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.
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
She was on the outs with
her mother (typically), and she and her brother Paul moved in with her father in
died, Paul moved back in with mom and Anissa 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
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,
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
On August 28th, 1976, Anissa was staying with her friend Helen at
2312 Littler Lane, in
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
1967. Although I love Jimmy Durante, the sight of him rubbing his bulbous
nose 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 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.