From 1951 to 1957, people across America tuned into CBS at 9:00 PM each Monday night to step into the lives of Lucy and Ricky Ricardo. The couple, along with their zany neighbors, Fred and Ethel Mertz, kept audiences laughing for six seasons.
I Love Lucy was the number one show in the country during four of its six seasons, and when it was cancelled at the end of season six, it remained at the top of the Nielson Ratings, a feat only accomplished by two other shows in the history of television: The Andy Griffith Show and Seinfeld.
It might surprise you to know that I Love Lucy is still extremely popular, today, and episodes are still airing around the world on networks including Me-TV and Hallmark Channel. It is regarded as one of the most influential sitcoms of all time, but what happened to the cast after I Love Lucy wrapped?
To find out more about the fate of the cast of I Love Lucy, click the ‘Start Slideshow’ button, below.
Lucille Ball as Lucy Ricardo
Lucille Ball was the star of the show in her role as Lucy Ricardo. Many would say that Ball was ahead of her time, and she remains an iconic figure in Hollywood. She got her start as a model in New York City after dropping out of drama school because her classmate, Bette Davis, was getting all of the roles. She got her first film role in 1933 in Roman Scandals, as one of the Goldwyn Girls.
In early 1940, Lucille Ball was working on the film Too Many Girls, and she met and fell madly in love with actor Desi Arnaz. The pair were married by November of that same year. After working on a radio show called My Favorite Husband, Lucy was approached by CBS about turning the premise of that radio show into a series for television, and I Love Lucy was born.
Lucille Ball was the first woman to do what? Keep reading to find out!
Though Lucille Ball was a well-known actress when l Love Lucy premiered, this show launched her to super stardom. She and her husband, Desi Arnaz, created a production company, Desilu Productions, which meant she was the first woman in the history of Hollywood to own her own studio. She and Desi had two children, but were divorced in 1960.
Following I Love Lucy, Lucille Ball was a guest star on a number of hit shows, such as Make Room for Daddy, and then starred in several other shows including The Lucy – Desi Comedy Hour, The Lucy Show, Here’s Lucy, and Life With Lucy. During the 1980s, Ball tried to resurrect her career, but a mild heart attack in 1988 put a quick stop to that. She passed away just a year later in 1989 of a dissecting aortic aneurysm at the age of 77.
Before starting his Hollywood career, this actor worked as a bird cage cleaner. Who? Click ‘Next.’
Desi Arnaz as Ricky Ricardo
Desi Arnaz was born as Desiderio Alberto Arnaz y De Acha III in Santiago, Cuba, and he played the role of Ricky Ricardo on I Love Lucy. Arnaz moved to Miami in 1933 after his father, the mayor of Santiago, was jailed after the Revolt of the Sergeants, led by dictator Fulgencio Batista. Arnaz did not speak English, and at 16, got a job cleaning bird cages. The family then moved to the Tampa area, where he enrolled in high school and acclimated to life in the US.
Desi Arnaz started a band and appeared in some Broadway shows in order to support himself, and then moved to Hollywood in 1940. There, of course, he met Lucille Ball, and as you already know, the two quickly married.
Desi’s actions were a main reason he and Lucille Ball divorced. What happened? Read on.
After the success of I Love Lucy, Desi Arnaz went on to star in other shows including The Lucy – Desi Comedy Hour and The Mothers – In – Law. He also began producing other television shows including The Ann Southern Show, The Untouchables, and The Lucy Show.
Personally, Desi Arnaz was not the happily married man that Ricky was on I Love Lucy. Instead, he was a serial womanizer and alcoholic. For these reasons, Lucille Ball decided that it was best for her and her children to leave the marriage. Desi regretted his actions, and claimed throughout the rest of his life that he would always love Lucy. Arnaz was also a heavy smoker of both cigarettes and cigars, and eventually developed lung cancer. He died of the disease in 1986 at the age of 69.
Which actress almost didn’t get the part on I Love Lucy because of her looks? Click ‘Next.’
Vivian Vance as Ethel Mertz
Vivian Vance was born Vivian Jones in Cherryvale, KS, and while in high school, she started studying acting in school plays. Her mother was not content with her daughter wanting to be an actress, thus Vivian rebelled, changed her last name to Vance, and took off for Albuquerque, NM. There, she joined community theater, and eventually made it to Broadway.
Eventually, Vivian Vance made her way to Hollywood, but she was definitely not a star. Instead, she was picking up bit roles in films. It was at this time that Desi Arnaz and Lucille Ball were casting for their new show. Director Marc Daniels, who had worked with Vance on Broadway, kept pushing for her to be cast as the landlady, Ethel Mertz. However, she was almost not cast because Lucy felt that Vance was “too pretty” to be a landlord.
Vivian Vance was the first woman to win a very prestigious award. Which one? Keep reading!
As with Desi Arnaz and Lucille Ball, Vivian Vance shot to superstardom after appearing on I Love Lucy. In 1953, she was the first woman to win the Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress, and was nominated three more times before the show ended. Following her appearance on I Love Lucy, she continued to play Ethel Mertz on The Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour, and then she appeared in The Lucy Show and Here’s Lucy.
