LOS ANGELES (AP) – Paula Deen didn't post a 2011 Halloween costume photo on her Twitter account showing her son Bobby in dark makeup as "I Love Lucy" character Ricky Ricardo, and the social media manager responsible for it was fired, Deen's spokesman said.
The photo from a holiday episode of one of the celebrity cook's former Food Network shows, with a tweet mimicking Arnaz's accented English on the show, was quickly removed Tuesday from Twitter after it drew a flurry of comments about Bobby Deen's dark-skinned depiction of the character played by Desi Arnaz, Lucille Ball's TV and real-life husband.
The late Arnaz was a Cuban-born Hispanic.
"Paula immediately had this picture taken down as soon as she saw the post and apologizes to all who were offended," according to a statement from spokesman Jaret Keller. He declined to identify the fired social media manager.
Deen's 2013 acknowledgment that she'd used a racial slur in the past ended her relationship with the Food Network and toppled her cooking empire.
Posted responses to the Twitter photo included those who decried Bobby Deen's makeup as akin to the demeaning "blackface" depictions of African-Americans.
The photo, which included Paula Deen, 68, mugging as the red-headed Ball, was from an episode of "Paula's Best Dishes," among the several Food Network shows that had starred the Southern cook.
Deen's admission of using a racial epithet came during a legal dispute with an ex-employee who accused her of racial discrimination and sexual harassment. Deen later said she'd learned "the power of words, how they have the ability to hurt and once you say certain words you can't un-ring it, not even 30 years later."
She has been in business and image rebuilding mode since getting a private investment in 2014 of between $75 million to $100 million. She launched a website, the Paula Deen Network, and opened a restaurant that seats nearly 300 diners in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee.