Childhood Memories Friday: Family Affair, Buffy & Jody: Where are they now?

Family Affair TV

Childhood Memories Friday

 

Family Affair: the name evokes memories for many baby boomers … the twinkly theme music, Mr. French, kindly Uncle Bill, charming big sister Cissy, and of course loveable twins Buffy and Jody. What happened to Buffy and Jody after “Family Affair” ended its TV run?

Family Affair

“Family Affair” ran on TV from 1966 until 1971. The show depicted the life of Bill Davis (aka “Uncle Bill”), an apparently quite well-compensated engineer who lived in a swanky New York apartment, complete with a genial butler named Mr. French.

However, Uncle Bill’s life changed drastically when an accident killed his brother, leaving his children orphans. Uncle Bill takes in Cissy and twins Buffy and Jody.

 

What About Buffy?

Buffy was played by Mary Anissa Jones (Anissa means “little friend” in Arabic and rhymes with “Lisa”). She was born in West Lafayette, Indiana, where her parents were students at Purdue University at the time of her birth.

The family moved to California when Anissa was two, and at six she landed her first acting role, in a cereal commercial.

At eight, Anissa was cast as Buffy in the CBS TV show “Family Affair.” The show kept Jones busy; she often was either filming or promoting the show seven days a week. She broke her leg when she was 11, and this was written into “Family Affair”’s story line.

Buffy’s famous cohort on the show was her doll, Mrs. Beasley. As she got older, Jones was anxious to be rid of Mrs. Beasley and her “Family Affair” persona. When she was 13, “Family Affair” ended and Anissa hoped to continue her acting career in films.

 

 

Where is Buffy Now?

Life for Anissa Jones did not have a happy ending. When Anissa was seven, her parents went through an acrimonious divorce, fighting over custody of Anissa and her younger brother, Paul. Custody was award to their father, but he died shortly thereafter and Anissa moved in with friends.

Jones’ behavior worsened and she began shoplifting, eventually dropping out of school. At age 18, she was found dead of a drug overdose in a friend’s house. Although the overdose was classed as “accidental,” the coroner classed it as one of the most severe he had ever seen.

“Buffy” had no funeral. She was cremated, with her ashes scattered over the Pacific Ocean. At her death, she had about $163,000 in cash and bonds from her acting career. I remember hearing about her death, and it made quite an impression as I think she was the first person I heard of who had died from using drugs.

 

What About Jody?

Johnny Whitaker, who played Jody, has fared somewhat better than Buffy. He was born December 13, 1959, the fifth of eight children. “Family Affair” producers loved the chemistry between Johnny and Anissa Jones (Buffy), and rewrote the script so that the twins would be six rather than ten, as originally planned.

Johnny went on to appear in episodes of “Bewitched,” “Marcus Welby MD,” “Gunsmoke,” “Bonanza,” and “Green Acres.”

Following Anissa Jones’ death, Whitaker said, “Although we played twins we were poles apart as human beings. It didn’t keep us from getting along well, but we were being raised in very different homes. I felt terrible about her death, but I wasn’t all that much surprised.”

 

 

Where is Jody Now?

After graduating from high school, Johnny spent two years in Portugal on a mission affiliated with his church, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (mormon). He graduated from Brigham Young University with a degree in communications.

He married theatrical agent Symbria White in 1984; they divorced in 1988. He went through a program to end a drug dependency at that time.

Johnny appeared in an Arby’s commercial in 2005, and later hosted a radio show with psychiatrist Dr. Rod Zodkevitch called “The Dr. Rod and Johnny Show.”

Did you watch Family Affair as a child?

 

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16 thoughts on “Childhood Memories Friday: Family Affair, Buffy & Jody: Where are they now?

  1. This is all interesting to me. I don’t think I watched the program very often. It seems as if it must have been a very family-friendly show. But, on the other hand, neither of the twins’ lives turned out too well. Show business is hard on children. But, it seems to be hard on adults, too.

  2. If anyone would like, I admin a Facebook page called “Anissa Jones Remembrance Society” and you’re free to join in. Johnny Whitaker joined this past August (out of the blue!), as did Kathy Garver after that. There’s not much that goes on, but feel free to join and contribute thoughts, pics, anything, if you’d like.

    I watched “Family Affair a lot when I was very little, until about 5 or 6. I was born shortly before “Who’s Afraid of Nural Shpeni?” aired for the first time. Anissa was my very first crush when I was two and a half; to me, she was the prettiest girl ever. A very long time ago.

  3. RD, thanks for the info — your FB page sounds great. Several people seem to “find” this post and hopefully they’ll head over there. That is so neat that Johnny Whitaker joined the page, and Kathy Garver too — wow! I loved the show as a child as well 🙂

  4. does anyone remember “jody shoes”, a reference to slip-on keds type sneakers?

  5. I LOVED Family Affair as a child. Recently I ordered the first season on DVD and found that I enjoy it just as much today as I did 40 years ago. The show comes across with characters who are warm, loving and really seem to sincerely care about one another. I enjoy the wholesome family entertainment, which is very difficult to find these days.

  6. Yes I watched Family Affair! So Much that Anissa was not the only one who had Mrs Beasley as a constant companion 😛. It was my favorite toy until a delinquent relative wanted to find out what made it talk. I had all of the Family Affairs toys including coloring books and paper dolls. Much like the Barney craze of the 90s! I still miss my Mrs Beasley doll.

  7. Rest in peace little friend! Forty urs today you were taken from us!-! Much much to early my dear little friend! You were very talented and beautuful inside and out! I love what you did for that janitor when you were so so young! My little friend I would of done the same thing! People just don’t get..We are all going throug this journey together! Whether you are or were a big executive or big movie star or a janitor with sounds like a big kind soul and heart! Now who is the rich one! Stop people taking kindness for weakness! Love you always little friend with a very big heart! You will always be truly loved and missed!

  8. Buffy and Jody..and Uncle Bill and Cissy…OMG the memories of “quality wholesome television” … God Bless👼

  9. Buffy and Jody..uncle Uncle Bill and Cissy OMG… the memories of “quality wholesome television” God Bless.👼

  10. I loved this show. Brian Keith to me was so suave and Mr French was so funny! You don’t see these shows anymore. ❤️ to all.

  11. I loved this show So sorry for the actors sometimes it’s hard to believe such wonderful actors can go thru such a hard life I loved the way on the show how they loved each other were so close as a family

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