In the 1970s, Vivian Vance was well known for her work in a series of commercials for Maxwell House coffee, and she continued to act. Her final television appearance was in the made-for-TV movie, Lucy Calls the President, which aired in 1977. Later that year, she suffered a stroke, which left her with partial paralysis. She was also diagnosed with bone cancer, which ultimately took her life at the age of 70 in 1979.
This next actor was said to be quite similar in personality to his character. Who is it? Click ‘Next.’
William Frawley as Fred Mertz
By the time William Frawley was cast as Fred Mertz, he already had more than 100 films on his resume. He heard about the part and contacted Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz about the role. They thought it would be great to have a film veteran in the show, but CBS execs were cautious: Bill Fawley had a reputation as a cantankerous and unstable actor, not unlike the character of Fred Mertz. He also had a heavy drinking problem.
Ultimately, Arnaz and Ball won out, and Frawley was cast as Fred Mertz, opposite Vivian Vance. Though Fawley and Vance worked well together, they did not like each other, at all. In fact, when I Love Lucy ended, they were offered a spin-off, and didn’t take the offer because they didn’t want to work with each other.
After I Love Lucy, William Frawley appeared on another hit show. Which one? Read on!
When I Love Lucy ended, and Frawley and Vivian Vance gave up their spin-off option, Frawley was looking for work. He soon got on the hit television show, My Three Sons. He played the role of ‘Bub’ O’Casey, and remained on the show until 1965.
In 1966, William Frawley appeared on the game show, I’ve Got a Secret, and then had a guest role on The Lucy Show. He died later that year of a heart attack. He was 79 years old.
One role on I Love Lucy was played by twins. Take a guess, and then click ‘Next.’
Michael and Joseph Mayer as Little Ricky
When Lucille Ball became pregnant with her son, Desi Arnaz, Jr., it was decided that it was a good time to write in a child for Lucy and Ricky. Though the role was played by five different actors over the run of I Love Lucy, twins Michael and Joseph Mayer are the most recognized.
The role of Little Ricky was first played by Ronald and Richard Lee Simmons, but Michael and Joseph Mayer replaced then when they were still infants. The boys remained on I Love Lucy until the fifth season, when they were replaced by Richard Keith.
What happened to the brothers after appearing in I Love Lucy? Keep reading to find out.
The boys returned to a fairly normal life following their time on I Love Lucy. They both graduated from Crescenta Valley High School and went on to get “normal” jobs, including teaching, serving in the church, and Joe now works with computers.
Michael Mayer is a special education teacher living in California. He had previously tried his hand at acting again, appearing in films such as Fraud!, Die Banneling, and Kill and Kill Again.
This next actor also played Little Ricky, but is mostly known for another show. Click ‘Next.’
Richard Keith (Keith Thibodeaux) as Little Ricky
After the Mayer twins left the show, a child actor named Keith Thibodeaux took on the role of Little Ricky. Since Desi Arnaz thought that it would be too difficult for audiences to pronounce the name, Thibodeaux, he billed the young actor as Richard Keith.
Keith Thibodeaux played Little Ricky in the fifth season of I Love Lucy. He went on to continue to play the role in The Lucy – Desi Comedy Hour for all three seasons. One of the main reasons he was hired to play the part was that he looked a lot like Desi Arnaz, and because he was very talented on the drums, even at a young age.
What happened to Keith Thibodeaux after the show? Read on to find out.
Following The Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour, Keith Thibodeaux continued to act, and he appeared on other television shows including The Andy Griffith Show. Eventually, he returned back to his home in Louisiana, went to college and joined a band called “David and the Giants.” The band put out several CDs over the years, but eventually broke up.
Keith Thibodeaux got married, became a born-again Christian, and is the Executive Director of Ballet Magnificant, his wife’s company. He also wrote a book, “Life After Lucy,” which was released in 1994.
This next actor played more than 20 roles on I Love Lucy. Who is it? Find out by clicking ‘Next.’
Bennett Green as Various Roles
Bennett Green was a jack of all trades on I Love Lucy, and he appeared in more than 20 episodes of the classic show. He never had a huge role, but he played parts such as “Messenger,” “Delivery Man,” and “Customer.”
The first part that Bennett Green played was as a stagehand in the episode, “The Audition.” He also was often used during rehearsals as the stand-in for Desi Arnaz.
Bennett Green appeared in some famous films. Keep reading to find out more.
Bennett Green not only appeared on I Love Lucy. He also appeared on The Lucy Show, The Beverly Hillbillies, and Angel.
In addition to his television roles, Green also appeared in several films, including Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, alongside Marilyn Monroe. He was also in the films A Walk in the Sun and Two Tickets to Broadway. Green passed away in 1982 at the age of 77.
Which guest actor appeared on the very first episode of I Love Lucy? Click ‘Next’ to find out.
Jerry Hausner as Jerry
You probably remember Jerry Hausner from I Love Lucy, as he was Ricky’s manager. In fact, Hausner appeared in the very first episode of the series, which is interesting as Vivian Vance and William Frawley didn’t appear until the second episode.
