Anissa Jones – Short-lived Career and Short-lived Life

Celebrity:  Anissa Jones
Occupation:  Youngest Actress on TV Sitcom Family Affair



1970 (right)

She doesn’t look like much of a celebrity does she?  I mean can you believe once she was cute enough to be a child star? That’s one nasty shot. Then again, not too many of us look good in a photo booth. However. Anissa Jones was best known for her role as the adorable Buffy in the 1970’s series Family Affair. It had a decent run of 5 years before it tanked, leaving Jones without a career.  From the time she was 6, Anissa worked 7 days a week filming and promoting the program. Wow. Give the kid a break already. When she was 11, Anissa starred as Carol Bix opposite Elvis Presley in The Trouble with Girls. Anissa auditioned for the role of Regan in The Exorcist but lost the part to Linda Blair. Anissa was offered a role on The Brian Keith Show, which had a 2-season run but she was uninterested in TV sitcom work and she refused. To see Anissa in Family Affair click here.

Anissa decided to pursue her education (smart move). She attended Paseo Del Rey Grammar School, Orville Wright Middle School and Westchester High School. In 1973, Anissa went to live with her father, who was divorced her mother. Her father however died soon after and she moved in with a friend, and promptly began skipping school. Her mother reported her as a runaway and  she was sent to juvenile hall for several months. Thanks, Mommy Dearest.  To see an interview about Anissa Jones click here. Starts at 32 seconds.

That’s where it gets tawdry.

Anissa returned home after juvie, began doing drugs and shoplifting. Somehow these celebrities always manage to scrounge up a few bills to feed their habit even when they’re broke, yet they occasionally resort to thieving to achieve other items. Whatever. She dropped out of high school and took a job at a donut shop, as prestigious as Dana Plato and the dry cleaning business. At 18 she was given legal access to a $180,000 US Trust Fund and US Savings Bonds, mostly acquired from her earnings during Family Affair. Smart move on her parents’ part. Anissa moved into an apartment with her brother Paul and dated a man who was also involved with drugs. Wonderful. To see Johnny Whitaker on the Old Geraldo Rivera Show click here.

Accidental Drug Overdose:  On August 28, 1976, Anissa died of a drug overdose consisting of cocaine, PCP, seconal and quaaludes. The coroner who performed her autopsy claimed she died from one of the highest drug overdoses he had ever seen. In 1984 her brother Paul also died of a drug overdose.

Oddly, many people confused Anissa Jones with Susan Olsen, the youngest female Brady, “Cindy” on The Brady Bunch. To quell the drug overdose rumours and mistaken identity between herself and Anissa, Susan appeared on a number of talk shows imploring the public audience that she was not dead, but rather very much alive.  Perhaps the public was referring to her career.

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54 Responses to Anissa Jones – Short-lived Career and Short-lived Life

  1. Pingback: Abusing Children to Get that 15 Minutes of Shame … er, Fame « 40 years of faulty wiring

  2. Anonymous says:

    That’s Anissa on the left in the b/w photo booth shot. The kid on the right is her brother Paul.

  3. Helen says:

    When my mom came up to Canada, Family Affair was one of the earlier shows she saw and she found Buffy and Jody to be the most cute children on tv. I was saddened to hear that Anissa (Buffy) passed away. I didn’t know the whole story.

  4. Connie says:

    It is so sad in those days and now how parents try to live through their kids instead of just loving them.

    • Helen says:

      Yes. It is tough for child stars at times. They are only children but have to deal with so much. Up to this day there are so many stars who became addicted with alcohol and substances. Many of the substances were prescribed. More doctors and pharmacists should be monitored.

      • Scred says:

        Dr. Moshos was the local Dr. Feelgood who was writing $15 prescriptions for area kids in order to make money for his family before his own death 4 months after Anissa’s. She was one of his ‘clients’. Moshos was indicted for Anissa’s death via a white envelope near Anissa’s body; the envelope had Moshos’ address stamp, the drug type and “Jones” written on it. The drug was found in the toxicology report. Anissa’s mom sued Moshos’ estate for $400,000; the case was judged at $79,500 in 1979.

      • marilyn4ever says:

        Good information. Thanks.

    • Anonymous says:

      Yes. She probably would have been. I now and then wonder how she would have been.

  5. c.m.w says:

    i was about 10 years old in ’76 when anissa died iremember watching family affair growing up and i loved it.anissa was such a cute girl.its very very sad that her life was cut so short. we willmiss you anissa always and forever. c.m.w down south

    • Anonymous says:

      I was also in my tenth year in 1976. When my mom came to Canada (50 years this May), Family Affair was one of the programmes she watched and she thought that Buffy and Jody were the cutest children on tv. Looking back at the reruns they were indeed cute. It is a pity that sweet, cute, innocent children end up having difficulties.

  6. Pingback: oddly many people confused anissa jones with susan olsen the youngest » Images Search

  7. Anonymous says:

    So saddened by the passing of Anissa…have been watching old family affair reruns and decided to google her and find out the whole story and now my heart is so overwhelmed by all she had to go through…she died way too young…I loved that show.

