March 11, 1958 – August 28, 1976
“Yes, Mr. French.”
Dead child stars are always a fascination. Probably because we grew up with these people. Anissa 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 Affairearnings, 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
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.