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Edmund L. Hartmann|
William D. Russell
|Theme music composer||Frank De Vol|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||5|
|No. of episodes||138 (list of episodes)|
|Executive producer(s)||Don Fedderson|
|Running time||25 minutes|
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's 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).
William "Bill" Davis, originally of Terre Haute, Indiana, is a successful civil engineer who develops major projects all over the world. A wealthy bachelor who often dates socialites, Bill lives in a large apartment on East 62 Street off Fifth Avenue, in Manhattan, and has a quintessential gentleman's gentleman, Giles French, for a valet. His quiet lifestyle is turned upside-down when his two nieces and nephew move in.
Bill's brother Bob and sister-in-law Mary had died in an automobile accident a year prior to the premiere episode (the DVD collection's notes mistakenly state "tragic plane accident"). Their children—15-year-old Cissy and her young twin siblings, Buffy and Jody—had been dispersed among relatives in Terre Haute for that year, but none of them wanted to continue raising the children, so they all attempted to give the responsibility to Bill. "Uncle Bill" is not keen on the idea at first, but the children endear themselves to him. First comes Buffy, followed by Jody and, finally, Cissy. Mr. French is initially mortified by the situation, becoming effectively the children's nanny on top of his valet duties. As time passes they all become a family, albeit an accidental one.
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 last 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.
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.
There were several episodes opening with Sebastian Cabot and some with 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||Nielsen ratings|
|First aired||Last aired||Rank||Rating||Tied with|
|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.
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