Exclusive: Mrs. Beasley Is Making a Comeback! One Surviving ‘Family Affair’ Actor Tends to the Most Iconic Doll in Television

FAMILY AFFAIR, from left, Johnny Whitaker, Sebastian Cabot, Brian Keith, Kathy Garver, Anissa Jones, 1966-71. courtesy Everett Collection
Everett Collection

Kathy Garver was just 8 when she starred opposite Charlton Heston in The Ten Commandments so when she got the role of Cissy Davis on Family Affair, big sister to twins Buffy (Anissa Jones) and Jody (Johnny Whitaker), she already had 10 years of experience in the biz. Unbeknownst to her at the time, was the power of the blue polka-dotted dressed Mrs. Beasley and what a lasting memory the doll would have even to this day.

On the 1967-71 series Family Affair, Mrs. Beasley was the precious doll doted upon by Buffy and the rest of the Davis household, at times, which included Uncle Bill (played by Brian Keith), Mr. French (Sebastian Cabot) and the other kids.

Where can you buy a Mrs. Beasley doll today?

Today, the original Mrs. Beasley sits in the Smithsonian along with other classic TV props, but replicas of the classic doll and more Mrs. Beasley merchandise is seeing a resurgence.

“They sell over a hundred thousand of Mrs. Beasley’s a year,” Garver tells us. “And they’re going to bring out more.”


Currently, Garver offers autographed Mrs. Beasley ornaments and dolls on her personal website.

“There’s the glass, Mrs. Beasley, and then the cutest thing that they brought out as an ornament for the tree is this tiny Mrs. Beasley that you can hang on your tree. It looks exactly like Mrs. Beasley, and it talks and says 11 phrases. It’s just amazing what they do and how they’re bringing the technology to something that’s classic.”

New to the inventory are the collector’s edition blown-glass ornaments from Ashton Drake. The ornaments are currently in high demand and won’t start shipping again until July 15, 2024.

Mrs Beasley new ornament

What kept Cathy Garver free of typical child-star addictions?

Garver starred on the 1967-71 family drama for five years while attending UCLA. She credits her parents for keeping her grounded and leading a successful life, and also for avoiding the child-star horror stories of addiction of which both her fellow cast members fell victim to — Jones died of an overdose at age 18 in 1976, and Whitaker is a survivor and is now a certified addiction counselor.

“My mother always reminded me to ‘Don’t tell people where you are. If you’re out doing The Ten Commandments or if you’re going to guest-star on a TV show, just say that you were out’ [when it came to school.] I think that she wanted me to keep everything very level, very normal, as much as possible,” Garver tells us.

FAMILY AFFAIR, Johnny Whitaker, Sebastian Cabot, Brian Keith, Anissa Jones, Kathy Garver, 1966-71

Everett Collection

She adds: “I applaud her for that in some ways. And then in some ways it was hard, as I was just with Bruce Lee or Debbie Reynolds, but at the same time kind of boring, just normal (and I never took drugs). … My parents did provide a very stable family life.”

Garver was attending UCLA during filming of Family Affair, and was quite regimented with learning her lines and being ready for the next day of work.

“I would go home and learn my lines and be ready for the next day, putting my hair in those big curlers and sleeping on that. I my mother, my parents, who had a very responsible way of looking at life. I went to a Catholic school, and you had to obey. If you didn’t obey … I mean, I remember writing on the blackboard, ‘I will not talk in class. I will not talk in class.’ So they kind of set the pattern of what comes first is your work and being responsible and getting to work on time.”

Garver is still acting and attending nostalgia shows

The intellect has been acting since, with her more recent projects being 2023’s Yellow Bird and Old Man Jackson. Garver, now 78, will star with Dolly Parton in an original film tentatively titled Good Times at Blue Jay Saloon later this year.

She’s also written five books (including her autobiography Surviving Cissy: My Family Affair of Life in Hollywood and X Child Stars: Where Are They Now?). She thoroughly enjoys spending time with her son Reid and his girlfriend, and remains happily married to her husband of 40-plus years, David Travis. Fans can visit her website kathygarver.com and click on the merchandise tab to see autographed dolls, photos, the books she’s written and more.

In June, Garver will be attending The Hollywood Show in Burbank.

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