Anissa Jones: The Sad, Short and Tragic Life of the "Family Affair" Star

Herbie J Pilato
Annisa Jones (bottom left) with fellow "Family Affair" cast members (from top left) Kathy Garver, Sebastian Cabot, and Johnny WhitakerPhoto

She was one of the darlings of 1960s family television.

She was also one of several former child-stars who died too young after years of being in the spotlight that proved to be overwhelming.

Her name was Anissa Jones, and she starred in the classic TV series, Family Affair, alongside Brian Keith, Sebastian Cabot, Kathy Garver, and Johnny Whitaker.

As documented on and Reel Reviews, Jones was best known for "her role as Buffy in the sitcom Family Affair. She was born on March 11, 1958, in Indiana to John Paul Jones and Mary Paula Jones. Her father, who was an engineer, got a job at the University of Southern California and at the Hughes Aircraft Company, so the family relocated to the Golden State. Jones enrolled in dance classes at 4 years old, and two years later, she starred in her first commercial. Around that time, producers Henry Garson and Edmund Beloin were developing a new show titled Family Affair, and they thought Jones would be perfect for the role of Buffy." 

According to the San Francisco Examiner, “Acting proved to be the big break for the Jones family. The parents divorced shortly after moving to California and Mrs. Jones suddenly had to look for a job. A neighbor who had a child making TV commercials suggested that Mrs. Jones get Anissa started in the same field. Some four commercials later, Anissa was seen and signed by a producer of Family Affair for the part of Buffy.”

As her mother Patty once expressed in an interview, Annisa's role as Buffy on Family Affair ignited in her an identity crisis. The young actress was always "ready to say, ‘Please call me Anissa’ when people refer to her as Buffy, her name on the show. I do think she likes to be recognized in public — it has some meaning,” her mother relayed.

According to, when Anissa turned 18 in March of 1976, she received forced savings from her salary on Family Affair. She then received an additional amount from her trust fund, which dwindled down to nothing in only a few short months.

As concluded, "Anissa’s life sadly came to an end on August 28, 1976, at age 18. After a night of partying with her friends and then-boyfriend, she suffered an overdose. About six days later, her doctor, Don Carlos Moshos, was charged with manslaughter for illegally prescribing Seconal to her. He died while awaiting trial and the case was closed. While her death was ruled as accidental, it’s no secret that she was struggling internally."

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Herbie J Pilato is the author of several books about pop culture including RETRO ACTIVE TELEVISION, THE 12 BEST SECRETS OF CHRISTMAS, MARY: THE MARY TYLER MOORE STORY, TWITCH UPON A STAR, GLAMOUR, GIDGETS AND THE GIRL NEXT DOOR, DASHING, DARING AND DEBONAIR, and NBC & ME: MY LIFE AS A PAGE IN A BOOK, among others. He's also a TV writer/producer, and has worked for Reelz, Bravo, E!, TLC, and hosted THEN AGAIN WITH HERBIE J PILATO, the hit classic TV talk show (which premiered on Amazon Prime in 2019).

Los Angeles, CA

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