March 11, 1958 -August 28, 1976“Yes, Mr. French.”
Dead child stars are always afascination. Probably because we grew up withthese people. Anissa was one of the first to go down, and with the help of BrianKeith O’Hara and Celebrity Collectables, we’ve managed to put together adecentsummary of Buffy’s demise.
FirstBrian clarifies, “Just so youknow, friends and family referred to her as “AnEEsa” – not AnIssa, andcertainly not “Buffy.” I’m shocked how often people in the industrycalled her BUFFY in the E! special.”
Here’s the scoop:
Mary Anissa Jones was from Playa Del Rey, CA,and was a regular on the hit television showFamily Affair during its entire run from 1966 to 1971. She played orphanedtwin Buffy and Johnnie Whitaker playedher brother Jody. Mrs. Beasley was an old-lady doll (weird) of Buffy’s thatbecame a pop-culture icon.
Anissa was 13 when the show was cancelled, anddecided she wanted out of the show business. She wanted to be more like “normal”kids. Her turbulent-at best-relationship with her stage mother anddivorced father made her life anything but normal. It was extremelycomplicated. She lived a life more screwed-up than a lot of screwed-up adults I know.
Her mother lived at 100Rees Street, in Playa Del Rey. I took these photographs about 6 yearsapart, the latest being March 2015.
Anissa had written her name in cement on theside of the house. I had heard that the cement was gone with therenovation. I’m thrilled to say it’s still there in March 2015.
Anissa attended WestchesterHigh School.
She was on the outs withher mother (typically), and she and her brother Paul moved in with her father inthis apartment.
Her fatherdied, Paul moved back in with mom and Anissa moved in with a friend. Hermom freaked and reported her as runaway, Anissa was arrested and put in juveniledetention for a few months. I think this iswhere she learned that the world could shit on you from greatheights.
She was released from prison in 1975, and hadlittle of her money left since her mother controlled it. As I understandit, her mother unable to make a career for herself, so her life became managingher daughter. The cost ofliving on the beach was hugely expensive,
Anissaswallowed her pride, and took up ajob at the Yum Yum Donut Shop, on Manchester Blvd.
On her 18th birthday, she received her $70,000 trustfund from her Family Affair earnings, so she and her brother got an apartmenttogether. She started seeing a guy named Allan Kovan. He was way intoheavy drugs and Anissa and her brother Paul got way into heavy drugsthemselves.
On August 28th, 1976, Anissa was staying with her friend Helen at2312 Littler Lane, inOceanside, California.
Here’s anotherview of the house.
Much thanks to Ann Parisi (my hero) for getting those pictures.
At 12:29 in the afternoon, someone named Hennessy phoned foran ambulance at the above address, stating there was a possible drug overdosevictim. Anissa was discovered by paramedics wearing only white boxerslaying on a waterbed in an upstairs bedroom. She was covered with ablanket. There were no vital signs. She was removed from the bed tothe floor where CPR was performed to no avail.
The autopsy report reads like a soap opera. There weremany youths involved at the house, getting high, coming and going from whatturned out to be the Hennessy residence. When Anissa’s body was found, someone ranscreaming to a nearby restaurant to get one of the others who left earlier…fascinating document available here.
Anissa downed amixture of drugs including Barbiturates, Phencyclidine and Cocaine. Obviously she hadfriends in high places. Shortly thereafter, she “rolled stone-dead onto the floorbeside her bed.” Her boyfriend says in the E! thing,that he checked on her in the morning, and she seemed fine. An hour later,others checked and found her dead. Boyfriend freaked, put some clothes onher, and called the paramedics. It was too late. The coronersupposedly said that he had never seen an overdose so massive.
It is said that this photograph wastaken the daybefore she died.
and the addendum
There was no funeral. According to my pal Kim, she was taken to Eternal Hills Memorial Park, in Oceanside, andcremated. They scattered her ashes at sea, near her home.
Her Family Affair co-stars Johnny Whitaker andKathy Garver discuss Anissa.
Her brother Paul wrote thismemorial in concrete, in front of the garage.
Interestingly, the datesare wrong. Even more tragically, Paul diedof an overdose 8 years later.
Trivia: Anissa, along with Jimmy Durante, presented the Monkees with an Emmy for Best ComedySeries in1967. Although I love Jimmy Durante, the sight of him rubbing his bulbousnose against Anissa’s cherubic face, made me extremely uncomforable.
Someone sent me this a gajillion years ago,now I can finally delete it from my hard drive.
Even more: Johnny Whitaker, the actor that played her twin brotherJody, was actually 2 years younger than Anissa.
Though I cannot be sure, I like to think thatthis was her mailbox at the time.
Because this one certainly wasn’t.
Brian Keith, Uncle Bill, committedsuicide.