'Family Affair' Star Kathy Garver Opens up about the So-Called 'Family Affair Curse'

Odette Odendaal
Mar 14, 2019
05:35 P.M.

The trendsetting 1960s hit comedy “Family Affair” carried the cloud of an alleged “curse” for many years. One of only two cast members still alive Kathy Garver shed more light on what everyone wanted to know.


72-year old Kathy became a household name in the late 1960s as Catherine “Cissy” Patterson-Davis in the comedy series “Family Affair” which aired from 1966 until 1971. The other main characters were John Whitaker, Brian Keith, Sebastian Cabot, and the young Anissa Jones.

Kathy landed a once in a lifetime role, and as a cast, they enjoyed what they did while also getting along, as she elaborated:

“We liked each other a lot, and we got along very well. Of course, when you're with somebody all day, it's nice to go home to your own family, so we didn't spend a lot of time outside of work.”


With the change of viewer demands, the show stopped, and that is when the “cursed” reputation began to take shape.

The actor who played Giles French, Sebastian Cabot suffered a stroke six years after the end of the show, his chemistry with costar Brian Keith, who played Uncle Bill always stood out, and his sudden death shocked many.

When Brian Keith died in 1997, it came as less of a shock but tragic none the less. He was losing a hard battle against cancer and took his own life, as Kathy said:

“Brian, being who Brian is, he had been in charge of his own life, was going to be in charge of his own death.”


In Kathy’s eyes he “was a very warm, warm and sensitive man” but at the same time he was “being a very macho guy.”

As the youngest cast member, Anissa Jones, who played Buffy, met her tragic end when she died of a drug overdose aged 18.

At Anissa’s 18th birthday party her mother expressed her concern over Anissa towards Kathy Davis, "Kathy, I wish you'd spend some more time with Anissa because I really think that she's in with a bad group of people,” her mother said.


She had to leave for the east coast to do a “My Fair Lady” musical the next day and was unable to stay. Three weeks later Anissa overdosed.

The only other surviving cast member, Johnny Whitaker also struggled with drugs over the years. Following an intervention and rehab, he managed to stay clean. However, John and Kathy didn’t keep in touch over the years as their lives took very different directions.

At one point the two didn’t exactly see eye to eye, unaware of this, the producers of the comedy decided to reunite Johnny and Kathy. Off the bat he apologized for “anything I”ve done” which didn’t help matters at all as Kathy recalled her response:

"If you had at any time, in all of the gigs I set you up for, called me and said thank you, that would've been very nice."


She did eventually accept John’s apology, but that is as far as it went. The “Family Affair” star currently lives in California with her husband and son.

Whether she thinks that the show was cursed, “I don't think there's any curse. But if one can put something in a single word or a single sentence, that I think explains the unexplainable to many people," Kathy said.

Some people don't believe in things like curses, but a mother from Birmingham surely does. According to her, every Christmas like clockwork, things go horribly wrong.

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