20 Facts about the Famous 'Family Affair' TV Series Even Fans Might Not Know

Ra'eesah Manack
Oct 04, 2019
03:11 P.M.
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In the 70s the TV sitcom "A Family Affair" took television by storm. The show gained a massive fan base that still reminisces about it to this day.


The CBS sitcom "A Family Affair" aired on TV from September 12, 1966, to March 4, 1971. It told the story of engineer Bill Davis, played by Brian Keith, who raises his brother's orphaned children in his luxury New York City apartment.

The children, 15-year-old Cissy (Kathy Garver) and the five-year-old twins, Jody (Johnny Whitaker) and Buffy (Anissa Jones), and Davis are forced to adjust to each other's lifestyles. Here are 20 facts about the show "Family Affair."

"Family Affair" cast Kathy Garver (Cissy), Anissa Jones (Buffy), Johnny Whitaker (Jody), Brian Keith (Bill Davis), and Sebastian Cabot (Mr. French) | WikiMedia Commons


1.  "Brady Bunch" Helped End The Show

"The Brady Bunch" is one of the most famous and iconic television shows.  The show played a role in the canceling of  "A Family Affair" at the end of the fifth season after scheduling conflicts between the shows that arose. 

2. Going Out on a High Note

Shows that are canceled are usually performing badly, however, "A Family Affair" was popular right until it was taken off the air. 

child actress, Anissa Jones promoting the CBS comedy series Family Affair, circa 1970 | Getty Images


3. Curse of the Child Actor

Like many child actors plagued with substance abuse and alcohol addiction, Annisa Jones, who played Buffy, passed away at the age of 18 from an overdose. Her passing was just 5 years after the show was canceled.

4. Keeping it Real

The writers attempted to keep the show as realistic as possible. An example was when the creators of the show hired the President of the National Society of Professional Engineers to help ensure that Uncle Bill, played by Brian Keith, who was a successful engineer in the show spoke the proper terms. 


5. Four Eyes

After the pilot episode, eagle-eyed fans will have noticed that there was a small-but-significant change to Mrs. Beasley. Buffy’s doll became famous for her glasses, but fans noticed that in the original episode she did not wear any. Her glasses were actually a last-minute costume change by the producers.


6. French Remake

The show's popularity warranted a French version. The storyline was based on the same idea but only Uncle Bill had the same name.

7. Small Oversight

The show’s creators tried to focus on all the details but still made the occasional oversight. One of these was the children having a different surname from their uncle even though they were his brother's children.

American child actors, Anissa Jones and Johnny Whitaker promoting the CBS comedy series "Family Affair" circa 1967| Getty Images


8. Another Loss

Brian Keith, the actor that played the beloved Uncle Bill, passed away via suicide in 1997. His death came 26 years after the show was canceled. He was 75 years old and had been suffering from emphysema and cancer at the time of his passing.

9. Mr. French's name Changed in France.

Mr. French was renamed "Mr. Felix" in the French version of the show. Most of the other characters were also renamed.

Family Affair Logo | WikiMedia Commons


10. Same Fictional Universe as "My Three Sons" and "To Rome with Love"

Producer-creator Don Fedderson also created the hit shows "My Three Sons" and "To Rome with Love." As a result, the characters Jody and Buffy also appeared on "To Rome with Love" alongside a few characters from "My Three Sons."

11. Mattel's Three Dolls Based on 'Family Affair.'

Mrs. Beasley, the doll who accompanied Buffy, was a very popular part of the show. Mattel capitalized on her popularity and released a doll in the late 1960s. The launch was followed by two Buffy dolls. One was a "Talking Buffy" that also included a mini Mrs. Beasley.


12. Sebastian Cabot Temporary Replacement

Cabot took leave from filming after falling ill. Thus from episode 18, British actor John Williams played his character's brother, Niles and remained on the show for nine episodes while Cabot recuperated.


13. Brian Keith's Work Schedule

Fred MacMurray worked 65 days a season when filming "My Three Sons" and had a ten-week break. Similarly, Brian Keith's scenes as Uncle Bill were filmed in 30-day blocks.


14. Kathy Garver was 20 years old 

Garver was cast in as teenage Cissy when she was 20. She was also a natural brunette and spray-painted her hair blonde with the "Streaks and Tips" hair product for the audition.

15. Anissa Jones Auditioned for "The Exorcist"

Her role in "Family Affairs" unfortunately gained Anissa Jones a typecast. So when the actress auditioned for the lead role in "The Exorcist" the director feared audiences would not buy her portrayal of a demonically possessed child.


16. Jones Needed To Stay Young

Producer Fedderson wanted to keep Jones' character as a six-year-old for the duration of the show. Thus she was forced to bind her chest when she matured.

17. Jones Broken Leg 

In the show, Buffy breaks her right leg in the season four episode "What's Funny About a Broken Leg?" The reason for the episode was in fact because Jones broke her leg in real life and producers decided to write it into the script.

18. A Canadian Punk Band Tribute to Anissa Jones.

A year after her overdose, a Toronto band called the Diodes released a song called "Child Star," as a tribute to her.


19. Brian Keith and Kathy Garver Work on 'Spider-Man.'

"Uncle Bill"  went on to become "Uncle Ben" in the 1994 Spider-Man cartoon series. Garver also worked on the film as Madeline Joyce who became known as the superhero, Miss America.

20. Cissy and Jody on Broadway

Jody and Cissy, played by Johnny Whitaker and Kathy Garver, avoided the child actor curse and instead went on to Broadway actors.