The Twilight Zone and Alfred Hitchcock Presents: Family Affair Connections, Part 1

Source: IMDb.com

John Williams and Alfred Hitchcock. Source: IMDb.com

What connections can possibly exist between the sugary 1960s sitcom Family Affair and TV’s two creepiest anthology programs? Television actors made the rounds in the 1950s and 1960s, so perhaps its not surprising that both of Family Affair‘s lead actors and many of its recurring guest stars show up in these anthology shows. (It probably helped that both the Hitchcock show and Family Affair made good use of aging British actors.) It’s a treat, though, to see them in roles so different from the ones I spotlight each week in my Family Affair series.

I’d originally planned this post for October 2, the broadcast anniversary for both Alfred Hitchcock Presents (which debuted in 1955) and The Twilight Zone (which aired its first episode four years later). I found so many interesting connections, however, that this post took longer to prepare than I’d anticipated. Its length also required breaking it into two parts.

John Williams

John Williams is the strongest link between Family Affair and the world of Alfred Hitchcock. Williams played Nigel French in nine first-season Family Affair episodes, while Sebastian Cabot recovered from an illness. His most famous career role, however, was Chief Inspector Hubbard in Hitchcock’s film Dial M for Murder. (He originated the role on Broadway and earned a Tony award for his performance.) He also appeared in Hitchcock’s To Catch a Thief.

Williams was obviously a Hitchcock favorite–he would appear in no fewer than 10 episodes of Alfred Hitchcock Presents. The three-part episode “I Killed the Count” from Season 2 finds Williams in his most characteristic role as a stuffy Scotland Yard inspector. His character uncovers no shortage of suspects in a tangled murder case. The fun is in watching his exasperation build as “I killed the count” becomes an “I am Spartacus”-style refrain among people eager to confess.

(One of the suspects is played by Alan Napier, who appeared in a third-season Family Affair episode but is best known as Alfred from TV’s Batman. Nora Marlowe also has a small role in Part 3 of “I Killed the Count.” She appeared in four Family Affair episodes, as various nanny friends of Giles French. Her most memorable TV role was Flossie Brimmer on The Waltons.)

Parts two and three of “I Killed the Count” are also on Youtube and available through Netflix.

In another second-season episode, “Wet Saturday,” criminals get the best of Williams. If you’ve ever longed to see Nigel French get slapped around, this is the episode for you. Also interesting is the happy epilogue that Hitchcock tacked on in his closing comments, to counteract the downbeat on-screen ending.

Kathryn Givney, who plays the murderer's mother in this episode, was Mrs. Allenby in the memorable first-season Family Affair episode "The Thursday Man."

Kathryn Givney, who plays the murderer’s mother in this episode, was Mrs. Allenby in the memorable first-season Family Affair episode “The Thursday Man.”

Williams also made one appearance on The Twilight Zone, in an hour-long episode called “The Bard.” This isn’t a great episode; it strives too hard for hipness as it satirizes TV hackery. Williams’ turn as William Shakespeare is amusing, though. Who else could imbue the words Cat on a Hot Tin Roof with so much contempt merely by enunciating each consonant deliberately? The rest of the cast provides plenty of interest, too. It includes future movie star Burt Reynolds and future Dyna Girl Judy Strangis.

Brian Keith

Brian Keith never appeared on The Twilight Zone, but he did appear on five episodes of Alfred Hitchcock Presents (including one after the show’s 1962 expansion and re-titling as The Alfred Hitchcock Hour). The most interesting for Family Affair fans is probably “Cell 227,” in which Keith portrays a condemned prisoner. The script is a bit preachy and lacks the typical Hitchcock atmosphere, though the ending provides a suitably grim “gotcha.” Keith gives his usual strong performance, and it’s a major departure from Uncle Bill.

Liam Sullivan, who appeared in one Season Three episode of Family Affair, plays a priest here. Frank Nelson, an annoying neighbor in two memorable Family Affair episodes (“Mrs. Beasley, Where Are You?” and “Ballerina Buffy”), has a more sympathetic role as a lawyer fighting to save Keith’s character.

Keith himself plays a crusading lawyer in “The Test.” His courtroom tactics are questionable, but there’s a method to his madness. This one has a thought-provoking, ambiguous ending.

Sebastian Cabot

Sebastian Cabot appears in the first-season Twilight Zone episode “Nice Place to Visit.” As the spiritual guide of a recently deceased thug, he’s Giles-French-like throughout most of the episode. The ending twist, while predictable, shows him in a very different light.

