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Here's what happened to the twins who played Little Ricky on 'I Love Lucy'

No, Desi Arnaz, Jr., didn't play Little Ricky on 'I Love Lucy.'

Image: (left) Everett Collection, (right) Janet Monti / Messenger Inbox

Most of us know Little Ricky on I Love Lucy as Keith Thibodeaux, the child actor who played Lucy and Ricky's son for 23 episodes during the series' sixth and seventh seasons.

But as we all know, Little Ricky was born in season two, with the episode outdrawing the inauguration of Dwight D. Eisenhower and setting records that would last decades.

So what did Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz do for three and a half seasons before Thibodeaux joined the cast? They hired a pair of twins to switch off and portray their fictional son.

Joe and Mike Mayer were never credited for the role, but they were a central part of the series for three seasons.

According to the Idaho Press-Tribune, the Mayer twins grew up in Southern California around the time child labor laws were tightening. Stricter laws meant younger twins became a hot commodity, primarily for the fact that they could be switched out. 

Mike remembers a scene from the season five episode "Lucy and John Wayne." In the episode, Lucy steals the Western star's footprint impressions from Grauman's Chinese Theater and accidentally breaks it in the process.

Desi convinces Wayne to make a new set, but the two of them end up finding Little Ricky playing in the wet cement before it can happen. In reality, Mike was playing in a giant pile of oatmeal.

In the season five episode "Bon Voyage," Lucy misses the departure of a cruise ship so she's flown in on a helicopter. The whole cast got to go up for a ride in between filming except the young twins. Mike remembers being upset about that.

Today, Joe and Mike Mayer live in Gem County, Idaho, far away from the bright lights of Hollywood.

The Mayer's parents decided it was best for the twins to quit show business early, saving them from having to find special tutors and other commodities as they grew older. 

Mike eventually came to work as a high school teacher, while Joe worked in print services. 

The twins are both retired now, but hopefully they're making more than the $150 a week they did while on I Love Lucy.

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