Lucille Ball introduced her son to showbiz before he was even six months old.
Oftentimes celebrities and people in general refrain from posting pictures of their child’s face online or in magazines. At the time, this was not a concern for people. So Lucille Ball and her son Desi Arnaz Jr. (who was born on January 19, 1953) graced the cover of a popular magazine together.
Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz Jr. on Magazine
According to TV Guide, the mother-and-son duo was on the cover of TV Guide Magazine on April 3, 1953. It was the very first issue for the publication which had the cover line, “Lucy’s $50,000,000 Baby.”
It wasn’t a bad start for the publication. Desi Arnaz took a meeting with a rep from TV Guide. The baby pictures he brought with him were promised to another publication, but Arnaz got up to go to the bathroom and insinuated he would never notice if a few went missing.
At the time, both Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz were at the peak of their career. “I Love Lucy” had been on for a couple of years and had garnered a massive following. They had also began their production company together, Desilu Productions.
“Because that cover was so widely seen, everyone thought I played Little Ricky, and that’s stuck with me throughout my life. Of course, my parents only added to the misunderstanding by casting a series of infants — there were six in all — who matched the TV Guide photo,” Desi Arnaz Jr. said to TV Guide.
At the time of the show, pregnancy on television was nearly unheard of. Lucille Ball was one of the first women to be publically pregnant while filming. There were certain limitations, however. The show never said the word “pregnant.” In fact, the episode where Ricky finds out the news about having a baby is called “Lucy Is Enceinte,” which is French for “pregnant.”
Both Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz thought the show would be canceled after Ball got pregnant. However, the introduction of Little Ricky brought in millions of viewers. That is, a record 68.8 million to be exact.
Little Ricky on ‘I Love Lucy’
Many viewers thought the baby on-screen was the real-life child of the television couple. It’s no wonder people thought that because both Ball and Arnaz seemed to want people to think that way.
According to Entertainment Weekly, Little Desi’s birth was a scheduled event. They wanted him to be born on the same day that Lucy Ricardo was going to have Little Ricky on the show.
In reality, Arnaz Jr. was kept out of the spotlight until he starred in “Here’s Lucy” as Lucille Ball’s son in the 1968 to 1974 series. Despite the confusion, Arnaz Jr. was BFFs with his parent’s on-screen kid.
“Lucy was naturally very motherly to me and Desi kind of made me feel at ease–that was his role. They were very generous towards me and I was best friends with their children. Whenever I was over there, and Desi would give his kids gifts and he’d never leave me out–whether it was customized bowling balls or L.A. Rams jerseys, he’d give me the same thing,” Keith Thibodeux (who played Little Ricky) said to ABC News.
The kids all had a great relationship off the set. He even had a band with Desi Jr. and Lucie Arnaz called “The Dinah Shore Show.”