Child Actress, Anissa Jones, "Buffy" from Family Affair

Entertainment | October 13, 2018

Whatever became of Buffy, the little girl who you couldn’t help but love, from Family Affair?

Family Affair

Whatever became of Buffy, the little girl who you couldn’t help but love, from Family Affair?

Before Family Affair, Anissa Jones had made her first television appearance in a breakfast cereal commercial when she was only six years old. At eight years old, she received the role as “Buffy.” Family Affair, which aired from 1966 until 1971, is the story of Buffy and Jodie (the twins) and their older sister, Cissy, who go live with their uncle in New York after their parents die in a car accident. Their “Uncle Bill” is a bachelor who knows nothing about taking care of kids so enlists the help of his valet, Mr. French. The life of a child actor/actress is very hard. They have to work seven days a week doing something for the show like shooting a scene or either promoting it in some way.

Lunch Box

The famous doll, Mrs. Beasley, was used as a promotional gimmick for the show and sold by Mattel. Other toys and items that were marketed include paper dolls, lunch boxes, coloring books, clothing, and even a cookbook with Buffy’s picture on the cover. Besides Family Affair, other television shows that she appeared on were Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-in, The Mike Douglas Show, and The Dick Cavett Show, with that one being her last appearance on television in 1971.

The Trouble with Girls

Besides television, Anissa obtained a role, in 1969, in the Elvis Presley movie “The Trouble with Girls.” It was the only movie she ever played in. She played the role of Carol Bix and performed the song “Doodle Doo Doo.” There were several other children performing in this movie including another very famous child actress, Susan Olson (Cindy Brady from the Brady Bunch).

An older "Buffy"

Her life started out normal enough, with her father being an engineering graduate, and her mother a zoology student, at the time of her birth. Not long after she was born, they moved to California where her father got a job in aerospace engineering. After Family Affair was canceled, with Anissa being 13 years old, she was glad to not have to be seen holding that doll any longer. She had hoped to work in films, but could not land the type of role she was hoping for. Auditioning for the part in “The Exorcist,” she was turned down because people still thought of her as Buffy on Family Affair, so instead, they chose Linda Blair. Too little too late, Brian Keith offered her a part on “The Brian Keith Show,” which aired from 1972 to 1974, but by that time, she had lost the desire to work in television. Also offered a chance to audition for a part in “Taxi Driver,” she turned that down as well. Anissa felt like she was typecast, that everyone thought of her as being like “Buffy,” which made it hard for her to get a different type of role.

Just a year before she started on Family Affair, her parents went through a terrible divorce with a long and bitter custody battle for her and her little brother. Sadly, in 1973, after her father finally was awarded custody, he died shortly afterward. Once her father passed away, she went to live with a friend while her brother went to live with their mother. She began to skip school and ended up being arrested, as her mother reported her as a runaway. Later, after months of being in Juvenile Hall, she was allowed to go live with her mother. Next, she began taking drugs and shoplifting and, by 1975, she had dropped out of high school. 

Meni Peer seen here with child actress Anissa Jones from the American sitcom ‘Family Affair’ in Israel in 1972 (photo credit: JERUSALEM POST ARCHIVE)

Anissa is seen here with Meni Peer in Israel. Meni Peer was a television, radio, and stage personality as well as an art expert and wine connoisseur. Sadly, not only has he passed away but also has Anissa Jones. She passed away at the very young age of 18. This tragic ending of her life is just the sad conclusion to a chain of sad events throughout her short life. In March of 1976, on her eighteenth birthday, she finally gained control of her earnings from Family Affair, which was $180,000 and an unspecified amount of money from U.S. Savings Bonds. This had been held for her in a trust fund. After receiving this, she and her brother rented an apartment together not far from their mother. Only five months later, in August of 1976, she attended a party with her “new” boyfriend on the beach. Later, she was found dead at her 14-year-old friend’s house in one of the bedrooms. Her death was ruled as an accidental drug overdose with cocaine, PCP, Seconal and Quaalude in her system. There was also a vial of a blue liquid found by her body that was never identified. What a sad ending! She didn’t even have a funeral, as she was cremated, with her ashes being spread over the Pacific Ocean. Of the $180,000 that she had just received, she had $63,000 left and over $100,000 left in savings bonds.

A young Anissa Jones (Buffy)

Such innocence in this young life to have ended so tragically -- to top things off, her own doctor was arrested, just six days later, charged with illegally prescribing the medication Seconal to her. With multiple charges against him, including second-degree murder, while waiting for his trial to come up, he died just four months after Anissa. The murder charges were dropped but his estate was sued by the family with a final judgment of $79,500 awarded. As if that weren’t bad enough, on March 15, 1984, Anissa’s brother, Paul, died as well of a drug overdose. He was only 24 years old. Their mother died in January of 2012.

Those of us who loved watching “Family Affair,” we will always remember Anissa Jones as the little girl “Buffy.” 

Tags: Anissa Jones | Celebrities When They Were Young | Child Actors | Family Affair | Rare Facts And Stories About... | Then And Now

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Terry Claypoole


Terry is a lover of the beach, history, politics and has a passion for social media and technology. In her spare time, you can find her at the beach (of course) enjoying the sand and sun and listening to music from the groovy era.