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Family Affair: Uncle Bill, Uncle Bill!


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#1

bobbyhill

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Posted Mar 19, 2012 @ 9:55 PM

I don't see a thread for this classic. Now that MeTV is showing Family Affair in the mornings, I eat breakfast every day with Buffy and Jody, Cissy, Uncle Bill, Uncle Bill's hairpiece, and most importantly, Mr. French. The show is actually not as bad as I remember -- it's one of those mild sitcoms that sometimes makes you smile but rarely makes you laugh.
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#2

oceanblue

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Posted Mar 19, 2012 @ 11:45 PM

I wish I had MeTV. I liked this show when I was a kid. Uncle Bill wore a hairpiece????
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#3

magicdog

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Posted Mar 19, 2012 @ 11:45 PM

it's one of those mild sitcoms that sometimes makes you smile but rarely makes you laugh.


I think that's the charm of this show. It's not all about the silly situations and laugh out loud antics, but the things we laugh at everyday when dealing with normal situations.

Not to mention there were episodes in which a convenient happy ending wasn't in the cards (such as the friend of Buffy's played by Eve Plumb) who was dying of [leukemia].

Even the series premise itself was dark, as you had three siblings who lost their parents but couldn't remain together in one household until Uncle Bill took them all in.

Uncle Bill's hairpiece


Hee! Having grown up watching the show in syndicated reruns, I'd never noticed. It wasn't until recently, that I'd caught a few eps on HD and noticed it clear as day! Gotta love the evolution of resolution.
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#4

maraleia

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Posted Mar 20, 2012 @ 10:55 AM

At the end of the series they kept the twin's ages vague but by the end of shooting Anissa was 13 and Johnny was 11. Anissa hated the fact that she had to keep Mrs. Beasley for so long and had to have her hair in pigtails the entire time.

I feel so bad for Anissa.
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#5

kemon

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Posted Mar 20, 2012 @ 11:21 AM

I felt bad for Anissa in that she died so young. The coroner who examined Ms. Jones reported she had died from one of the most severe drug overdoses he had ever seen. She had PCP, cocaine, quaaludes and seconal in her system. I always wondered if someone helped her to ingest some of those drugs such as putting something in her drink without her knowledge. Her brother also died of a drug overdose years later. Tragic.

What is also tragic was the suicide of Brian Keith a few months after the suicide of his daughter. He was dealing with the pain of lung cancer and depression, no doubt which was heightened after his daughter killed herself.

I remember Mr. Keith's performance in one of my favorite movies, "The Parent Trap." I found him to be such a loveable, warm, kind man in that movie - very similar to the part of Uncle Bill.
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#6

Angeltoes

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Posted Mar 20, 2012 @ 12:00 PM

Uncle Bill wore a hairpiece????

Noooo, say it isn't so!! He was a rugged man's man....mmmmm. He's the only good thing for me about Mr. Angeltoes' obsession with westerns. He shows up in a lot of them.

I remember Mr. Keith's performance in one of my favorite movies, "The Parent Trap."

That had one of the most sexually charged scenes I've ever seen in a kids movie when the parents finally admitted to each other how much they each had loved and missed the other one. I thought I was going to need a cigarette when they were finished.
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#7

bobbyhill

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Posted Mar 20, 2012 @ 12:17 PM

Here is a story about Brian Keith's hairpiece in the Parent Trap. I'm not sure I believe the story; it sounds made-up. But I do believe he wore a hairpiece. Mr. French's beard, however, was real. Remember when Jody tried to cut some hairs from it when Mr. French was asleep? I think it was on a dare.

Edited by bobbyhill, Mar 20, 2012 @ 12:18 PM.

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#8

Runningwild

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Posted Mar 20, 2012 @ 12:56 PM

I loved this show. So glad to see a thread for it. I wish I had MeTV.
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#9

Inquisitionist

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Posted Mar 20, 2012 @ 1:09 PM

Even as a 10-year-old in 1966, I rolled my eyes at Uncle Bill's romantic conquests. Never found Brian Keith very attractive, rug or no rug.