Jerry Hausner appeared in 14 episodes of the show, and only left after he and Desi Arnaz had a falling out. Lucille Ball got involved, and Hausner reportedly remained bitter towards both Desi Arnaz and Lucille Ball for the rest of his life.
Jerry Hausner moved on from the show, and became known for a certain sound. Keep reading to learn more!
After he left I Love Lucy, Jerry Hausner got a lot of work in voice acting, specifically as Waldo in the Mr. Magoo cartoons. In fact, is voice acting made up a huge part of his Hollywood career, and he became extremely well known for his “crying baby” sound.
Jerry Hausner continued to act throughout the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s. In fact, he worked fairly regularly throughout his career, which isn’t very common. He passed away in 1993 due to congestive heart failure at the age of 83.
Which actor from I Love Lucy didn’t make her film debut until the age of 51? Click ‘Next!’
Elizabeth Patterson as Mrs. Matilda Trumbull
You certainly remember Mrs. Trumbull, the elderly neighbor of Lucy and Ricky on I Love Lucy. The part was played by Elizabeth Patterson, who was 77 years old when she first started on the show.
Most of Elizabeth Patterson’s acting experience came from the stage. She got her start in Europe, and then moved to Chicago to work with a troupe of actors, and then eventually made her way to Broadway. She made her debut on the Broadway stage in 1913.
Elizabeth Patterson first played another role on I Love Lucy. Which one? Read on.
When Elizabeth Patterson was first hired to appear on I Love Lucy, she played the role of Mrs. Willoughby. The next year, she appeared as Mrs. Trumbull, who was first a curmudgeon. However, over the course of the series, she became friends with Lucy, Ricky, Fred, and Ethel.
Patterson never married, and lived in a hotel in Hollywood for most of her 35 years in showbiz. She passed away at the age of 91 in 1965.
This actress played a 1950s “frenemy” of Lucy and Ethel on the show. Click ‘Next’ to find out who.
Doris Singleton as Caroline Appleby
I Love Lucy’s Caroline Appleby was one of the original “frenemies,” and the part was played by Doris Singleton. Born and raised in New York City, Singleton was a trained ballerina before getting into radio thanks to her distinct voice.
Doris Singleton met Lucille Ball when Lucy was working on the show, My Favorite Husband, and when Ball needed to cast the role of Caroline Appleby, she knew just whom to call.
Doris Singleton worked with Lucille Ball on other shows, too. Keep reading to learn more.
In addition to appearing with her friend Lucille Ball on I Love Lucy, Doris Singleton also appeared in the shows The Lucy Show and Here’s Lucy. She was also in the made-for-TV movie, Lucy Moves to NBC.
Doris Singleton continued to work in Hollywood throughout the mid 1980s. Her final acting job was in another television movie, Deadly Messages. She retired and lived in the Los Angeles area until her death in 2012 at the age of 92. She was the last surviving member of the adult cast of I Love Lucy.
Which actress was cast in the role as the foil to Lucy’s antics? Click ‘Next’ to find out.
Mary Jane Croft as Betty Ramsey
Another friend of Lucy and Ethel in I Love Lucy was Betty Ramsey. This role was played by Mary Jane Croft. As you probably remember, Lucy and Ricky moved to Connecticut late in the series, and their neighbors were the Ramseys.
Like Doris Singleton, Mary Jane Croft knew Lucille Ball from her days in radio. In fact, Croft was mostly a radio actress. She appeared on Blondie, The Bill Goodwin Show, The Adventures of Sam Spade, and My Favorite Husband.
Before playing Betty Ramsey, Croft played another role on I Love Lucy. Which on? Read on.
Since Mary Jane Croft and Lucille Ball were friendly before she appeared as Betty Ramsey, Croft was seen a couple of other times in I Love Lucy. She played Cynthia Harcourt, Lucy’s rich, snobby friend from school, and then she played an airline passenger who sits next to Lucy when Lucy tried to smuggle a large piece of cheese into the country.
Mary Jane Croft continued to work in television after leaving I Love Lucy, and she appeared with Lucille Ball in Here’s Lucy. She also appeared in the television movie, Lucy Calls the President. She passed away of natural causes in 1999 at the age of 83.
This actress’s first appearance on I Love Lucy was also her first television appearance. Click ‘Next!’
Kathryn Card as Mrs. McGillicuddy
Lucy’s mother, Mrs. McGillicuddy, was played by Kathryn Card in several episodes of I Love Lucy and The Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour.
Kathryn Card got her start in radio, too, like several of the other members of the cast. She mostly worked in radio from the mid 1930s to the early 1940s. She then took on a couple of film roles before getting the part as Mrs. McGillicuddy, which was her first television role.
Kathryn Card was also a part of other famous films and shows. Keep reading to learn more.
In addition to appearing on I Love Lucy, Kathryn Card appeared on a number of other well-known television shows. These include Perry Mason, Make Room for Daddy, Rawhide, and Alfred Hitchcock Presents.
Her final appearance was in the film, The Unsinkable Molly Brown. In 1964, Kathryn Card had a fatal heart attack in her home. She was 71 years old.