Lucille Ball’s children both had a lot to live up to being the offspring of two superstars. Despite him being portrayed on I Love Lucy as “Little Ricky,” Desi Jr. came to hate being called that and there’s a good reason for it.
Ball’s children Lucie and Desi Arnaz Jr. were stars before they were even born, especially Desi Jr. Lucille became pregnant while filming I Love Lucy’s third season. At the time, pregnant women weren’t allowed to openly display their pregnancy. However, Ball managed to make it part of the storyline and the world followed the whole process, Daily Mail reports. “Little Ricky” became a part of the show, but Desi Jr. didn’t play him, so he came to hate people calling him that.
Understandably, growing up and seeing his parents with another child and calling him their son confused him. “I can still remember watching the show when I was about three and wondering who was the baby with mommy and daddy,” Desi Jr. stated.
It’s no surprise then that people calling him “Little Ricky” upset him even more. “When my parents said it was me, I was confused, because I knew it wasn’t. I had this identity problem, and it wasn’t helped by people calling me Little Ricky, a name I learned to despise.”
Constantly being compared to the fictional character took a toll on Desi Jr. He remembered: “wanting rather desperately to be better at something – anything – than the boy who played Little Ricky.”
It’s easy to look at Desi Jr. and Lucie Arnaz and say they had it easy, but they had huge shoes to fill.
Desi Arnaz Said Desi Jr. Was His ‘Best Friend’
Desi Arnaz Jr. may have had some troubles in his childhood, but he had a multitude of good as well. For one, he had a great relationship with his father as an adult, with Desi Arnaz Sr. calling his son his “best friend.”
The Historic Films Archive sports a number of old interviews with movie stars from decades ago. One featured Desi Arnaz Sr. and he happened to mention his relationship with his son. Desi Arnaz spoke of an upcoming project and the prospect of his son joining him when he discussed how close they were.
“If he’s not working on a picture or something he can come down with me. He’s a good drummer … he’s a good-looking son of a gun and my best friend,” Arnaz told the interviewer.
The drummer comment refers to Desi Jr. drumming for the band Dino, Desi, & Billy. The band featured Dean Paul Martin, Bill Hinsche, and naturally, Arnaz Jr. Though they didn’t act together frequently, Arnaz Jr. did portray his father in a handful of instances, such as Saturday Night Live.