Family Affair – The tragic death of Anissa Jones

She will always be known as Buffy, the pigtailed blond girl who was eight years old for five seasons on the 1960’s hit CBS television show, Family Affair. The show starred Brian Keith as Uncle Bill, a wealthy New York City bachelor who adopts his brother’s three children after he and their mother die (how they died is forever a mystery). Distinguished British actor Sebastian Cabot played Uncle Bill’s “gentleman‘s gentleman,” Mr. French. The show revolved around the resulting hilarity as the three children, teenage Sissy and twins Jody and Buffy tried to adapt to a new lifestyle with two men that they barely knew.

The cast of Family Affair

Family Affair was a bone fide hit, placing fourteenth in the ratings in 1966-`967, its first year on the air. In the 1967-1968 season it tied with The Dean Martin Show at number four. The next year Family Affair tied for fifth place with the long-running westerns Gunsmoke and Bonanza. Season five came in at number five, but by the 1970-1971 season it failed to rate at all and the show was dropped by CBS.

The show was produced by Don Fedderson, who was famous around Hollywood for his torturous production schedules, usually working his non-star actors six days a week, all year long. Fedderson, who also produced another hit show for CBS, My Three Sons, offered Brian Keith as well as My Three Sons star Fred McMurray an easier production schedule than he laid on his co-stars. All the scenes with Keith or McMurray were filmed in two thirty-day blocks, so the two stars could be available for film work. This schedule meant that everyone else on the program had to film their scenes out of sync with the actual show that they were working on. Any frame that Keith wasn’t in was filmed later.

In her role as Buffy, Anissa was a sickeningly sweet little girl who constantly carried, and talked to, an large, ugly, eyeglass-wearing doll called Mrs. Beasley that resembled an old-fashioned schoolmarm. The doll was mass-produced and sold millions. So stiff was Fedderson’s style that Buffy never aged in the five years that the program was broadcast. Nor did her hairstyle or clothing change—blond pig-tails that stuck out of the side of her head and out-of-fashion Little Bo-Peep dresses.

As Jones matured into a teenager, Fedderson had his wardrobe people cover her breasts with bindings to make her appear eight years old. To add insult to injury, Jones’ mother Mary, an aggressive stage mother, and Fedderson kept Alissa busy with public

Anissa does not look like a happy little girl

appearances to sell the various merchandise with her and Mrs. Beasley’s images on them, long after Anissa hit puberty. She was forced to carry around Mrs. Beasley and act like an eight-year old when she was thirteen.

When CBS cancelled Family Affair in 1971, Jones was happy that it was over. She rejected most acting roles that came her way and tried to be a normal teenager. Anissa and her younger brother Paul, who were always inseparable, were pawns in their parents divorce until their father John was finally awarded full custody in 1973, only to die shortly afterwards from a heart condition. The two teenagers were forced to moved in with their mother in Playa del Ray.

A rebellious teen, tired of working a grueling schedule under hot lights, Jones wanted to go to a regular school and hang out with people her own age. Mary got Anissa tossed in to Juvenile Detention for staying away from home for days at a time and failing school grades.

Anissa got a job at a Winchell’s Donut Shop in Playa del Ray, something that must have deeply embarrassed her mother. Hanging out with the stoner beach crowd, Anissa started to drink alcohol and smoke marijuana, waiting patiently for her eighteenth birthday when

Anissa grew up into a beautiful woman

she would get $70,000 from a trust fund and $107,800 worth of U.S. Savings Bonds. She and Paul didn’t waste a minute leaving their mother’s home and rented a nearby apartment.

Always putting her brother first, Anissa bought him a brand-new and fully accessorized Camaro while buying a brand new Ford Pinto for herself. Together the siblings took the drug usage up a notch when they started snorting cocaine and Angel Dust and eating an assortment of downers. Alcohol and weed were always around, and their apartment quickly became known as a 24-hour party house.