Cabot also appeared in one Alfred Hitchcock Presents episode, Season One’s “A Bullet for Baldwin.” He’s Baldwin, and the episode’s opening events suggest that Cabot’s appearance will be brief. As you might expect on this show, things are more complicated than they seem.

(An extra treat for me in this episode is the presence of John Qualen, who played Earl Williams in my very favorite movie, His Girl Friday. Too bad he never appeared on Family Affair.)

Ida Lupino

Legendary actress and director Ida Lupino appeared as French’s old flame Maudie Marchwood in two Family Affair episodes. She appeared in one Twilight Zone episode, Season One’s “Sixteen-Millimeter Shrine.” The paranormal twist in this one comes too late to add much interest to the story of a fading actress living in the past. Lupino is always interesting, but this script doesn’t do her any favors; it reads like her character is 70, while Lupino was just over 40 when this aired!

(Lupino directed the much better Twilight Zone episode “The Masks.”)

Alice Frost, who appeared in the memorable Family Affair episode “The Candy Striper,” also appears here and gets to do some good screaming.

Paul Hartman

A first-season Family Affair guest star, Hartman appeared on three episodes of Alfred Hitchcock Presents.

You remember him--he sold Buffy and Jody a broken down horse.

You remember him–he sold Buffy and Jody a broken down horse.

On The Twilight Zone, he played a police sergeant in the second-season episode “Back There,” a time-travel yarn involving Abraham Lincoln’s assassination. Nora Marlowe shows up again here. (Also of interest to classic TV fans: This episode stars Russell Johnson, the professor from Gilligan’s Island.)

The full episode doesn’t seem to be on Youtube, but you can watch it through Netflix or Amazon Prime Instant Video.

Louise Latham

Louise Latham launched her screen career in Hitchcock’s Marnie as the title character’s mother.

On Family Affair, of course, she was Aunt Fran--a character who cast a longer shadow than her three appearances would suggest.

On Family Affair, of course, she was Aunt Fran–a character who cast a longer shadow than her three appearances would suggest.

She made one appearance on The Alfred Hitchcock Hour, and it was a good one. “An Unlocked Window” has everything–a spooky house, a violent storm, and a serial killer on the loose. Latham gives a showy performance as a housekeeper who progresses from merely annoying to drunken and deranged. The episode’s ending doesn’t completely surprise, but it does pack a punch. (Bonus for my fellow cat lovers: A nice-looking tabby gets plenty of screen time.)

Another connection involving this episode: Stanley Cortez served as director of photography here, as well as on the first two episodes of Family Affair. A veteran cinematographer, Cortez had worked on such movies as The Magnificent Ambersons and Night of the Hunter.

Heather Angel

Surprisingly, Heather Angel never appeared on the Hitchcock series. She would have been well suited for various British dowager parts, and she did have small parts in two Hitchcock films, Suspicion and Lifeboat.

On Family Affair, Angel played Miss Faversham in a whopping 18 episodes.

On Family Affair, Angel played Miss Faversham in a whopping 18 episodes–many more than any other recurring cast member.

Other Posts You Might Enjoy:

Leave It to Beaver: A Father’s Journey

Room 222 Call Sheet: A Day in the Life of a 1970s Sitcom

Assorted Ephemera: My Three Sons Coloring Book (1971)

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Family Affair Friday(ish): Season 1, Episode 26, “All Nephews Are Created Equal,” 3/27/1967

Sorry that this week’s installment of my Family Affair series is a bit late. Our episode this weeks concerns a cultural clash, with the cultures involved being swinging-’60s-British-youth-sanitized-for-family television and Mr. French’s weird Downton-Abbey-throwback lifestyle.

Written by: Edmund Beloin and Henry Garson. Directed by: William D. Russell.

Synopsis

As we look in on the Davis family, Uncle Bill is leaving again, this time for a short trip to San Francisco.

To his credit, he looks genuinesly pained

To his credit, he looks pained to be leaving the kids this time, and he comments that they have turned him into a homebody.

As the kids leave for school, Cissy mentions that Mr. French will be picking up his nephew at the airport later.

French, meanwhile, has

French, meanwhile, has Bill’s suitcase packed, his airline tickets ready, and a list of recommended San Francisco eateries prepared. Sigh–I so need to get me a French.

