Keith Thibodeaux: Resident Actor, Musician and Entrepreneur
"Little Ricky" finds a home in Madison
Wednesday, July 2, 2014 1:00 PM
Before joining his wife as owner of Ballet Magnificat in Jackson, Madison resident Keith Thibodeaux spent his early life pursuing acting roles and music gigs. Keith found fame at an early age starring on the 1950's sitcom I Love Lucy.
Keith Thibodeaux and his wife Kathy pose for a photo in Madison.
"I began playing drums when I was three," said Keith. "I went on to win a talent contest that this national show had brought to Louisiana." He was making $500 a week touring with the Horace Heidt Orchestra when he first auditioned for I Love Lucy. "Desi Arnaz began to play on the drums with me," Keith described his audition. "He laughed, stood up and said, 'I think we found our Little Ricky.'" Keith would go on to earn a semi-regular part on the Andy Griffith Show.
At the age of fifteen, tragedy brought Keith's life screeching to a halt. "My parents separated and eventually divorced. I became very disillusioned with life," he said. "I began to rebel against any notion of God." Moving back to Louisiana, he descended into a pit of drugs and despair.
"I eventually joined a rock band by the name of David and the Giants based in Laurel, Mississippi, but about this time I began to get into a state of depression," said Keith.
After a failed attempt to find comfort in the occult, he cried out to the God that he had once forsaken.
Three years later, his bandmates found faith as well. The newly reformed Christian rock band spent the next decade touring as far away as England. This summer, the group will release a record featuring a handful of studio cuts and a live recording of last year's reunion concert in Pearl.
Kathy Thibodeaux grew up in Jackson and founded Ballet Magnificat, a premier Christian ballet studio, in 1986. Keith felt called to join the company soon after. "For the first time in my life when I decided to put music on the shelf, God began to show me what it was to be a servant," he explained.
Against the advice of many, Kathy danced to a religious song in the 1982 USA International Ballet Competition. "It was an amazing experience for me," she said. "The Lord blessed me with a silver medal."
The rocker and the ballerina were together for three months when they began to consider marriage. They searched the bible for an answer. "My finger landed in the book of Ruth," Kathy recalled. The verse read, "Make me your wife according to God's holy laws."
Nearly 40 years later, the two work together on a daily basis. "We love it," said Kathy. "We get to travel together. I think we've been in over thirty countries over the years." The company traveled to Israel, Italy, Germany and Poland last year.
Keith and Kathy have a daughter named Tara who was a semi-finalist in the 1994 USA International Ballet Competition. Tara married Bryce Drew, the man famous for "The Shot" in the 1998 NCAA Sweet Sixteen Tournament, who was also a first round draft pick in the NBA. "They just had a baby boy, so we're grandparents for the first time," said Keith. "We're really excited."
"Mississippi is home," said Kathy. "We feel like this is where we need to be." Later this year, Ballet Magnificat will partner with the Salvation Army to put on a free Christmas concert. "It's going to be our gift to the community and Salvation Army's gift to Jackson metro," said Keith.