I do recall how shocking Anissa Jones' death by overdose was in 1976. Sounds like she had a pretty rough time from when the show ended in 1971 until then: father died, had to move back with shrewish mother, couldn't transition out of the "child actor" phase. Once she came into her Family Affair trust fund at age 18 (which totaled almost $200,000 in 1968 dollars, comparable to about $1.2 million today), she got an apartment with her younger brother and partied hard. It may be folklore, but the local coroner supposedly said that he had never seen an overdose so massive.
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#10

bobbyhill

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Posted Mar 20, 2012 @ 1:25 PM

I saw Kathy Garver (Cissy) last October at the Castro Theater in San Francisco. She appeared there with Patty McCormack for a tribute to the film "The Bad Seed," in which Kathy had played one of the classmates. As part of the evening's entertainment, Kathy judged a "Miss Bad Seed" contest in which male and female contestants dressed up as the title character. She seemed very gracious and happy to be there.
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#11

OSM Mom

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Posted Mar 20, 2012 @ 3:19 PM

I loved this show. So glad to see a thread for it. I wish I had MeTV.


THIS! I always had to sneak watching this. My parents hated it with a passion.
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#12

kemon

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Posted Mar 20, 2012 @ 3:22 PM

It may be folklore, but the local coroner supposedly said that he had never seen an overdose so massive.

I commented on that above in my post. I don't think it is folklore. I do recall hearing on the news the mention of the coroner and the several different amount of drugs in Anissa's system and the question being asked as to why one would have ingested so many different drugs. A subsequent autopsy ruled her death a suicide.

So, was Brian Keith the Donald Trump of the 60's or what? I have to be honest and never once thought he was wearing a toupee. I grew up in the late 60's so maybe being young had to do with the fact that I didn't take notice or didn't care? Even now as an adult, I never thought he was wearing a toupee. Of course I have not watched Mr. Keith in every single movie he has ever done, maybe it is obvious in some roles? I am so going to check out his hair.

Edited by kemon, Mar 20, 2012 @ 3:24 PM.

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#13

CobbSalad

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Posted Mar 20, 2012 @ 3:46 PM

I enjoyed watching Family Affair during its original run when I was a child, however watching some of the episodes years later on FX I realized how unreal the setting was - Buffy and Jody's rooms were always neat as a pin (how many kids did you know who had a room that neat all the time?) and it always seemed like Uncle Bill never had a problem getting a date, each time it was a different woman if I remember correctly. Toward the end of the series run, I was surprised at the time to learn how old Anissa Jones was then (she was older than me) - then seeing the earlier episodes and how little she looked, but always dressing pretty much the same. How sad.

Edited by CobbSalad, Mar 20, 2012 @ 3:47 PM.

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#14

Inquisitionist

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Posted Mar 20, 2012 @ 4:12 PM

Anissa was tiny at the time of her death as well. According to the coroner's report, she was 4'9" tall and weighed 81 pounds.

Buffy and Jody's rooms were always neat as a pin (how many kids did you know who had a room that neat all the time?)

Didn't most TV kids (Beaver and Wally, Opie, Ritchie on TDVDS) have pretty neat rooms? But growing up in the 1960s, I didn't find this so unrealistic. Bedrooms were primarily for sleeping. Our toys (which were far fewer than kids typically have today) were in other rooms.

I had never heard the names Cissy, Buffy or Jody before this show. :-)
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#15

bobbyhill

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Posted Mar 20, 2012 @ 4:38 PM

Buffy and Jody's rooms were always neat as a pin (how many kids did you know who had a room that neat all the time?)