From French, Bill learns that nephew David is visiting New York on his way to live in California as an exchange student. (David is the son of Algernon French. I wonder how many French brothers exist?) When Bill mentions that David and Cissy might hit it off, French recoils from the idea.

“One of the very first rules my father laid down when my brothers and I went into service was that undue familiarity doomed the relationship between master and servant,” he notes.

Understandably uncomfortable with this language, Bill prefers to think of him and French as people who “work together.” He accepts French’s views on the subject, however, quoting his own father as saying, “Don’t argue with a man who has his mind made up.”

Later when French

Later, French shows David around the apartment and points out the “extraordinary” view of the Manhattan skyline. (And, extraordinary it surely is, with that painted look and all.)

David offends his uncle’s servile sensibilities by calling the apartment “a splashy pad” and speculating about how much “lolly” Bill makes.

Then he really upsets the old guy with the news that he won't

Then he really upsets the old guy with the news that he won’t be following in the French “gentleman’s gentleman” tradition.

He’s passing on a cushy career working six long days a week, living in one cramped room, wearing uncomfortable uniforms, and submitting completely to another person’s wishes? What other kind of career could possibly tempt him?

David wants to be a dentist!

David wants to be a dentist!

Hmm…forsaking centuries of tradition for a career in dentistry? What other 1960s character does David remind me of?

Oh, yeah. And, ahir aside,

Oh, yeah.

When the kids come home from school, Cissy and David take an immediate liking to each other.

Uh-oh.

Uh-oh.

Soon they’re comparing notes on sports, and Cissy is inviting him to an American football game. (In the spring?)

David and Cissy have a good time

David and Cissy’s rapport is obvious later when they meet in the park.

Unfortunately, French’s butler friends are there to witness this meeting.

Shock and awe.

Shock and awe. (By the way, didn’t Withers leave his job and move to Connecticut? Has his marriage broken up already?)

David shares a meal with the family, and it’s clear that they all like him.

Buffy even asks him to fix Mrs. Beasley's teeth when he's a dentisty.

Buffy even asks David to fix Mrs. Beasley’s teeth. When Jody observes that Mrs. Beasley doesn’t have any teeth, Buffy says David can provide some–and then Mrs. Beasley might talk with a British accent.

French continues to stew, however, especially after Cissy’s friend Sharon arrives with tickets to a jazz festival. She invites Cissy and David to accompany her and her boyfriend.

The return of Sharon.

The return of Sharon. She seems nicer here than in her last appearance, but if I were Cissy, I’d keep an eye on her with David.

When French learns that David has invited Cissy to help see him off at the airport the next day, he can’t contain his feelings anymore.

He pressures David to retract the invitation.

He pressures David to retract the invitation. Random decor note: I wouldn’t mind having that lamp, as a kitschy kind of piece.

David’s sudden, unexplained change of heart saddens Cissy.

Seeing her reaction, French admists that he was

Seeing her reaction, French admits that he told David to dis-invite her.

Cissy's angry, but luckily Uncle Bill has tr

Cissy’s angry, but luckily Uncle Bill has returned home and is ready to set things right.

He gently reminds French that the generation gap is universal, and that teens don’t always accept their elders’ ideas: “You can live your own life, but you can’t live theirs.”

French relents and tells Cissy to change clothes for the airport–her “slack ensemble” is hardly correct for such an occasion.

In the episode’s tag, Buffy and Jody examine a letter just delivered for Uncle Bill.

The twins, whose IQs fluctuate wildly from week to week, have app

The twins, whose IQs fluctuate wildly from week to week, have apparently been beaten by the stupid stick again–they can’t even sound out Canada.

As it turns out, the letter is from Mr. Giles French, who announces his imminent return to the Davis household.

The kids are thrilled,

The kids are thrilled. “Neato-bosso!” Buffy exclaims, in what the writers must have considered a plausible bit of kid-slang. Apparently, they didn’t know any children.

They are sad to think of Nigel French leaving, however. Jody suggests moving himself into Uncle Bill’s room to make room for both Frenches. Surprisingly, Uncle Bill rejects this idea.

it all evens out

Well, it all evens out, as Buffy notes: “We get one Mr. French, and we lose one Mr. French.”

Commentary

I think this kind of episode premise appeals to kids. It’s always fun to see adult pretensions punctured, as young people strike a blow for egalitarianism. It also plays to the idealized American notion of rising above class differences.

