Along with those of other child actors, the adult experiences of little "Danny Partridge" (one of six in a family who toured successfully in a very cool Mondrian inspired bus), little "Kevin McCallister" (who was, more than once, left home alone), and little "Hallie Parker/Annie James" (who once trapped her own parents) have all been chronicled ad nauseam in the media. In each of these cases, it seems as if little children were thrust into instant stardom, the legacy of which they were ill-prepared to deal with in later years.
I suppose that is why a recent article in the news so caught my attention. It was the story of whatever became of “Little Ricky Ricardo”. Fans of the I Love Lucy show, such as my wife (who has virtually every single line of every single episode of the ground-breaking sit-com memorized) remember with great affection the little drum playing reproduction of his television father, “Ricky Ricardo” (played by Lucille Ball’s real life husband, Desi Arnaz).
The news story went on to answer the question of whatever became of “Little Ricky”, or rather, of Keith Thibodeaux, the real life actor who portrayed him so endearingly. It turns out that, unlike so many child actors, whose lives seemed to have taken them down sad and/or miserable paths, such is not the case for Thibodaux.
According to the article, and his web site, he went on to various acting stints on television, including The Andy Griffith Show, Route 66, The Shirley Temple Playhouse, Hazel, and many more. Later on, while he was a student at the University of Louisiana in Lafayette, he joined and recorded with what was then a mainstream rock band titled "David and the Giants."
He soon went through a dark time – one that eventually led him into a life of rebellion, drug abuse, and eventually, even clinical depression. “David and the Giants” also disbanded. By this time, and by own testimony, Keith knew he desperately needed help.
And then he had a life-changing experience. He underwent a conversion to Christianity. Thereafter, he got together with other “David and the Giants” band members who had also received Jesus Christ and began playing anew as a Contemporary Christian Music band. According to his web site,
“As a drummer, singer, and songwriter for the Dove nominated ‘David and the Giants,’ Keith toured extensively for 10 years in the United States, Canada, Jamaica, and England, recording 9 albums before leaving the group in 1989 to pursue other interests. He has been featured in such publications as Newsweek, People, Saturday Evening Post, Modern Drummer, CCM, and Classic Drummer Magazine. He has also been a guest on NBC's The Today Show, Entertainment Tonight, CBS's Good Morning America and The O'Reilly Show. In January of 1991, he joined his wife Kathy on the road with Ballet Magnificat! and in 1993, Keith became Executive Director. In addition to his current responsibilities at Ballet Magnificat!, Keith still finds time for the drums and recording.”
Along the way, he even found time to author a book titled Life After Lucy, in which he recounts his experiences as “Little Ricky” on the I Love Lucy show. More importantly, he shares his all-important subsequent encounter with Jesus Christ as his personal Lord and Savior.
While I have yet to read this book, I have now ordered myself a copy; and I certainly look to reading the story of his life.
As I do, I praise God for the fact that not every child actor, whose life started out with such promise, has ended up as a tale of woes! At least one such actor came to know the One who said (John 10:10), “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”
And by Keith Thibodaux's testimony, that has made all the difference for him. I too share that testimony; and I wish for so many others, including you, my friend, the very same blessing.
SOURCES: The news story is available on numerous web sites. See, for example, http://www.foxnews.com/junior-reporters/. Thibodeaux's web site is: http://www.balletmagnificat.com/about-us/staff.