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It's A Family Affair

Culture | September 29, 2017

In 1966, the sitcom Family Affair won the hearts of TV viewers when three cute orphaned children from Indiana come to live with their well-to-do Uncle Bill and his British butler, Mr. French, in Manhattan. Fifth Avenue, to be exact. 

This heartwarming show ran for five seasons, remaining a fan favorite until it’s last episode in 1971. Big sister Cissy and her twin siblings Buffy and Jody were cuteness overload, while the most famous character was in fact Buffy’s doll, Mrs. Beasley. Kathy Garver, who played Cissy, was actually 20 when the show began, but she portrayed a 15 year-old teenager. 

Brian Keith was the main character as Bill Davis, a wealthy engineer and bachelor who tries his best to raise his brother’s orphaned kids in his luxury NYC apartment. Sebastian Cabot portrayed his English gentleman’s gentleman, Mr. French. Buffy and Jody, the six year-old twins, were played by Anissa Jones and Johnny Whitaker.

When Bill's brother Bob and sister-in-law Mary die in an car wreck, a year prior to the premiere episode, none of their relatives in Indiana wanted to raise the children full-time, so all of them decided to give the responsibility to Bill. "Uncle Bill" is not happy with the idea at first, but the kids eventually endear themselves to him. Mr. French is mortified by the situation initially, but he gradually becomes the children's nanny on top of his valet duties. And they all became one big happy family! 

Many of the episodes were opened by Sebastian Cabot saying, "Good evening, so nice of you to join us." and he would close the episode by saying, "It's been very good of you to watch and we do hope to see you again next week on Family Affair".

When Sebastian Cabot became ill during early production of the show, Giles' brother, Nigel "Niles" French (John Williams) was introduced to the viewers. He worked for the Davis family on nine episodes of the sitcom in 1967, while Giles was said to be touring with the Queen in the Commonwealth countries, as Cabot recuperated in real life. In the show’s last season, Bill hires a part-time housekeeper, Emily Turner (Nancy Walker), to help Mr. French.

Sadly, the show’s cast has had several deaths over the years: Anissa Jones (who played Buffy) died by an overdose of sleeping pills in 1976 at the age of 18. Sebastian Cabot (Mr. French) died of a stroke in 1977 at the age of 59. And Brian Keith (Uncle Bill) committed suicide in 1997, at the age of 75, two months after the suicide of his daughter. 

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Cyn Felthousen-Post

Writer

Cyn loves history, music, Irish dancing, college football and nature. Social media is also her thing, keeping up with trends and celebrities with positive news. She can be found outside walking or hiking with her son when she's not working. Carpe diem is her fave quote, get out there and seize the day!