Guest Cast

David: Martin Horsey. Withers: Richard Peel. Middlebrook: Maurice Dallimore. Sharon: Sherry Alberoni.

Martin Horsey played the Artful Dodger in the original London production of Oliver! This is former Mouseketeer Sherry Alberoni’s second appearance on Family Affair. Maurice Dallimore played a butler (named Faversham!) in an episode of Petticoat Junction.

Fun Facts

Uncle Bill disliked school when he was the twins’ age.

Random fashion note: Jody wears this shirt a LOT.

Random fashion note: Jody wears this shirt a LOT.

Continuity Notes

Cissy mentions the Velvet Vultures and Terre Haute.

Today’s Bonus Feature

A short gossip item from TV Radio Mirror, April 1970.

TV Radio Mirror April 1970

Family Affair Friday: Season 1, Episode 25, “The Way It Was,” 3/20/1967

“The Way It Was,” 3/20/1967. Written by: George Tibbles. Directed by: William D. Russell.

Welcome to another installment of Family Affair Friday!

As our episode opens, Bill Davis is bringing a lot of work home with him.

French knows that working from home is a bad idea--the kids have just started their spring break.

French knows that working from home is a bad idea–the kids have just started their spring break.

Bill expresses confidence in French’s ability to keep the kids quiet. French’s doubts prove well founded, however. Soon Buffy and Jody are blaring the TV.

Cissy, meanwhile, is getting lots of phone calls and listening to the generically bouncy instrumental music that passes for rock and roll in 1960s sitcoms.

Cissy, meanwhile, is getting many phone calls and listening to the generically bouncy instrumental music that passes for rock and roll in 1960s sitcoms.

In fact, the kids are so unruly that at one point French has to tell a ping-pong-raquet-wielding Jody, “You will be in dire straits if you touch your sister with that weapon.”

Keep in mind: This is only the first evening of the kids’ vacation.

When an old friend of Bill’s calls to recruit the kids for a one-week spring break camp, Bill needs no convincing.

Soon he's gazing dreamily into space as he contemplates a kid-free week.

Soon he’s gazing dreamily into space as he contemplates a kid-free week.

His camp director friend shows up the next morning to claim the kids, including Cissy, who’ll be serving as a counselor.

This is the part that's the hardest--taking the kids away from their parents,"

“This is the part that’s the hardest–taking the kids away from their parents,” the camp director says, as French and Bill struggle to suppress their glee.

Uncle Bill, of course, doesn’t plan to spend his whole week working. He’s anxious to get his date on. It’s amusing how averse all his old girlfriends are to domestic life. As he begins to miss the kids more and more, he subjects a series of women to dull parental bragging.

The first date endures photos.

His first date endures photos.

He foists a Cissy composition on date number 2.

He foists a Cissy composition on date number 2.

Date number thre flees after Bill starts showing her Jody's trouphies.

Date number three flees after Bill starts showing her Jody’s trophies.

After each failed date, Bill marvels at how much the ladies in his life have changed.

The kids are having fun at camp, but Buffy is struggling over a letter to Uncle Bill. She's just not sure what she should say.

The kids are having fun at camp, but Buffy is struggling over a letter to Uncle Bill. She’s just not sure what she should say.

As the week goes on, Bill and French become increasingly concerned at the silence from camp. A camp, incidentally, that doesn’t have a phone. I think Bill has good reason for concern, especially since he didn’t research this camp in any way before packing off the kids.

For one thing, the camp seems to have placed 6-year-old Buffy in a tent by herself.

For one thing, the camp seems to have placed 6-year-old Buffy in a tent by herself.

The peace and quiet in the Davis apartment soon becomes oppressive.

Uncle Bill is reduced to wandering into the girls room and cuddling Mrs. Beasley.

Uncle Bill is reduced to wandering into the girls room and cuddling Mrs. Beasley.

Mrs. Beasley! French and Bill get a simultaneous brainstorm–taking the doll to Buffy would be a good pretense for visiting camp and making sure the kids are okay.

Just as they’re ready to head to camp, however, the kids make a surprise return.

Yes, their camp let them leave early without informing their

Yes, the camp let some of its campers leave early without informing their families that it would be doing so. I can see why the camp director has to call old friends up one by one to recruit customers.

When Bill asks the kids why they didn’t write, they note that they didn’t receive any letters. Chagrined, Bill and French realize that they spent so much time worrying that they forgot to write.

pancakes

Everyone is happy to be back together. Now, bring on the breakfast.

