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Multiple Years / Anissa Jones
Anissa Jones was the first of a long line of child stars from the television era whose life spiralled downward after her acting career had ended. Jones first acted in a cereal commercial at age six in 1964. At age eight, in 1966, Jones was cast as Elizabeth (Buffy) Patterson-Davis in the sitcom Family Affair. Part of Buffy's persona were the amusing conversations she had with her doll, Mrs. Beasley. Mrs. Beasley dolls became popular toys. (Jones' tightly curled pigtails inspired Cindy Brady's similar hairdo on The Brady Bunch.) Family Affair went off the air in 1971 when Jones was 13. Jones commented she was glad the series ended so she no longer had to carry the doll. Although Jones was offered a teenage role in The Brian Keith Show, she turned it down to unsuccessfully seek movie roles. (In contrast, Jones' Family Affair co-star Johnny Whitaker worked regularly on television and in Disney movies for many years.) Jones enrolled in high school but dropped out before graduating. Her parents' nasty divorce cause a rift in her family. At one point Jones was working in a donut shop. When she turned 18 she was able to access her $180,000 in Family Affair earnings from a trust fund. Later that same year, on August 28, 1976, Jones died of a drug overdose at a house party. The coroner claimed it was one of the most severe overdoses he had ever encountered. Jones' brother also died of an overdose in 1984.