Actress Anissa Jones died of a large overdose on August 28, 1976, at the age of 18 years old, after years of playing Buffy Davis on the CBS sitcom “Family Affair.”
Anissa Jones delighted TV fans as Buffy on Family Affair with her blond pigtails and eager smile. When the cameras stopped rolling, her life began to collapse, as it did for many young actresses.
Jones, who was 13 at the time, was eager to turn over a new leaf when the show was abruptly terminated in 1971. Jones, on the other hand, felt pigeonholed by her reputation as the precocious and adorable “Buffy” as she began to audition for films.
The movie roles did not materialize. Jones, whose family life was in shambles, turned to drugs and thievery as a way to cope. Her life came to a horrible end when she died of a heroin overdose at a friend’s residence when she was 18 years old in 1976.
This is the true story of Anissa Jones, the young actress from Family Affair who died tragically early.
Anissa Jones’ Ascension to Stardom
Anissa Jones, who was born Mary Anissa Jones on March 11, 1958, in Lafayette, Indiana, rose to stardom at a young age. Her parents split shortly after she and her family moved to California. And, on the advice of a neighbor, Jones’ mother began bringing her to TV commercial auditions.
“Anissa was noticed and signed by a producer of Family Affair for the part of Buffy,” stated the San Francisco Examiner, “four commercials later.”
Jones began starring in the CBS sitcom as one of three children forced to live with their affluent bachelor uncle after their parents died when he was eight years old. Her twin brother Jody was played by Johnny Whitaker, her older sister Cissy was played by Kathy Garver, her uncle Bill was played by Brian Keith, and Uncle Bill’s butler was played by Sebastian Cabot.
Jones “was a natural performer” and “extremely clever,” according to her co-star Garver in The Family Affair Cookbook. “She was gifted and enjoyed making friends with the people that came to see her.”
Throughout the show’s five seasons, Anissa Jones enchanted viewers as Buffy. Mrs. Beasley, the doll she carried, was a hit with viewers, and it was soon turned into a real-life toy that fans could purchase.
Jones, on the other hand, grew tired of playing the small girl as the years passed. When fans referred to her as “Buffy,” she politely requested the name “Anissa.” Jones began to regard her part as “babyish” as she grew older.
“Some of her later performances reveal that she was not as joyful as she was in the early years of the show,” Garver noted.
After that, CBS opted to end Family Affair in 1971. Though the cancellation seemed to come at the perfect time for Anissa Jones, who was itching to try something new, the young actress struggled in the years that followed.
The Aftermath of a Family Affair
Anissa Jones attempted to make the transition from television to film after the termination of Family Affair. However, shedding her image as the lovely Buffy proved to be an overwhelming task.
The filmmaker had a hard time picturing cute young Buffy possessed by a demon when she auditioned for the role of Regan MacNeil in The Exorcist (1973). Jones rejected down a part on her old co-star Brian Keith’s new show, The Brian Keith Show, as well as an audition for the character of Iris “Easy” Steensma in Taxi Driver because she was disillusioned (1976).
Garver stated, “She was done: she had quit show business.” “She formed bonds with local adolescent friends and began to enjoy the freedom she had been denied for the previous five years on the show.”
Unfortunately, many of Jones’ new friends were “drug addicts,” according to Garver. Anissa Jones’ life took a turn for the worst over the next five years.
Jones’s professional struggles were compounded by the fact that her personal life had become a source of stress. Jones and her brother were given to her father as a result of her parents’ divorce, which followed in a protracted custody fight. Jones, though, moved in with a friend when her father died.
“Anissa was in trouble,” said Geoffrey Mark, co-author of Family Affair Cookbook. “She was petty thievery, taking jobs and then quitting them, horrible sleeping habits, bad eating patterns, incredible mood swings.”
Jones’ mother voiced anxiety about her daughter at Jones’ 18th birthday celebration, according to Garver. “I hope Kathy would spend some more time with Anissa because I genuinely think she’s in with a dangerous set of individuals,” Garver told Fox News.
That was a momentous birthday. It was Alissa Jones’s last day, as well as the day she received her inheritance from Family Affair.
“She got a little less than $200,000,” Mark said, “which she wasted virtually immediately.” “In four or five months,” says the narrator.
Alissa Jones didn’t have much time on her hands. She died of a heroin overdose in August of that year.
Anissa Jones’ Death
Anissa Jones and her boyfriend, Allan Kovan, attended a party in Oceanside, California on August 28, 1976. She, on the other hand, never returned home. Jones died at the age of 18 after overdosing on a cocktail of narcotics comprising cocaine, angel dust, Seconal, and Quaaludes.
According to the New York Times, her doctor, Don Carlos Moshos, was later charged with 11 felony counts of illegally administering strong medications.
Garver reported, “The coroner stated it was one of the most massive overdoses he’d ever recorded.” “It was such a tragedy that this wonderful little girl, who was such a bright light, was taken away from us at such an early age.”
Jones, according to Garver, died of an overdose, not a suicide, according to Fox News.
“I don’t think she would have taken her own life since she was a great little child and a lovely teenager,” Garver said. “Given the circumstances and the number of drugs she was taking, and the fact that she was so young, it was just too much for her little body to manage.”
Anissa Jones wasn’t the first member of the Family Affair cast to pass away prematurely. Sebastian Cabot died in 1977 from a stroke, while Brian Keith committed suicide in 1997. Garver, on the other hand, does not believe in the so-called Family Affair curse.
She told Fox News, “I don’t believe there is any curse.” “However, I believe that putting things into a single phrase or a single syllable explains the unexplainable to many people.” No, there isn’t a curse; rather, for certain people, coincidences or alternative lifestyles have occurred. As a result, I don’t believe it’s a curse.”
Anissa Jones is most known now for the part that launched her career. Her performance as Buffy is immortalized in snippets on YouTube and elsewhere, like a fossil in amber. However, Anissa Jones’ life — and terrible death — paints a different story. It encapsulates the difficulties faced by child actors, the horrors of typecasting, and the risks of achieving and then losing success.