Commentary

Uncle Bill’s early excitement about sending the kids away is pretty funny, if uncharacteristic. So is the kids’ pre-camp bad behavior, which is so over the top that I don’t really blame Bill for jumping at the camp opportunity, despite the kids’ history of separation anxiety and abandonment fears. Well, I don’t blame him too much.

We also get an interesting peek into Uncle Bill’s social life. Apparently, Giles French has aided him in many seductions by preparing midnight suppers and playing music that each woman thinks of as “our song.”

Each woman

Each woman gushes about the details the French remembered. Bill fails to inform them that it’s a different French who’s setting the mood for romance now.

French has some enjoyably droll lines, such as, “Conversation ensues when one plants one’s person upon a park bench.”

In one scene, Bill and his date argue about the characterization of a child in the play they just saw. Bill feels that the seven-year-old character has been portrayed as excessively infantile. Coming from a Family Affair writer, this dialog is ironic.

a pretense for visiting

I think it’s a healthy sign that Buffy left Mrs. Beasley at home. (Buffy’s explanation: Mrs. Beasley hates tents).

Guest Cast

Olivia: Julie Parrish. Marie: Lynn Borden. Laurie: Anabel Garth. Norman Brailey: L.E. Young. Julie Parrish, who died in 2003, worked steadily through the 1990s. She played Joan, Nat’s wife, on Beverly Hills, 90210. Her older work included appearing in the classic two-part Star Trek episode “The Menagerie” and the film The Nutty Professor (1963). In 1967, she starred in a one-season sitcom called Good Morning, World, which has actually been released on DVD. (Ronnie Schell, Billy DeWolfe, and Goldie Hawn for $10.99? Yeah, that’s going on my wish list.)

Borden was in the cast of the 1978 miniseries Centennial, in which Brian Keith also appeared. She played Barbara Baxter in the final season of Hazel.

Family Affair Friday: Season 1, Episode 24, “Everybody Needs Somebody,” 3/13/1967

Welcome to this delayed edition of Family Affair Friday! I’ve emerged from my camping adventure unscathed, if unrested, and ready for another installment of Davis family fun.

Season 1, Episode 24, “Everybody Needs Somebody,” 3/13/1967

Written by: Ed James and Seaman Jacobs. Directed by: William D. Russell.

Synopsis

As the show opens, the twins are getting on everyone’s nerves.

Jody makes one his anti-girl cracks, which Cissy doesn't appreciate. She orders him to get lost. Meanwhile, doesn't Mrs. Beasley look forlorn? Maybe she senses what's coming next.

Jody makes one his anti-girl cracks, which Cissy doesn’t appreciate. She orders him to get lost. Meanwhile, doesn’t Mrs. Beasley look forlorn? Maybe she senses what’s coming next.

Jody leaves the girls’ room, but not before swiping Mrs. Beasley. Much running and screaming ensues.

The chase is on.

The chase is on.

The caper comes to a halt when the kids reach Uncle Bill’s desk, where they knock down his plans for “the longest bridge in Venezuela.”

Oops.

Oops.

Mr. French has had it, so he lowers the boom: No TV for two nights.

And that includes Captain Hippopotamus. (The name of the twins' favorite show is clearly based on Captain Kangaroo, but the show itself, as Buffy describes it, sounds more like an adventure serial.)

And that includes Captain Hippopotamus. (The name of the twins’ favorite show is clearly based on Captain Kangaroo, but the show itself, as Buffy describes it, sounds more like an adventure serial.)

Almost immediately he begins to doubt his disciplinary actions–was he being too harsh? Nigel is definitely the sensitive French brother. Punishing Buffy and Jody was a favorite activity for Giles French.

The next day, French takes the twins with him as he purchases a wedding present for fellow butler Withers. In response to the kids’ questions, French explains why marriage is such a happy occasion. (French’s real feelings on the subject seem to be less positive, however–he fears Withers is giving up his career for “what may be a matrimonial disaster.”)

French picks out a sterling silver pickle fork for Withers!

French picks out the perfect present–a sterling silver pickle fork!

Could have been worse for Withers--French could have bought that hideous bird thing.

Could have been worse for Withers–French could have bought that hideous bird thing. (Note that the store walls are our favorite shade of green.)

The marriage conversation gives the twins a brainstorm–never a good thing. They are determined to find a Mrs. French!

Ah, here's a likely candidate.

Ah, here’s a likely candidate.