On August 28, 1976, just over five months after receiving her trust fund money, Anissa Jones was found dead in a friend’s house in Oceanside. Clad in only boxer shorts, Jones had overdosed on Quaaludes, Secobarbital, cocaine, and Angel Dust. When her friends back in Playa del Ray found out that she had died, they broke into her apartment and stole everything of value.

It was rumored that her stomach was a mass of coagulated medication. Whatever the truth, San Diego Coroner Robert Creason put it bluntly, “Mary Anissa Jones’ death was one of the most severe cases of drug overdose ever seen in San Diego County.”

Five months after receiving her trust fund money, Anissa Jones was found dead in a friend’s house in Oceanside

Keeping in family tradition, Paul Jones died of an overdose in 1984. The apple cheeked little girl who never aged in 138 episodes of Family Affair would forever be eight years old.

41 thoughts on “Family Affair – The tragic death of Anissa Jones

        • where’s the vince welnick post?

          For Anissa, with friends like that… according to the Anissa Jones Death forum, the “friends” and “boyfriend” found her dead and then went out to eat breakfast driving her car and robbed her apartment. It looked pretty obvious she was dead. They didn’t call police or emergency til hours later.
          She must have had a really bad home life to end up that rebellious. But in a way I don’t think she could have gotten “help” back then being the 1970s.

          • She could have gotten plenty of help but being so young and having such a fast downward spiral and leeches all around, she hadn’t the experience to hit a bottom. I am so blessed to have lived through the many years out there that I experienced and as most of us have to have our last stop be either jails institutions or death. I think the biggest harm to her was the money and a family life that she didn’t know how to escape. Bless her always and look back on what childhood fame has tragically done to so many. God Bless You Anissa and Paul. I am deeply pained by your story. May You Rest In Peace Forever.JoAnna G.

      • Im a baby boomer and remember family affair being such an iconic show. Anessa’s story is so tragic and telling of how inhuman hollwood’s dream factory id.

  1. i grew up in Playa Del Rey-i remember all to well the death of Anissa Jones-she was really sweet,but there were a number of drug overdose death’s around that time-one that come’s to mind,Paula May,they found her dead in a dumpster behind the Vendome liquor store in Playa Del Rey-her brother Paul was a really good friend of mine-it was just tragic-his mother found him dead from a Heroin overdose-he had been dead for 4-5 days,

  2. Lynn Gonzo... I remember hearing of her death and I wa living in Sohthern cal. at the time. I remeer source was a man named Dr. Feel good out of Oceanside CA.I still sometimes watch an old episode. on said:

    I’m not sure what came across….Anissa, as I remember was given, her deadly drugs by a man named Dr. Feel Good from Oceanside CA. Her so called friends who robbed her after her death, know more than they have told!!! Input!???

    • There was no Dr. feel good in O side at least not in this case Dr Dope maybe! but that’s another story entirely. The drugs came from various places but the reds from a famous Dr in L.A. later convicted and also sued by Anissa’s mom Paula. He was dangerous , but yes the friends knew and know more and most likely were involved in more was than we know!!

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  4. It wasn’t tragic at all. It was just plain stupidity. The girl, her brother, and drug users everywhere are/were idiots. Tragic is children starving, victims of natural disasters and auto accidents. Tragic is all the good that could be have been done with the money that drug users and alcoholics waste day in and day out. How much suffering could the Red Cross for example, have helped with the street value of the drugs in her gut? The death of a drug wasted shell of a person is not a tragedy except when they take innocent others with them in crashes and crimes.

  5. i am 15 and i had to do a research project on Anissa Jones, i found this article very helpful and i got most of my info from here.
    Thank you very much i am glad that u wrote this.

  6. I don’t know who you are that grew up in PDR, but you are wrong about Paula May; she was a very close friend for years, she was in her bedroom at home when she ODd! I was friends with Anissa since 1st day of K, always in same class. She actually DID go to school most of the year. You’re right we had alotta ODs itwas the 70s, but get it straight; the people who were with Anissa were all younger than Her, kids! How the hell were they supposed to know what to do? Paul was at home so how could these so called friends break in & rob them? Get it right. At least!

