Dead child stars are always a fascination. Probably because on one level or another, we grew up with these people. Anissa was one of the first, 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.
First 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, from Playa Del Rey, CA, 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, and Mrs. Beasley played herself. Did that doll disturb anyone else? My buddy Mark pinpointed it: an old lady doll? Bizarre.
Anyway, after the show was cancelled, she was only 13, and decided she wanted out of the industry, to be more like "normal" kids. Her turbulent at best relationship with her stage mother and divorced father made her life anything but normal. I have to say that this story is much more complicated than I had known. She lived a life more insane than most screwed up adults I know.
Her mother lived at 100 Rees Street, in Playa Del Rey.
Here's another view of the house.
She attended both Orville Wright Junior High School
and Westchester High School.
My pal Steve Goldstein stopped by Anissa's childhood home, and found that she scratched her name into the cement outside, so Steve snapped away! Thanks Steve!
According to the E! special, she was on the outs with her mother, and she and her brother Paul moved in with her father in this apartment.
Her father died, Paul moved back in with mom, but 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 and would shit on you, from great heights.
She was released from prison in 1975, and had little of her money left, since her mother had control of it. The cost of living on the beach was hugely expensive, and her mother's job was seeing Anissa through her work, thus unable to make a career for herself. Anissa swallowed her pride, and took up a job at the Winchell's Donut Shop, on Manchester Blvd.
On her 18th birthday, she received her $70,000 trust fund from her Family Affair earnings, and she and her brother got an apartment together. She started seeing a guy named Allan Kovan, who was way into heavy drugs, and Anissa and her brother Paul got way into heavy drugs themselves.
On August 28th, 1976, Anissa was staying with her friend Helen at 2312 Littler Lane, in Oceanside, California.
Here's another 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, but 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. She was found, someone ran screaming to a nearby restaurant to get one of the others that left earlier... fascinating document.
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.
This photograph was supposedly taken the day before she died. Thanks again, Brian.
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 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. How very very sad.
Trivia: Anissa, along with Jimmy Durante, presented the Monkees with an Emmy for Best Comedy Series in 1967. Although I love Jimmy Durante, the sight of him rubbing his bulbous nose against Anissa's cherubic face, made me throw up in my mouth a little.
You can acquire Anissa's autopsy report here.
Someone sent me this a gajillion years ago, now I can finally delete it from my hard drive.
Other dead "Family Affair" actors include Brian Keith.
Brian Keith, aka "Unko Beeyo," or "the grump," as he was known on the show, blew his brains out in his Malibu Colony home, in June of 1997. He had cancer, and his daughter took her own life just a couple of months earlier, in the same fashion. God, that is horrible.
Thank you Steve Goldstein of "Beneath Los Angeles" for providing those photographs.
HIS funeral was held at Our Lady of Malibu Catholic Church, on June 29th, and was attended by Garver and Whitaker. His ashes are inurned at Westwood Memorial park.
Trivia: Supposedly, Susan Olsen (Cindy Brady) mimicked the Buffy look, when she auditioned for her role in The Brady Bunch.
Still More: Brian was the step-son of Peg Entwistle, the girl that jumped from the Hollywood sign.
Even more: Johnny Whitaker, the actor that played her twin brother Jody, was actually 2 years younger than Anissa.
Check out this site about Brian, HERE. Thanks to Findadeath friend Jerri for the link.