The twins try to play matchmaker between French and Miss Faversham. French, however, jumps to the conclusion that the twins want to replace him with Miss Faversham because he’s been too tough on them.

Suddenly, it’s liberty hall at the Davis apartment.

Play time before homework and cookies and punch before dinner--yes, Jody, this is shocking.

TV before homework and cookies and punch before dinner–yes, Jody, this is shocking.

Uncle Bill steps in and asks the kids why they don’t like French. Shocked, they reply that that they love him and that he’s their best friend besides Uncle Bill himself and Cissy. (Guess they’ve forgotten the other Mr. French–or the Frenches have merged in their childish brains.)

Soon, however, he catches them inspecting his room to see if Miss Faversham would like it.

Soon, however, French catches the kids inspecting his room to see if Miss Faversham would like it.

Luckily, Cissy gets wind of their ideas and fills in Uncle Bill, who gets the whole scheme out of them. French is touched to hear how concerned the kids were about his happiness.

final hug

The three have a sweet talk about marriage, and Uncle Bill explains that each person must find happiness in his or her own way.

Interestingly, Uncle Bill also expresses his own determination to marry one day. Jody, on the other hand, is a budding confirmed bachelor.

Commentary

The concluding talk is definitely the highlight of this episode. Structurally, the plot is unsatisfying, with an abrupt resolution.

Guest Cast

Withers: Richard Peel. Peter: Kevin Cooper. Clerk: Pitt Herbert. Miss Faversham: Heather Angel. Herbert was a frequent TV guest star who played a toy store owner in two Brady Bunch episodes. He also had small parts in such films as Hud, Dear Brigitte (John Williams also appeared) and The North Avenue Irregulars. He had a recurring role on Perry Mason as an autopsy surgeon.

Random observation: Uncle Bill was having a bit of a wardrobe malfunction wiht his tie here.

Random observation: Uncle Bill was having a bit of a wardrobe malfunction with his tie here.

Burning Question

What would Giles French think of the kids’ attempt to fix Miss Faversham up with his brother?

Random liberary observation

Random literary observation: Some of Jody’s books look like Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew volumes. Did boys read Nancy Drew in the ’60s?

Continuity Notes

This French has the same day off as his brother–Thursday. Nigel French mentions his brother in this episode. At least he remembers him.

Inconsistency Alert

Buffy, who could perform multiplication in the past, cannot subtract 6 from 15.

Notable Quotes

Jody: “How are we gonna get them married, Buffy? We can’t even get them to play checkers.”

Random ugliness: Nice hallway decor. Uncle Bill's lame interior decorator friend must have performed her magic on the whole building.

Random ugliness: Nice hallway decor. Uncle Bill’s lame interior decorator friend must have performed her magic on the whole building.

This Week’s Bonus Feature

Another silly Kathy Garver cover–TV Picture Life, September 1967

Family Affair Friday: Season 1, Episode 23, “The Mother Tongue,” 2/27/1967

Welcome to Family Affair Friday, appearing on an actual Friday this week! In this episode we learn the twins’ bedtime, the general location of Uncle Bill’s office, and the limits of Mr. French’s linguistic abilities. We also get to see the only Family Affair guest cast member who was also a stripper. At least, I think she was the only one.

Season 1, Episode 23, “The Mother Tongue”

Written by: George Tibbles. Directed by: William D. Russell.

Synopsis

It’s 8 p.m. in the Davis household, which means it’s bedtime for Buffy and Jody.

The twins plead for a later bedtime, telling Uncle Bill that their new friend Marilyn gets to stay up to 8:30. Uncle Bill sends them off to bed anyway.

I don't blame him. I think I'd be tired of Buffy and Jody by 8 o'clock, too.

I don’t blame him. I think I’d be tired of Buffy and Jody by 8 o’clock, too.

The next day, the twins continue to rave about their new friend, who has inspired them to adopt higher standards of politeness and neatness.

They even give French a bow and curtsy as they leave the breakfast table. Naturally, he's baffled.

They even give French a bow and curtsy as they leave the breakfast table. Naturally, he’s baffled.

When French meets Marilyn, he quickly discovers that she doesn’t speak English.

Throughout

He finds himself in the first of several bowing standoffs with her. You know, that old TV trope–a non-Asian person meets an Asian person, and the Asian person bows, so the non-Asian person bows back, and then the Asian person bows again, and so on? Yes, it’s quite tedious.

