Anissa Jones

March 11, 1958 – August 28, 1976

Yes, Mr. French.


Anissa Jones
Anissa Jones


Dead child stars are always a fascination.  Probably because we grew up with these people.  Anissa Jones was one of the first to go down, and with the help of Brian Keith O’Hara and Celebrity Collectables, we’ve managed to put together a decent summary of Buffy’s demise.

First Brian clarifies, “Just so you know, friends and family referred to her as “AnEEsa” – not AnIssa, and certainly not “Buffy.”  I’m shocked how often people in the industry called 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 show Family Affair during its entire run from 1966 to 1971. She played orphaned twin Buffy and Johnnie Whitaker played her brother Jody. Mrs. Beasley was an old-lady doll (weird) of Buffy’s that became a pop-culture icon.




Anissa was 13 when the show was cancelled, and decided she wanted out of the show business.  She wanted to be more like “normal” kids.  Her turbulent-at best-relationship with her stage mother and divorced father made her life anything but normal.  It was extremely complicated.  She lived a life more screwed-up than a lot of screwed-up adults I know.

Her mother lived at 100 Rees Street, in Playa Del Rey. I took these photographs about 6 years apart, the latest being March 2015.



Anissa had written her name in cement on the side of the house.  I had heard that the cement was gone with the renovation.  I’m thrilled to say it’s still there in March 2015.



Anissa  attended Westchester High School.




She was on the outs with her mother (typically), and she and her brother Paul moved in with her father in this apartment.



Her father died, Paul moved back in with mom and Annisa moved in with a friend.  Her mom freaked and reported her as runaway, Anissa was arrested and put in juvenile detention for a few months.  I think this is where she learned that the world could shit on you from great heights.

She was released from prison in 1975, and had little of her money left since her mother controlled it.  As I understand it, her mother unable to make a career for herself, so her life became managing her daughter.  The cost of living on the beach was hugely expensive,

Anissa swallowed her pride, and took up a job at the Yum Yum Donut Shop, on Manchester Blvd.




On her 18th birthday, she received her $70,000 trust fund from her Family Affair earnings, so she and her brother got an apartment together.  She started seeing a guy named Allan Kovan.  He was way into heavy drugs and Anissa and her brother Paul got way into heavy drugs themselves.

On August 28th, 1976, Anissa was staying with her friend Helen at 2312 Littler Lane, in Oceanside, California.



Here’s another view of the house.



Much thanks to Ann Parisi (my hero) for getting those pictures.

At 12:29 in the afternoon, someone named Hennessy phoned for an ambulance at the above address, stating there was a possible drug overdose victim.  Anissa was discovered by paramedics wearing only white boxers laying on a waterbed in an upstairs bedroom.  She was covered with a blanket.  There were no vital signs.  She was removed from the bed to the floor where CPR was performed to no avail.

The autopsy report reads like a soap opera.  There were many youths involved at the house, getting high, coming and going from what turned out to be the Hennessy residence.  When Anissa’s body was found, someone ran screaming to a nearby restaurant to get one of the others who left earlier… fascinating document available here.

Anissa downed a mixture of drugs including Barbiturates, Phencyclidine and Cocaine. Obviously she had friends in high places. Shortly thereafter, she “rolled stone-dead onto the floor beside 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 on her, and called the paramedics.  It was too late.  The coroner supposedly said that he had never seen an overdose so massive.

It is said that this photograph was taken the day before she died.



and the addendum

Anissa Jones Death Certificate
Anissa Jones Death Certificate



There was no funeral.  According to my pal Kim, she was taken to Eternal Hills Memorial Park, in Oceanside, and cremated. They scattered her ashes at sea, near her home.

Her Family Affair co-stars Johnny Whitaker and Kathy Garver discuss Anissa.



Her brother Paul wrote this memorial in concrete, in front of the garage.



Interestingly, the dates are wrong.  Even more tragically,  Paul  died of an overdose 8 years later.

Trivia: Anissa, along with Jimmy Durante,  presented the Monkees with an Emmy for Best Comedy Series in 1967.  Although I love Jimmy Durante, the sight of him rubbing his bulbous nose against Anissa’s cherubic face, made me extremely uncomfortable.



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 brother Jody, was actually 2 years younger than Anissa.

Though I cannot be sure, I like to think that this was her mailbox at the time.



Because this one certainly wasn’t.



Brian Keith, Uncle Bill, committed suicide.



16 thoughts on “Anissa Jones

  • May 7, 2021 at 11:05 pm

    i remember Mad Magazine hilarious parody of the family affair, Uncle Bilge, Mr. Stench, Boffy and Jokey lmaooooooooo

    • May 26, 2021 at 9:22 am

      I remember that parody: Mr Stench opened his shirt to reveal that his neckbeard went all the way down his chest. I think ‘Jokey’ exclaimed: “Ooh! Didn’t I see you in ‘Planet of the Apes’?”

  • February 25, 2021 at 6:51 am

    It has to be tough to go from being a star to just plain and ordinary person. To some degree I blame her parents because they could have made sure she stayed grounded all during the show years. But they themselves look like they had problems so that avenue of support went out the door. Maybe if her brother Paul had been stronger he could have been a source of strength and comfort.

    I applaud the work of Paul Petersen. He played “Jeff Stone” on the Donna Reed Show. He started a child advocacy program called “A Minor Consideration”. It is a support group for child actors and former child actors. I think things are in place today that would prevent some of the mental abuses Anissa had to endure. The bottom line is that there have been many former actors whether child or Adults who figured life out and have live productive Adult lives. It was a tragedy what happened to her but it serves as a warning that we all have choices in life and we must be smart in those choices!

  • August 29, 2020 at 11:12 am

    Excellent research. I really hope her name is still in the concrete. I’ll check it out soon.

    • September 24, 2020 at 6:34 pm

      Did you get a chance to look yet? I’m curious 🙂

  • August 6, 2020 at 4:13 pm

    I can’t believe you used the sh-word in this article! How crude and offensive! Here I am reading, eager to learn about this young lady, and then you blurt out the sh-word like it’s nothing! And what gets me is that I have ranted against this kind of language for 20 years online, typing my fingers to the bone! Haven’t you read a thing I have written? It just astounds me that people can talk like that! I never use that language!

  • July 3, 2020 at 3:06 pm

    And the producers had her do almost an entire season with a broken leg and crutches. At least Kaley Cuoco got two episodes off and was then only filmed from the waist up after she broke hers.

  • March 16, 2020 at 7:27 pm

    She Anissa is greatly missed I have a half sister in oceanside 16 minutes away from where Anissa died so sad.peace

  • November 25, 2019 at 3:41 pm

    One day Back in the summer of 1971, I was 12 years old and me and a friend were hanging out at our Mall in Louisville KY when Anissa happened to be making a public appearance. A pretty large crowd was gathering in the atrium around a stage when the Family Affair music started and Anissa and an old guy in a suit came floating down the escalator. They sat her up on the stage on a high chair. It seemed like something out of a freak show. Basically they just paraded her around as this child star. She must have been at least 13 and they had her in pig tails carrying that stupid doll. The poor thing seemed miserable. She did a Q and A with the crowd but was visibly pissed at her handler. He seemed embarrassed by her (what I thought at the time was bratty), responses to his goading. Even at that young age I felt sorry for her.

    • December 20, 2019 at 8:48 pm

      Hello John! I too am from Louisville and I’m trying to think of what Mall you would
      have been at. I know the Jeff. Mall wasn’t built yet.. maybe Bashford or St. Matthews or Oxmore? At any rate, good to see a fellow Louisvillian on here. Small world!


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