Towards the end of the series, they had a housekeeper played by Nancy Walker, so maybe she cleaned their rooms. And cleaned up their messes using Bounty, the quicker-picker-upper.
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#16

prairiegal

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Posted Mar 20, 2012 @ 5:01 PM

I'm so loving that there's a thread for this show!
Born in 1960, so this show was right in my wheelhouse when it premiered:A girl my age with a doll, a brother, and a cool Uncle.What else do you need? I remember watching, first run, the episode featuring Eve Plumb and Buffy's wish to give her a nice Christmas. I recall asking my Mom why Eve was having her Christmas early and my Mom responded with "she'll be having her Christmas in heaven". Pretty deep stuff for a 7 year old. But it was handled well, especially the scene when Bill hears Buffy crying and goes to her room to comfort her, realizing that Buffy's known all along that Eve was dying.
About Brian Keith(or Uncle Beel, as Jody would say), if he had a rug, it was a damm good one. I never got that from looking at him at all. And I agree with Angeltoes, Mr Keith was ruggedly handsome and seemed so kind. And The Parent Trap scene? Hot stuff. Don't even discuss that mess of a remake with me..
Still a proud owner of a Mrs Beasley doll...

Edited by prairiegal, Mar 20, 2012 @ 5:03 PM.

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#17

Homily

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Posted Mar 20, 2012 @ 6:01 PM

I haven't seen this show in years! Loved it back in the day. I never had a Mrs Beasley back then but a few years ago my mother gave me one (they are cool re-makes and the doll is voiced by Cheryl Ladd).

I really wanted a big sister like Cissie - she was cool.
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#18

CobbSalad

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Posted Mar 20, 2012 @ 6:21 PM

Didn't most TV kids (Beaver and Wally, Opie, Ritchie on TDVDS) have pretty neat rooms? But growing up in the 1960s, I didn't find this so unrealistic. Bedrooms were primarily for sleeping. Our toys (which were far fewer than kids typically have today) were in other rooms.


True, yet the Davis' home seemed a bit too clean but I guess Mr. French did an expert job. The first time I saw a 'true' kid's bedroom (at least in my opinion) shown on the screen was during the movie Close Encounters of the Third Kind - that room was a disaster area.

Towards the end of the series, they had a housekeeper played by Nancy Walker, so maybe she cleaned their rooms. And cleaned up their messes using Bounty, the quicker-picker-upper.


LOL!
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#19

oceanblue

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Posted Mar 20, 2012 @ 6:59 PM

Nancy Walker? I missed that. I barely acknowledge the faux Mr. French.
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#20

prairiegal

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Posted Mar 20, 2012 @ 9:38 PM

Uncle Bill must have been a hella good, and well paid, engineer. That swanky NY apartment had four bedrooms-Bill's, French's, one for Jody and one (shared) for Cissy and Buffy. So until the kids showed up, that must have been a really swinging pad.
I realize this is heresy, but Johnny Whittaker was a terrible child actor, even when he was little. I don't mind the "Uncle Beel" or "Mither Fwench" as much as the fact that he SHOUTED ALL HIS LINES. And don't forget the episode where he "sang" that toe-tapper "Every Little Boy Can Be Pwesident". Anissa Jones, on the other hand,was pretty darn natural and believable, and what a cutie she was.

Edited by prairiegal, Mar 20, 2012 @ 9:38 PM.

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#21

bobbyhill

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Posted Mar 20, 2012 @ 10:10 PM

Nancy Walker? I missed that. I barely acknowledge the faux Mr. French.

Her character was named Emily and she came in the last season. She used to call Mr. French "Frenchy." You can imagine how much he liked that.

On MeTV, they just got through with the faux Mr. French episodes, much to my relief. I had never seen them. Faux Mr. French is just as stuffy as real Mr. French, but you don't sense an inner teddy bear like you do with real Mr. French, and his exasperation isn't as comic.

I realize this is heresy, but Johnny Whittaker was a terrible child actor

I've been noticing that in the reruns. Anissa is really a lot better.
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#22

midwestmusician

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Posted Mar 21, 2012 @ 10:04 AM

That swanky NY apartment had four bedrooms-Bill's, French's, one for Jody and one (shared) for Cissy and Buffy.


I may be mistaken, but I was wondering if Bill originally had a den that was made over into a room for Jody.
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#23

Sarcastico

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Posted Mar 21, 2012 @ 10:26 AM

if he had a rug, it was a damm good one.


In the scene in The Parent Trap where he falls into the pool, it should be obvious if it was a toupee. But it's not, so I don't buy it.

