‘I Love Lucy’: The Character of Little Ricky Caused an ‘Identity Problem’ for Desi Arnaz Jr.

by Jeremy Spirogis
Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz with their children Desi Jr. and Lucie

When I Love Lucy featured the arrival of a child boy to Lucy and Ricky Ricardo, scores skyrocketed. While the present’s stars Lucille Ball and her husband Desi Arnaz portrayed the doting dad and mom onscreen to the brand new character of Little Ricky, they’d their very own two youngsters at residence – Lucie and Desi Jr.

With artwork usually imitating life, Ball really delivered Desi Jr. on the identical day their landmark episode of Little Ricky’s arrival aired. Ball and Arnaz’s son revealed he usually felt within the shadow of the couple’s TV youngster. 

Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz with their children Desi Jr. and Lucie
Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz with their youngsters Desi Jr. and Lucie | Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Little Ricky’s arrival makes for large scores on ‘I Love Lucy’

According to Ranker, the 1950s sitcom was near cancellation when Ball found she was pregnant. Due to I Love Lucy’s sturdy reputation, the community determined to write down her child information into the storyline.

The being pregnant plot turned such successful, they featured a number of episodes on the Ricardos’ upcoming arrival. I Love Lucy achieved scores gold with “Lucy Goes to the Hospital” on January 19, 1953. Forty-four million viewers tuned in to see the couple welcome Little Ricky, outranking President Dwight Eisenhower’s inauguration the next day, based on Vulture,

Ball was really seven months pregnant with Desi Jr. when she filmed the long-lasting episode. Turns out he was born on the identical day “Lucy Goes to the Hospital” aired.

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Keith Thibodeaux lands the position of Little Ricky

Actor Keith Thibodeaux auditioned for the position of Little Ricky in 1955. He recalled assembly the notorious redhead and her bandleader husband.

“I walked on the set and there was Lucy,” Thibodeaux informed ABC News of Ball. “She said ‘OK he’s cute, but what does he do?’ My dad said, ‘Well he plays the drums.’ … Eventually Desi Arnaz himself came over and started jamming with me on the drums … Then he kind of stood up and said ‘Well, I think we found Little Ricky.’”

In the e book Desilu: The Story of Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz by authors Coyne Steven Sanders and Tom Gilbert, Arnaz described a friendship that developed between Thibodeaux and Desi Jr.

“Richard was almost 2 years older than Desi Jr. but didn’t look it,” the I Love Lucy star mentioned. “One of the reasons Desi Jr. got interested in music and playing the drums was that he wanted to do everything Little Ricky did in the show. … They grew up together.”

Desi Arnaz, Jr. felt overshadowed by Little Ricky character

Thibodeaux revealed he turned one of many few buddies that Desi Jr. had rising up, and generally felt pressured into their friendship.

“My dad worked at Desilu [Studios], so Lucy was his boss,” Thibodeaux mentioned in Sanders’ and Gilbert’s e book. “She would call and say, ‘I want Keith to come over and play with Desi Jr. this weekend.’ Sometimes I’d cry, but my dad worked for Lucy, so that was that. Even so, there was a time when I was basically Desi Jr.’s only genuine friend. Or at least one of the very few.”

Desi Jr. struggled with seeing his dad and mom on tv referring to another person as their “son.” He admitted it triggered him some emotional turmoil throughout his childhood.

“I can still remember watching the show when I was about three and wondering who was the baby with Mommy and Daddy,” Desi Jr. informed Sanders and Gilbert. “When my parents said it was me, I was confused, because I knew it wasn’t.”

Keith Thibodeaux and Desi Arnaz, Jr.Keith Thibodeaux and Desi Arnaz, Jr.
Keith Thibodeaux and Desi Arnaz, Jr. | CBS through Getty Images

RELATED: ‘I Love Lucy’: Lucille Ball Blamed Desi Arnaz’s Infidelity and Drinking for Their Divorce – He Blamed Something Else

Desi Jr. felt compelled to outshine Thibodeaux to the very best of his talents. He developed a rising resentment for the I Love Lucy character.

“I had this identification downside, and it wasn’t helped by individuals calling me Little Ricky, a reputation I realized to despise. I bear in mind wanting relatively desperately to be higher at one thing – something – than the boy who performed Little Ricky. For some time, it appeared as if every little thing in my life was linked to Little Ricky’s.”

After I Love Lucy ended its six-season run in 1957, Thibodeaux continued enjoying the position of Little Ricky in The Desi-Lucy Comedy Hour for 3 seasons.

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