Family Affair was a 30 minute family drama series on CBS about a rich bachelor living in a Fifth Avenue penthouse apartment in Manhattan. He had the classic British "Gentleman's Gentleman", Mr. French, to see after his every need! He had beautiful women seeking his attentions by the score! He had everything except responsibilities ... that is ... until his two Nieces and Nephew turned up at his door! Their parents were both killed in an accident and their future life was either an orphanage or "Uncle Bill's" penthouse. Of course, the carefree playboy was in no rush to give up that lifestyle, but after spending some time with the children, he found that there are other pleasures in life too! A truly heart-warming, family-oriented series.
Family Affair CastBrian Keith ............... "Uncle" Bill Davis
Sebastian Cabot ........... Mr. Giles French
Johnny Whitaker ........... Jonathan "Jody" Patterson-Davis
Anissa Jones .............. Elizabeth "Buffy" Patterson-Davis
Kathy Garver .............. Catherine "Cissy" Patterson-Davis
Heather Angel ............. Miss Faversham (1966-1971)
John Williams ............. Nigel "Niles" French (1967)
Nancy Walker .............. Emily Turner (1970-1971)
Family Affair Trivia
Anissa Jones broke her leg in April of 1969 so to allow her to continue appearing on Family Affair, the writers wrote a script where Buffy broke her leg. That was episode #95 during the fourth season titled, "What's Funny About A Broken Leg?".
Sebastian Cabot didn't really care for the role as Giles French when he read the script for the pilot. He felt that the stiff upper-lipped English butler would be a boring part to play. He agreed to do the pilot only because the money was very good. After Family Affair was picked up as a series he actually did get bored with the role very early on and even once said that both he and Brian Keith were exhausted with their roles for the final two seasons. Both of them found it difficult to force themselves to go to the studio.
Anissa Jones played the cute little girl Buffy on Family Affair and audiences simply loved her! Although Buffy was six years old, Anissa was actually 8 1/2 years old when the series began and just one week short of 13 years old when the last episode aired. Family Affair's producer, "Don Fedderson" insisted that Buffy should never get older so Anissa was ordered to bind her chest tightly, dress like a six-year-old, and carry her famed Mrs. Beasley doll in as many scenes as possible. We can only guess what that did to the self-esteem of a girl entering her teenage years!
By the way, the Mrs. Beasley doll was such a huge hit with audiences that it was marketed to the public and was a huge sales success even two years after Family Affair left primetime TV! Many parents probably associated the perfect little girl on television with the doll and dreamed of duplicated that combination at home.
In addition to producing Family Affair, Don Fedderson also produced another series about a household with no mother figure titled, "My Three Sons".
Sebastian Cabot fell ill during season one and actor John Williams took over for eight episodes as Butler in his role as Niles French, the brother of Giles French. Giles absence was accounted for by saying that he had been called to London for an audience with the Queen of England!
Family Affair was canceled when CBS decided to cancel all of their shows that featured small town settings and/or families. They felt that audiences didn't want that type of programming any longer, opting to go for more adult oriented sitcoms. Family Affair along with many other victims of that decision was still doing pretty well in the ratings when canceled.
ABC came very close to moving Family Affair to their network but decided against it because they felt it was too similar to their hit series, "The Brady Bunch".
Unfortunately, some members of the Family Affair cast met with an early demise with two passing under unpleasant circumstances. Sebastian Cabot had a terminal stroke at 59 years of age. Anissa Jone was found dead at age 18 from a drug overdose. While Brian Keith lived to age 75, he took his own life by shooting himself. It is somewhat understandable why he felt the need to do this as he had been suffering from terminal cancer for quite some time. To make matters even much worse, his daughter had also taken her own life just two months earlier!
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