|Created by||Edmund L. Hartmann|
|Directed by||Charles Barton|
William D. Russell
|Theme music composer||Frank De Vol|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||5|
|No. of episodes||138|
|Running time||25 minutes|
|Production||Don Fedderson Productions|
Family Affair Company
CBS Television Distribution (domestic)
NBCUniversal Television Distribution (internationally)
|Original release||September 12, 1966 -|
March 4, 1971
Family Affair is an American sitcom that aired on CBS from September 12, 1966, to March 4, 1971. The series explored the trials of well-to-do engineer and bachelor Bill Davis (Brian Keith) as he attempted to raise his brother's orphaned children in his luxury New York City apartment. Davis' traditional English gentleman's gentleman, Mr. Giles French (Sebastian Cabot), also had adjustments to make as he became saddled with the responsibility of caring for 15-year-old Cissy (Kathy Garver) and the five-year-old twins, Jody (Johnny Whitaker) and Buffy (Anissa Jones).
Indiana native William "Bill" Davis is a successful civil engineer who develops major projects all over the world. A wealthy bachelor, Bill lives in a large apartment in Manhattan's Upper East Side, and has a British manservant, Giles French (often called "Mr. French" or just "French"), as his valet.
A year prior to the series, Bill's brother Bob and his wife Mary were killed in a car crash in Indiana, leaving their three children (teenager Cissy, and younger twins Jody and Buffy) orphaned. Bill's other relatives believe that he is the one most capable of supporting them, and so the three are sent to live with him in New York. Consequently, Bill's solitary lifestyle gets turned upside-down.
Initially, "Uncle Bill" is none too anxious to have the three youngsters living with him, but he soon grows fond of them. Mr. French, who effectively becomes a nanny in addition to his valet duties, is also flustered by the erratic situation at first, but he too develops an affinity for them. Over time, the bachelor, the butler, and the three orphans find themselves becoming a close-knit family.
When Sebastian Cabot became ill, Giles's brother, Nigel "Niles" French (John Williams) was introduced. He worked for the Davis family for nine episodes in 1967, while Giles was said to be touring with the Queen in the Commonwealth countries. In the final season, Bill hired a part-time housekeeper, Emily Turner (Nancy Walker), to assist Mr. French.
Various other characters were also seen regularly, including several acquaintances of Mr. French's who are in service (most notably Miss Faversham, played by Heather Angel), colleagues of Bill's, and friends of Cissy's.
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As Don Fedderson's other program, My Three Sons, had done for Fred MacMurray, Family Affair used a 60-day production schedule to accommodate Brian Keith. All of his scenes for the season would be shot in two 30-day blocks, while his co-stars would fill in after the actor's work was completed. This enabled Fedderson to harness actors like Keith and MacMurray into television commitments, while still enabling each to make motion pictures. As a result, each season had a single director for each of the 30-odd scripts.
Due to the popularity of the series with girls, Buffy's doll, "Mrs. Beasley" (which she often carried with her), was marketed as a Mattel talking toy in the United States. Mattel went on to produce two additional dolls, as well, patterned after Buffy: the "Tutti"-sized Buffy and larger "Small Talk Buffy" (talking doll), both of which featured accompanying miniature Mrs. Beasley dolls.
The theme song was composed by veteran television composer Frank DeVol. The opening featured credits appearing over a kaleidoscopic view of a multicolored array of gems and precious stones, suggesting "family jewels".
Most of the episodes in the fifth season opened with either Sebastian Cabot or the twins, saying, "Good evening, so nice of you to join us." and closing the episode saying, "It's been very good of you to watch and we do hope to see you again next week on Family Affair."
As discussed by Kathy Garver on the final season's DVD features, the show's cast suffered several deaths, most of which came prematurely: Anissa Jones (who played Buffy) died of a drug overdose (of sleeping pills) in 1976, aged 18.Sebastian Cabot (who played Mr. French) died of a stroke in 1977, aged 59.Brian Keith (who played Uncle Bill) committed suicide by gunshot in 1997, aged 75, two months after the suicide of his daughter, and himself having lived with cancer for some time.
|Season||Episodes||Originally aired||Rank||Rating||Tied with|
|First aired||Last aired|
|1||30||September 12, 1966||May 15, 1967||14||22.6||The Dean Martin Show|
|2||30||September 11, 1967||April 8, 1968||4||25.5||Gunsmoke|
|3||28||September 23, 1968||April 14, 1969||5||25.2||N/A|
|4||26||September 25, 1969||April 2, 1970||5||24.2||N/A|
|5||24||September 17, 1970||March 4, 1971||N/A||N/A||N/A|
|DVD name||Ep. #||Release date||Special features / notes|
|Season One||30||June 27, 2006||
|Season Two||30||November 21, 2006||
|Season Three||28||March 27, 2007||
|Season Four||26||October 30, 2007||
|Season Five||24||February 26, 2008||
|The Complete Series||138||November 25, 2008||
|1967||Emmy Awards||Outstanding Writing Achievement in Comedy||Edmund L. Hartmann
For episode "Buffy"
|Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Comedy||William D. Russell||Nominated|
|Outstanding Continued Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Comedy Series||Brian Keith||Nominated|
|1968||Emmy Awards||Outstanding Continued Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Comedy Series||Brian Keith||Nominated|
|Outstanding Continued Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Comedy Series||Sebastian Cabot||Nominated|
|Outstanding Comedy Series||Edmund L. Hartmann||Nominated|
|1969||Emmy Awards||Outstanding Continued Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Comedy Series||Brian Keith||Nominated|
|Outstanding Comedy Series||Edmund L. Hartmann||Nominated|
|1971||Golden Globe Awards||Best Television Series - Musical or Comedy||Family Affair||Nominated|
|2004||TV Land Awards||Best Broadcast Butler||Sebastian Cabot||Won|
|2010||Young Artist Awards||Former Child Star "Lifetime Achievement" Award||Kathy Garver||Honored|
A remake of Family Affair aired on The WB from September 12, 2002 to March 13, 2003. The remake was produced by Sid & Marty Krofft Pictures, Pariah Films, and Turner Television. Gary Cole played the role of "Uncle Bill" Davis and Tim Curry played Mr. Giles French. Fifteen episodes were produced, including the one-hour pilot, but only thirteen episodes were aired by The WB.
Merchandising efforts centered on Anissa Jones' "Buffy" character. Several books were published, including the 1970 hardback Family Affair: Buffy Finds a Star by Gladys Baker Bond and Buffy's Cookbook. There were dolls (Mattel's "Small Talk Buffy" and Mrs. Beasley, Buffy's doll on the show) and various other toys.
A Mrs. Beasley doll, with her glasses missing, appears in the music video for the song California Tuffy by the Geraldine Fibbers.