‘Family Affair’: Buffy Actress Anissa Jones Had a Broken Leg That Was Written Into the Show

by Suzanne Halliburton
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Family Affair producers discovered that even in the land of make believe, you can’t always hide everything.

So when Anissa Jones broke her leg in a playground accident, writers added a broken leg for Buffy, Jones’ character. That’s why Buffy was seen walking on crutches and sporting a cast. The episode, which ran in November 1969, was called “What’s Funny About a Broken Leg?”

Buffy thought nothing was funny about her injury. She hurt her leg while she was playing games with her friends. The family tried to cheer her up, but it didn’t work. Buffy wanted to go to the circus, but Uncle Bill told her she couldn’t go because of her leg. But Uncle Bill saved the day and cheered Buffy up immensely when he brought some of the circus acts to perform at their apartment building.

The same folks who created My Three Sons brought the TV world Family Affair. The series ranked among the top five most popular shows in the country in three of the five seasons that it aired between 1966-70.

Buffy Was a Fan Favorite On Family Affair

And no doubt, Buffy was a fan favorite.

The show told the story of how a worldly bachelor named Bill Davis (played by Brian Keith) took in his nephew and two nieces after their parents died in a car wreck in Indiana. Cissy (Kathy Garver) was the 15-year-old big sister. Buffy and Jody (Johnny Whitaker) were in elementary school. Uncle Bill also had a valet named Mr. French, who was played by Sebastian Cabot. Mr. French, who was a very proper British butler, then had to take on the duties of nanny.

Buffy almost always wore her hair in two curly pigtails. She carried around a doll named Mrs. Beasley. Mattel created a Mrs. Beasley doll for all little girls to carry around. And eventually, the American toymaker created a doll named “Talking Buffy.”

But Anissa Jones led a troubled life, even during Family Affair. Her parents went through a nasty divorce. The judge awarded custody of Jones and her brother to their father. But the father died months later of a heart attack.

After Family Affair ended, Jones said she wanted to only work on movies. But her career didn’t go very far. She wanted the role on The Exorcist, but the director didn’t think the actress who played cute little Buffy would play well with audiences if she was possessed by the devil. Linda Blair got the role. Jones turned down the opportunity to audition for Taxi Driver. Jodie Foster won the role, which helped launched her career.

Jones was a runaway. She was arrested for shoplifting and she spent months in juvenile detention. After she was released, she was embarrassed if fans recognized her from Family Affair.

When Jones turned 18 in 1976, she came into the money that had been set aside in a trust. It gave her financial independence. But she could never recapture the cute innocence she had in Family Affair. Six weeks after her 18th birthday, Jones died of a drug overdose. The coroner ruled her death accidental.

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