I remember how sad I was when I opened the NYT one day and saw his obit. It seemed as if he was one of those actors who never got the roles or the big break he deserved. There's a rather silly movie from the mid 1970s called The Wind and the Lion where Sean Connery plays an Arab sheik who kidnaps Candice Bergen. But Keith plays President Teddy Roosevelt, and it's almost ideal casting. TCM shows it sometimes, and it's definitely worth catching.
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#24

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Posted Mar 21, 2012 @ 10:31 AM

Ah, Family Affair. This is one of those shows that I didn't like, but watched anyway because... there wasn't much on tv geared towards kids. The 70s were much kinder than the 60s in that regard.

I liked Buffy and Cissy, hated Jodie and Mrs. Beasley (I was about Buffy's age and no kid I knew was that attached to a doll after toddlerhood, so it made her look a bit simple), was meh about Uncle Bill, but LOVED the concept of kids living in a fancy apartment with a butler. I definitely wished I had a Mr. French.

Pre-Brady Bunch, it was the first show that really showed me an alternate way of life that seemed realistic. I mean, Gilligans Island and Beverly Hillbillies were completely different worlds, but even as a child I knew they were ridiculous. Leave it to Beaver and Father Knows Best had relatable families and storylines for my little suburban self, and even if they had nicer houses than anybody I knew, it wasn't outrageously so. There were houses that nice in town that I saw all the time.

But Family Affair introduced me to the concept of financially fortunate kids living in the city, and such a parallel universe had never occurred to me before. They didn't go out to play, like the Beav and I did -- adults took them all sorts of places all the time!
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#25

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Posted Mar 21, 2012 @ 11:48 AM

Sarcastico, according to the article cited by Bobbyhill, Brian Keith insisted they reshoot that and have him come out with rug intact to dispell any rumors that he actually did wear one.

Watched the Mother/Daughter Dinner on YouTube last night. Yes, I teared up.
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#26

Auntie Chuck

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Posted Mar 21, 2012 @ 12:51 PM

Does anyone else make Untidy Josephs? Love them!
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#27

Angeltoes

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Posted Mar 21, 2012 @ 1:50 PM

I liked that towards the end of the series Uncle Bill stopped referring to the kids as his nephew and nieces but as his son and daughters.

I remember in one of the last episodes Uncle Bill took them back to Indiana and they went to the high school that the kids' parents had attended. The kids' parents' class picture was hanging on the wall in the school hall. It was of little interest to the twins but Cissy stood and stared at it for a long time even after everybody else had kept walking down the hall. I thought that was realistic in the fact that the twins barely remembered their parents and their parents weren't that real to them but Cissy had been older and had more memories with them.

Also liked the episode where Jody was mooning over his teacher and then it turned out she looked exactly like their mother, so there was part of him that remembered.

Homily, you can have my big sister. She's no Cissy but my brother and I would be happy to loan her to you!
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#28

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Posted Mar 21, 2012 @ 2:38 PM

The episode when they go back to Terre Haute was sad and sweet. The show did not forget that these kids were orphans. They were so excited to return and see the places they used to go to. And then came the afterthought "but, that was before...."
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#29

bobbyhill

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Posted Mar 21, 2012 @ 2:53 PM

I remember that on My Three Sons, Dodie (the stepdaughter late in the series) was quite attached to a doll named Myrtle. They must have been copying Buffy/Mrs. Beasley because Mrs. Beasley was so popular!

Edited by bobbyhill, Mar 21, 2012 @ 2:53 PM.

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#30

midwestmusician

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Posted Mar 21, 2012 @ 3:27 PM

I remember that on My Three Sons, Dodie (the stepdaughter late in the series) was quite attached to a doll named Myrtle. They must have been copying Buffy/Mrs. Beasley because Mrs. Beasley was so popular!

My Three Sons and Family Affair were both Don Fedderson productions. Another thing both shows had in common was that both had stars who were also making movies; all the scenes in which they appeared for the entire season were filmed first, so they would then be available for shooting films while the other actors on the TV show filmed the rest of the scenes.

On the subject of poignant episodes, one of my favorites was the first-season episode in which Cissy tried to find out more about Mr. French's background. She eventually learned that he had had a girlfriend who was killed in the London Blitz.
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