  7. I don’t know who you are that grew up in PDR, but you are wrong about Paula May; she was a very close friend for years, she was in her bedroom at home when she ODd! I was friends with Anissa since 1st day of K, always in same class. She actually DID go to school most of the year. You’re right we had alotta ODs itwas the 70s, but get it straight; the people who were with Anissa were all younger than Her, kids! How the hell were they supposed to know what to do? Paul was at home so how could these so called friends break in & rob them? Get it right. At least!

    • JD: do you have any more knowledge about Anissa’s death and the break in of her and Paul’s apartment?
      And wasn’t Anissa required on the set most of the year? Thank you!

  8. I love you forever with all of my heart Mary anissa Jones, they can say whatever they will but to be absent from the flesh is to be present with the Lord, there will be no tears in Heaven or flesh, & im certain there wont be any drugs either, Amen My Sister, I say a Special prayer that ill meet you there. ( -_-) Sincerely Your true friend Steve. P.S. I think i can speak for anissa when i say they were not her friends in anyways at all ever! They’re scum of the earth. God Bless You Mary Anissa Jones Precious Child of YHVH.

  9. Please excuse my mistake when i addressed anissa as Mary anissa Jones i was intensified when i was defending her sweet spirit & the way this world treated her with no true friends just her poor brother yes its tragic an sad but there is still a few good people left on this earth God help us & thank you very much David i knew there was a story about sweet little buffy Bless her Heart.

  10. I have read that Anissa’s father died around 1974. But I cannot find any information on what became of her mother. Did she ever give an interview in the years following Anissa’s death? Is she still alive or has she passed? Are there any living relatives, such as cousins, Aunts, Uncles? Does anyone know?

    • Anissa Mother has passed a few years ago. She never gave a public interview about her daughter after her death. I don’t know about any extended family.

  11. I grew up watching family affair. About 5-6 years old. I had a mrs. Beazley doll. Never really know what happen to it. I wonder if I could find one somewhere??? I am going to see if I could find a pic of me with the doll. Thanks for this post. Never knew the story behind Buffy. What a sad story.

  12. So sad, and tragic. Even though I am 5 years younger than Anissa, I have always enjoyed the show and have also felt connected to her, being that I am petite and had a dysfunctional family life, as well. The person who said that this is not tragic is very ignorant! That poor girl was a lost…an abusive and controlling mother who never let her have a normal environment. I am sad that she chose drugs over life…gone way too soon. ♡ to Anissa.

  13. I still watch Family Affair today on Me TV, some of this comments are rude and disrespectful, Its a tragic scenario & being a young child that clearly carried disappointments..subjected to an unhealthy family life,and under went a lot of public scrutiny, I can see how drugs played a part & took this poor Childs innocents that sadly lead to disaster after disaster..RIP Anissa

  14. It seems that lots of television star’s overdosed back then. I wonder if it had something to do with having lots of money. Its written in The BIBLE, that the poor is hated of his own neighbors, but the rich hath many friends. When one has money they do have many friends, but they’re not true friends, they’re nothing but user-friend’s that use you to get what they can get out of you. Most of these user’s are dope heads that go after one’s money to support their own habits. I think she may have just got mixed up with the wrong crowd.

  15. Brian Keith had a tragic life himself……he commented suicide, plus his daughter did also…….
    So sad……I feel so bad that Brian Keith and Alissa died so tragically.
    Mary Ann

  16. I just know how overworked Annissa was as a kid. I went to a “public appearance” at a local mall once. The whole thing consisted of a limosene pulling up inside, Annissa gettiing out and walking down a runway holding hands with a man and woman. She never smiled or spoke, just looked very tired. When they got to the end of the runway, they all got in another limosene and drove out. I just remember feeling sorry for her because she was obviously so exhausted-and bored of the public appearances!!!

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