    • Anonymous says:

      I used to watch the reruns years ago then the reruns returned. I had no idea she was going through so much. On the set she appeared so happy. That’s a shame.

    • Anonymous says:

      When my mom came up to Canada in the early 60’s Family Affair was one of the shows she watched and she and Jodi were so cute. They acted innocently. I too was sad to hear about her passing.

  8. mdk says:

    She was a cute little kid and grew up to be a pretty young woman. Too bad she didn’t take up the Brian Keith Show offer, perhaps it would have helped her transition to young adult roles and continue her career. But the saddest part is that she was obviously troubled and sought solace in drugs, always a huge mistake.

    • Anonymous says:

      Yes, it is unfortunate that one turns to drugs for comfort. She would have been good as a celebrity today.

      • Anonymous says:

        I grew up with Anissa, & can tell you that she didn’t do drugs for “comfort”, or because she was ” miserable”, but because we ALL did drugs back then, mostly thanks to our rock star heroes, we thought it was cool. It was fun at first, & the only solace in her dying so young; is that she was still having fun when she died, & didn’t have to go thru the misery of actual addiction, like those of our friends, (the ones that didn’t die, & there were plenty of us who did). Because it”s hell on earth, living as an addict. She died before she knew what hit her.

      • Helen says:

        Did you know her personally? How was she like as a teen? I was really sorry to hear that she died of overdose. She was so cute in the show, Family Affairs. I saw the reruns because I myself is in my mid 40’s.


      • aitchcs says:

        Jan: She may not have consciously done drugs for “comfort” but with her Father dying at a time when she really needed him and her long standing difficult relationship with a Mother trying to “live through her” I’m sure the drugs were a way to self medicate for Anissa and some of her other druggie friends. I know bc I am in her age group and went through the same thing myself.

      • Helen says:

        That’s so sad what happened to Anissa. She looked as though she had promise. I wonder what she would have been doing now? Too bad she couldn’t turn to talk to someone in confidence.

  9. Anonymous says:

    she would have been perfect for a reality show.

  10. Wingwondr says:

    The 70’s was a strange time for american teenagers in general. The 60’s was the start of the
    youthful drug revolution, the 70’s however was the pinnacle and the primary reason why our government declared war on drugs. One of the best decisions I have ever made was not to
    exceed two beers and a joint at any party and not be pressured into doing more. That decision coupled the new concept of CPR the I learned in Health class not only kept me alive but saved the lives of several of my female friends who would not be still alive today. Mary Anissa had no one
    like that, her hangouts were the typical selfish no limit or responsibility teenagers and young adults. Even though the 1970’s was the Women’s revolution, most of the young ladies still had major esteem and self-image issues and stood up to peer pressure about as well as a wet noodle.
    Anissa was the victim of an at the time ignorant industry that had a real bad habit of type-casting
    people, a practice that damaged many a child star careers. The Disney girls strategy of when they become near adults exposing themselves in public is a sound one. It embarrasses the industry into recognizing them as adults, more power to them. I was a year younger than Anissa
    and though she was hot, so her death was very sad, there was great potential left in her.
    If only she could have gotten past the child/adult barrier. Thanks Mary Anissa Jones for giving
    us Buffy.

    • Helen says:

      I can see that Mary Anissa’s death impacted you. I don’t know the actress but I was really sad to hear that she died. At first I didn’t know what she died of. Yes, the 60’s were turbulent years and the 70’s were revolutionary. There was lots of issues in the 70’s, sexism, racism, etc. My mom came up to Canada in 1962 (before she was married and I was born) and Family Affairs was one of the few tv shows she watched and she found Buffy and Jody to be the cutest. I saw the reruns in the 70’s and the reruns came back again a few years ago. I still see Buffy and Jody as adorable. Many child stars back then acted in innocent roles on tv but in real life they were troubled.


  11. Pia123 says:

    I watched “Family Affair” when I was a teenager in Germany (it was on TV there and the title was “Unser Onkel Bill”) I loved it. Now I am living in the US in Indiana (where Anissa Jones was born) and I am watching it again in original language. I still love it. She was such a good actress. I am sad that she died so young, but she will remind alive as “Buffy” in Family Affair for ever.

  12. Jane Hazard says:

    i HAVE BEEN WATCHING METV AND AM SO HAPPY TO SEE METV PLAYING THE OLD EPISODES OF FAMILY AFFAIR. I DID NOT KNOW UNTIL TODAY, 1.17.2013, THAT BUFFFY (ANNISA JONES) wa dead. After 37 years, I did not know and am very sad today. I love that little girl. I was like that little girl in so many ways. I was born in 1959 and am so sad at this news. God Bless her, little Buffy. I will love you always and forever.

  13. Rob says:

    Anissa was my first childhood celebrity crush. I was 3 when I first saw “Family Affair”, it was the first episode, was probably early 1970. By then Anissa was 12 but she was 8 in the episode. I fell in love with her instantly, so much that shyness got the best of me and I was hiding behind furniture, sneaking peeks of her on TV and darting back. After that, there were a few episodes and nothing more, and it wasn’t until I read about her death in a book but forgot about it. Only lately, when I read about her tormented existence did I really start to understand and mourn. If only she had survived her teens, she would’ve been a terrific person. I’m 46 now and the memories all come back, fresh as ever. She was so unbearably adorable, so cute…and she’s gone. Thanks for nothing, Hollywood, for treating her like yesterday’s trash. Rest in perfect peace, Anissa, I’ll always remember you as “Buffy”, wish I knew you as Anissa.

