ANISSA (BUFFY) JONES- A “FAMILY AFFAIR”
Although her talent was around for just a short time on the small screen, child star Anissa Jones’ legacy still remains. All a female baby boomer of the 1960’s would have to do to be reminded of her “Buffy” character is just to look in their old toy chest, and most would find their old Mrs. Beasley doll, spectacles and all, preserved neatly inside. Jones had the fame and fortune that any child star would have wanted in any generation, but, beyond her childhood years, Jones’ life was anything but a “family affair.” Born Mary Anissa Jones on March 11, 1958, in Lafayette, Indiana to John P. Jones and Mary (Tweel) Jones, the littlest Jones also had a younger brother named Paul. As soon as Jones was born, her family moved to Playa Del Rey, California, where at the age of six, Jones entered television screens through a cereal commercial.
It was in 1966 that CBS was casting for a new television show entitled “Family Affair,” and was looking for the ideal girl to fill the character of “Ava Elizabeth Buffy’ Patterson-Davis.” The show was to consist of a butler, his employer, and the employer’s nephew and nieces who came to live with him after they were orphaned. In walked Anissa Jones, and the rest is history. Other cast members included: Brian Keith, Johnnie Whitaker and Cathy Garver to round off the cast. The show was a super hit, and Jones was an automatic child star. As “Buffy” on the show, she carried a unique-looking doll called “Mrs. Beasley,” which was manufactured by Mattel, and became the most sought after doll in America. In 1969, Jones found time outside of her hectic “Family Affair” schedule to appear alongside Elvis Presley in “The Trouble with Girls” and on the TV show “To Rome with Love,” starring John Forsythe. When “Family Affair” ended in 1971, Jones auditioned and lost the role of “Regan” from the “Exorcist” to Linda Blair. Jones decided she had experienced enough of the entertainment industry, and now wanted to live a normal life, so she abandoned acting altogether and went on to further her education at Orville Wright Middle School and Westchester High School.
Jones’ family life had always been a tumultuous one, with her parents divorcing in 1965 and custody battles dragging out until 1973. Jones and younger brother, Paul, went on to live with their father, but a heart condition ended his life and Paul went to live with their mother, while Jones moved in with a friend. At one point, Jones was classified as a runaway because she was missing too much school and then ended up in juvenile hall. Once released, Jones’ life took even more of a nosedive. Jones delved into stealing and associated with a man named Allan Kovan who was big on drugs. In early 1976, Jones received her “Family Affair” trust fund, which totaled seventy-thousand dollars. Later in the year, Jones decided to share a residence with her brother and Kovan. Jones was heavily into drugs by this time, and on August 28, 1976, while staying at a friend’s place in Oceanside, California, Jones passed away in her sleep at the age of eighteen. Her last drug combination consisted of such substances as cocaine and PCP. The county coroner even announced that he had never viewed a drug overdose of this caliber. Jones’ remains were cremated, with her ashes then scattered into the Pacific Ocean at a later date.
Anissa Jones just wanted a happy, normal childhood, like much of the rest of the world. Instead, all she got was a chaotic little life that led into a drug-hazed, teen life. If only she could have had a more stable home life, we might be seeing a comeback on the screen of an adult Anissa Jones, one who came back to acting because she wanted to.