for those series as Richard Keith. His last name is Cajun French and was changed by Desi Arnaz for the show since "Thibodeaux" was thought to be somewhat difficult to pronounce for the average American viewer (although viewers were never required to pronounce the credits).

As a child, Thibodeaux also made numerous appearances on The Andy Griffith Show, between 1962 and 1966, as Opie's friend "Johnny Paul Jason". He also accepted small roles on other popular television shows.

Thibodeaux is also a musician who showed skill on the drums at a young age. Thibodeaux was making $500 a week at the age of 3, touring with the Horace Heidt Orchestra, when he was "discovered" by Desi Arnaz and Lucille Ball, who hired him for the role of "Little Ricky" on the I Love Lucy show because he looked so much like Desi. He frequently played the drums on the show.

In 1969, Thibodeaux joined the rock group David and the Giants who were based in Laurel, MS. The group primarily toured throughout the South and enjoyed a few regional hits which were recorded in Muscle Shoals, AL. and were well known in the Northern Soul music scene in England. Keith after turning 21, received the final payment of $8000 in 1971 according to his autobiography "Life After Lucy" from a trust fund set up during his days on I Love Lucy. He spent half of that payment on a sports car and the rest on sound equipment for the band and clothes, drugs,and whatever he wanted. He went through the whole $8000 in about 2 weeks according to his autobiography Life After Lucy.

Thibodeaux had developed a drug problem and left the band, which broke up. His difficulties led to his becoming a born-again Christian in 1974. He witnessed to the leader of the band David Huff and the other members which later converted and the group got back together.[1] The band released nearly ten albums in the 1980s and 1990s for CBS Priority Records (Epic Records), The Benson Company, Myrrh Records, and the band's own label Giant Records.

In 1990, he became the Executive Director for his wife’s company, Ballet Magnificat!

Thibodeaux's role in I Love Lucy is featured in the Lucille Ball-Desi Arnaz Center in Jamestown, New York.

Personal life[edit]

Raised as a Roman Catholic, Thibodeaux went to school at St. Victor's elementary in West Hollywood and St. Jane Frances de Chantel in North Hollywood. He attended Notre Dame High in Sherman Oaks for two years before his parents separated in 1966.

Keith, his mother, and siblings moved back to Lafayette, Louisiana. He graduated from Lafayette High School where he continued to play drums in rock and rhythm and blues bands. He left Louisiana for Mississippi in late 1969 after going to college for a short period where he said he "majored in drinking beer and playing pool" to pursue a career with the band David and the Giants.

In 1976, he met and married a ballet dancer named Kathy Denton in Jackson, MS. The couple moved to Southern California in 1977 where he was asked to join the pop band Starbuck famous for the late 70s hit "Moonlight Feels Right".

After 2 weeks of rehearsals in Atlanta, Thibodeaux returned to Mississippi in 1978, where he, his wife and daughter Tara (born 1979) eventually settled in Jackson, Mississippi. Thibodeaux played with jazz bands locally for a brief time before joining a newly revamped Christian David and the Giants.

His wife Kathy, Founder and Artistic Director of Ballet Magnificat! was a former principal dancer of Ballet Mississippi who won a Silver Medal in the Senior Division of the 1982 II USA International Ballet Competition.

Tara their daughter, also a dancer and choreographer, was a semi-finalist at the age of 15 in the V USA International Ballet Competition held in 1994 and later in 2001 and 2002 was an Atlanta Hawks cheerleader.

She married Bryce Drew in 2004 who is famous for "The Shot" in the 1998 NCAA Sweet Sixteen Tournament. Drew was a 1st round draft pick in the NBA and played professionally for 6 seasons for the Chicago Bulls, Houston Rockets, and Charlotte Hornets.

Thibodeaux's autobiography "Life After Lucy" was published in 1994.


  • Bernard, Shane (2003). The Cajuns: Americanization of a People. University Press of Mississippi. ISBN 1-57806-523-2. 

External links[edit]