Monday, September 08, 2014

Family Affair: Triumph and Tragedy

Family Affair was a hit sitcom that aired on CBS from 1966-1971. It starred Brian Keith as Bill Davis, a wealthy man living in Manhattan. Sebastian Cabot played his distinguished English butler. Bill's brother and sister-in-law were killed in a car accident so he raised his 2 nieces and nephew. The kids moved in with him into his New York high rise apartment. The kids were the 6-year-old twins Buffy and Jody, played by Anissa Jones and Johnny Whitaker respectively. The 15-year-old niece was Cissy, played by Kathy Garver. The show lasted for 138 episodes. It was created by Don Fedderson, known for being the man behind My Three Sons. Family Affair was nominated for many Emmy awards, but never won. Many stars guested on the show such as Eve Plumb (The Brady Bunch), Vic Tayback (Alice), Jamie Farr (MASH), Leif Garrett and more.

Anissa Jones, who played the little girl, Buffy, was known for always having her doll with her. The doll was named Mrs. Beasley and the toy company Mattel turned it into a best selling product. Anissa had trouble overcoming her role as the twin girl with the doll. She auditioned for the role of Iris in the film Taxi Driver. This part eventually went to Jodie Foster. She tried out for the role of Reagan in The Exorcist, which went to Linda Blair. Jones' parents went through a tough divorce in 1965 and there was a custody battle over the kids. As a teen, she got into drugs and shoplifting. On her 18th birthday she got control of $180,000 from a trust fund that was her money from her acting career. Sadly, in 1976 at age 18, Anissa Jones died of a drug overdose. The medical examiner found cocaine, PCP, Quaaludes and Seconal in her system. Her brother died of a drug overdose in 1984 at age 24.

Tragedy once again struck the cast of Family Affair in 1997 when Brian Keith died of a self inflicted gunshot wound.

* Some information from and

Friday, September 05, 2014

CBS Sunday Morning: TV the Way it Should Be

There is a lot of trash on TV these days. But there are still a few gems. On the air since 1979, CBS Sunday Morning has survived for 35 years while other shows have fallen by the wayside. It's truly a magazine show, with a mix of news, human interest stories and plenty of entertainment. This show recognizes the importance of the arts and how they enrich our lives. Many of the stories look at actors, musicians, painters, dancers, writers and the like. Their collection of correspondents is impressive and they include Mo Rocca, Steve Hartman, Bill Geist, Tracy Smith, Serena Altschul, David Edelstein (film), and commentary by Ben Stein, Nancy Giles and Faith Salie. The distinctive trumpet theme which opens the show was a version by Doc Severinsen for many years. Now it is a recording by Wynton Marsalis. The show is 90 minutes in length so they can delve into subjects in detail, unlike most network shows. From 1979 to 1994, the show was hosted by Charles Kuralt. For the past 20 years the host has been Charles Osgood. Every week the show ends with a nature scene which has no music, no bells and whistles, just a restful segment with the natural sounds of the outdoors.

* Some information from

Thursday, September 04, 2014

Mike Douglas: Daytime Talk Titan

I recently bought a DVD looking back on the career of Mike Douglas called "Moments and Memories". From 1962-1982 his daytime talk show aired in syndication. In his 90 minute show he had 5,000 programs with 50,000 guests. Like Johnny Carson, he was someone who really listened to his guests and based his questions off the responses of the guests. Too many interviewers are glued to their notes rather than engaging in a conversation. He wanted his guests to shine even though the show bared his name. Stars on the retrospective mentioned how he did not have an ego that was out of control like many TV personalities.

A Navy man during the World War II era, Mike had a big break as a singer in 1945 on a radio show hosted by the singer/film actress Ginny Simms. She sang with Dinah Shore and Ella Fitzgerald and also appeared in a film with Abbott and Costello. Mike joined the Kay Kyser Orchestra as a singer. In 1950, Douglas was the singing voice of Prince Charming in the film "Cinderella". In 1966 he had a top 10 hit with the song "The Man in My Little Girl's Life".

From 1961-1965, his daytime talk show was based out of Cleveland, Ohio. From 1965-1978, the show's home was Philadelphia. For the final 4 years of the show, 1978-1982, the show was based out of Los Angeles. In 1967 the show was syndicated to 171 TV markets and was watched by 6 million viewers. Musical icons such as The Rolling Stones, James Brown, Kiss, Tony Bennett, Mel Torme and more appeared on the show. One unique aspect of the show was the fact that Douglas was joined by a celebrity co-host. Over the years they included stars such as John Lennon, Jackie Gleason, Brooke Shields, Jerry Lewis, Don Rickles, Red Buttons, Billy Crystal and more. Bill Cosby stated that he was "discovered" by Mike Douglas.

Mike Douglas died at age 86 in 2006 in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida.

* Some information from