    • Helen says:

      I am also 46 plus now. My mom came up to Canada in 1962 and Family Affair was one of the programmes she used to watch and she thought that Buffy and Jody were the cutest children on tv. My mom and grandmother said she died and that was way back when I heard so. At the time I was not aware of celebrities’ lives. It was much later on I read about her death and how it happened and I was so sad because I thought she was so pretty. I heard she died in hospital from medication not realizing she was on substances. I couldn’t imagine a sweet innocent face going on substances and alcohol until I read her life story. What a shame! She would be now the same age as one of my cousins now. There were many children in Anissa’s age group that were in show biz. Children were so pressured into acting and I don’t think they had schooling along with that. By the time they stop acting there isn’t much for them to do. Mom was trying to explain that to me that education is important.

  14. Marie says:

    It is so sad that she had to resort to drugs. She was so cute! Such a wasted life 😦

  15. aitchcs says:

    Does anyone know the cause of her Father’s death. Probably affected her deeply and this is never discussed. What happened to the Mother? Any living relatives?

  16. Anonymous says:

    She was a bully and a Bitch, I went to Westchester High. She stole my sister in laws towel from her on the beach.

  17. Anonymous says:

    She did and she was.
    Why would I make that up?

    • Helen says:

      I never said she didn’t do it. In fact I said she was high at one time. I wasn’t there. I’m just surprised that she would do that because she looked so sweet. People do change as I know. She is dead so I avoid speaking ill of her. We all have our faults. What made her become a bully and was she threatening?

    • aitchcs says:

      Stealing a towel is a typical prank that kids would have done at that age and time.

  18. Kerri Higgins says:

    I wasnt there, but wasn’t she not even 5 ft tall and 85 lbs with a soaked swiped beach towel wrapped around her? Be tough but not impossible to be a bully. And her over accomodation to friends and brother doesn’t scream bitch to me. Poor little soul either way. Hope she is in a better place.

  19. Mary Ann says:

    So sad that such a talented, young girl had to die so soon. She was a cute, talented young lady…with a lot to offer. When they say, “Live your life to the fullest”….that is so true. Drugs is bad, so many try it…..its not a good quality of life to be on them…..
    Mary Ann

  20. Mary Ann says:

    P.S. I feel so bad cause it didn’t sound like she had the happiest of life….but from what I read…she did do some wonderful things….pretty commendable sense her life was kind of a sad one….she did still achieve a lot of things….that’s why its so sad she had to die that way…….poor thing……

    • Helen says:

      Amen to that! Drugs are indeed very bad. I wonder how she would have been now.
      She looked happy on tv. It must have been hard covering it up.

      • Anonymous says:

        Hi Helen, it sure must have been hard to cover up an unhappy childhood…..that’s why I give her so much credit for doing so well professionally….I so wish things had turned out differently for her and she ended up alive and happy.

        Mary Ann

  21. Anonymous says:

    Well I for one wouldn’t cut anyone down in her situation…… don’t know who your talking about……but anyway….so be it……just feel bad that her life was cut short.

    Mary Ann

  22. marilyn4ever says:

    tsk tsk. Calm down. Just because “the dead” are dead doesn’t mean they aren’t deserving of criticism. Tell me: do you speak well of Hitler?

    • Helen says:

      I don’t blame Anisa as such but the doctor who prescribed the drugs.

      • helthnut says:

        What doctor prescribes cocaine? She could have gotten that stuff off the street.

      • Helen says:

        I was thinking about that. I was surprised to read that the doctor prescribed certain drugs. Maybe I misread. However she got the drugs, that was very unfortunate. I used to think she was one of the cutest little girls on tv. I wonder how she would have grown up to be?

  23. ian says:

    I have recently watched (I can’t get enough of it!!!!!) her on the Dick Cavett Show with Sammy Davis Jr and she’s as sweet and adorable a kid/person as I’ve ever seen, and just so cute!!!!!!!!!! Sammy says how adorable she is, and she’s so smart, witty and funny. She really liked Elvis after working with and meeting him on the movie, The Trouble with Girls, and Anissa was really appreciative of how thoughtful Elvis was, as one time her brother Paul was on set, and there was nothing happening between takes, and Elvis noticed that he was bored, so he asked him if he wanted to play catch with a football….Anissa thought, and Paul that Elvis was a great guy!!!!!

  24. ian says:

    I’m making a video of a song, Girl (she really liked Davy Jones), and hope to post it to you tube as a tribute to Anissa soon, if I can ever finish editing it!!!!!!!!!!

  25. Hank Ternove says:

    So sad , she must have been crying out for love as a young teenager but that the way it is in Hollywood Calfornia they seem to fuck young people’s minds up I wish I knew her when I was that age so sad

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