from "I Love Lucy"
Even a Child Star from
TV's Golden Age Couldn't Avoid a Downfall
Keith Thibodaux with Lucy, Desi, Fred & Ethel
Rudder, The 700 Club
was about four and a half years old at the time and my
dad said, 'Keith this is really important. This is a
really big show in Hollywood.' I knew from my father's
explanation of it that it was something big."
It was big. The year
was 1956 and little Keith Thibodaux from
Lafayette, Louisiana, was auditioning for one of the
most popular TV series in the world: I Love Lucy.
"Lucy comes up and says,
'Well, he's cute. But what does he do?' And my dad says,
'Well, he's a drummer.' And she says, 'Oh, come on.' So
they happened to have a set of drums on the set. So she
said, 'There's some drums. Let's see what he does.' And
Sheldon Leonard, who was the producer at DesiLu
Studios, came over and was watching me play. And finally
Desi Arnaz came over and started jamming with me
on the set, and he stood up and laughed and said, 'I
think we found Little Ricky.'"
For the next four years, Keith
played the part of little Ricky Ricardo on I
Love Lucy. He later landed a role on the Andy
Griffith show as Opie's friend Johnny
Paul. By then, his family had moved to Hollywood and
life was great. Keith sensed that there was a higher
power working in his life.
"I began to ask my dad,
did God pick me to do this? He could've picked any
little boy to play the part of Little Ricky. My dad
said, 'Well, God's got a purpose for you, Keith.' And
that always stuck in my mind, that' even way back then, I
felt like God had His eyes on me."
- Keith's life was torn
apart. "My dad was unfaithful to my mother. My whole
life came crashing down when that happened. I thought
our family was one unit and all of a sudden, it was not.
And the dad that I thought I had was not the dad that he
Keith needed someone or
something to blame for the breakup of his family. "I was
mad at my father, and was very, very mad at everything,
and the world in general, and show business was part of
the problem. I felt like, if I hadn't gotten the part on
"I Love Lucy," we would still be in Louisiana,
and our family would still be together But God was the
one that I really shook my fist at."
During his teen years, Keith
dove head first into the Hollywood party scene. "My
friends began to do drugs, and so I began to just get in
with them and do that. I wanted to be cool."
He also became fascinated with
the occult. "I knew there was a supernatural world. And
I began to dabble in Ouija boards and reading books
about warlocks, and just fantasizing about those kinds
of things. And my life, from that point on, really began
to take a downward spiral."
That fascination opened Keith up to other influences.
"I began to be
tormented by these voices. These were demonic voices
that were telling me to kill myself and 'nobody likes
you', and 'you are just a nobody.'"
Keith stood at the edge of
suicide on several occasions, but he kept remembering
what his father had told him years earlier-that God had
a purpose for his life. "Finally, I cried out to God and
I said, 'If You're real, if You take me out of this mess
that I made of my life, then I'll serve You."
Shortly after that, Keith's mother
invited him to church. "I prayed and I fell into a trance, or a
vision - I don't know of any other word to explain it. There was this
light in the distance that got closer and closer to me. As it got
closer to me, I could see that there was a man, and that person
revealed himself as Jesus of Nazareth. And I said, 'Jesus, I'm not
worthy of You to appear to me in such a way.' And I said, 'what
about this sin?' and 'what about that sin?' Jesus responded to me
and He said, 'that's why I died.'
Keith Thibodaux with his wife, Kathy
I came up out of the vision, and I had a
whole new perspective of who God was, and who Jesus Christ was, and
what that meant to me, and what He did for me on the cross - dying on
the cross, and taking my sins, and feeling my sins."
At the end of the service, he went forward
to accept Jesus. Keith got off the drugs and started looking to God
for answers. "The more of the Word of God that I put in me, the less
I heard of those voices, and the more I began to hold on to the
truth of Jesus."
in 1969, Keith joined the secular band,
David and the Giants as a drummer with David, Clay and Ray
Huff. In the early 1970s, the band performed in concert with
Styx, Black Oak Arkansas, Cheech and Chong, and Chuck Berry.
Right away he shared his
faith. "I began to continually talk to them about Jesus, and drive
them crazy about it, I'm sure, in some aspects. But one night, David
finally heard me, and he came to the Lord, and the other guys in the
band, his brothers, also began to believe in Jesus. So in 1977, we
became a Christian band."
David & The Giants had formed their own independent label, Giant
Records. Albums included Strangers In The Night (1988),
R U Gonna Stand Up (1989), Distant Journey (1990)-Dove Award Nominated as
"Rock Album of the Year," Long
Time Coming (1992), Giant Hits (1993), Angels Unaware (1995) and Dream (1996), followed.
The group created some of the classic Christian radio hits of the era
that will remain in our hearts forever such as Here's My Heart,
Show Them The Light, Noah, Always On My Mind, Why, Heavenly
Love, One Less Stone, His Love Lifted Me Up, Hosanna,
Everlasting Praise, Perfect Love, Restless, Count On Me,
Can't Live Without You, Dream On, I'm Still Rockin', Stumbling
Block To A Stepping Stone, I'll Be Loving You, I Was Made For
You, Love Has A Place, Almost Midnight, Highway To Heaven and
Keith also married. He and his wife Kathy,
a dancer founded Ballet Magnificat, a popular touring
Christian ballet company. Keith says now he sees it was God's
purpose and plan for him to use his creative talents to share the
love of Jesus.
Keith left the band in 1989 and the group disbanded in 1997. But
David moved to Athens, GA to form Huff Studios. The band reuinited
with Keith in 2007 for a church concert in Monroe, Georgia. They
recorded a new CD at David's studio in 2013 and continue to perform.
A live concert album and video was filmed and recorded in St. Louis,
Missouri, in August 2017 celebrating 40 years of David and the
"God has used dance, he's used Ballet Magnificat, He's used David and the Giants, to change people's
lives, and to encourage people, and to convict people, not through
what we do, but through what the Holy Spirit does through us. It's
all about Jesus. It's all about Him."
(from The 700 Club)
video of Keith singing and playing drums with Desi Arnaz and Maurice
Chevalier on "I Love Lucy."