French and Uncle Bill marvel at the ease with which Buffy, Jody, and Marilyn play, despite their language barrier.

Apparently Buffy owns a doll other than Mrs. Beasley. I don't know what kind of doll it is, but I'd bet Mattel made it.

Look, Buffy owns another doll besides Mrs. Beasley. I don’t know what kind of doll it is, but I’d bet Mattel made it.

Unfortunately, French decides to brush up on his own Cantonese so he can communicate with Marilyn.

The next time she comes over to play, he tries to tell her that she has the eyes of a fawn and the face of an angel.

The next time she comes over to play, he tries to tell her that she has the eyes of a fawn and the face of an angel.

He actually tells her that she has “the ears of a pig and the face of a horrifying demon.”

Marilyn, understandably, flees in horror.

Marilyn, understandably, flees in horror.

Marilyn’s father, a member of the Chinese delegation to the UN, pays Uncle Bill a visit at the office.

He explains French's mix-up and tells Bill how upset Marilyn's mother and grandmother are about the inadvertent insult.

He explains French’s mix-up and tells Bill how upset Marilyn’s mother and grandmother are about the inadvertent insult.

Uncle Bill promises that French will make amends, and French does try to do so when Marilyn returns to the Davis apartment. He hasn’t quite mastered the word “angel,” though–he tells her she has “the face of a serpent.”

Oh, no, he didn't!

Oh, no, he didn’t!

This prompts another visit from Marilyn’s father to Uncle Bill’s office.

Hmm. The UN is between 42nd and 48th streets, and Uncle Bill thanks Marilyn's father for coming "downtown." To solve such a small problem, Marilyn's father is really going out of his way.

Hmm. The UN is between 42nd and 48th streets, and Uncle Bill thanks Marilyn’s father for coming “downtown” to his office. To solve such a small problem, Marilyn’s father is really going out of his way.

Bowing to the wishes of his wife and mother-in-law, Mr. Chen bans Marilyn from playing with Buffy and Jody.

Marilyn, we hardly knew ye.

Marilyn, we hardly knew ye.

Facing the twins’ wrath, French decides to pay the Chens a visit.

Yes, Marilyn, I'd be wary, too.

Yes, Marilyn, I’d be wary, too.

Greeting Mrs. Chen and her mother, French gets off to a good start.

good start

Unfortunately, he doesn’t leave it at that.

bad finish

The ladies don't take this especially well, at least at first.

The ladies don’t take this especially well, at least at first. (Anyone know how to say “My walls are Family Affair green” in Cantonese?)

Marilyn, however, begins to see the humor in French’s well-meaning attempts.

amused

Soon, the whole Chen family realizes that French meant no harm. By the end of the episode, Buffy and Jody have picked up some Cantonese, and Marilyn is learning English (such as “color television”).

As French and Uncle Bill look on fondly, the three children indulge in some imaginary gun play.

Oh, Marilyn...You're going to fit in just fine here.

Oh, Marilyn…You’re going to fit in here just fine.

Commentary

A nice aspect of Family Affair is the cosmopolitan world the Davises inhabit. They interact with people across a wide range of ethnic, racial, and socioeconomic backgrounds. I like the way the kids in this episode communicate across the cultural barrier with ease, while the adults struggle a bit. And the translations of French’s compliments are funny.

Random observation: John Williams is really tall, and Kathy Garver is really short.

Random observation: John Williams is really tall, and Kathy Garver is really short.

Guest Cast

Mr. Chen: Richard Loo. Marilyn: Lisa Fong. Mrs. Chen: Noel Toy. Grandmother: May Lee.

This capture is from the third visit Mr. Chen paid to Uncle Bill's office. He must have really liked getting away from the UN.

This capture is from the third visit Mr. Chen paid to Uncle Bill’s office. He must have really liked getting away from the UN.

Richard Loo had an active film career within the limits imposed on Asian-American actors of his time. He played Japanese characters in many World War II-era movies including Wake Island (Brian Donlevy from Episode 15 starred), Flying Tigers, and God is My Co-Pilot (with Andrea King from Episode 17). Later films included Love is a Many Splendored Thing, Around the World in 80 Days (the large cast also included Katy Koury from Episode 8) and The Man with the Golden Gun. He was Master Sun on TV’s Kung Fu and made guest appearances on many shows.

Noel Toy started her career as an exotic dancer and earned the nickname “the Chinese Sally Rand.” In 1945, she married character actor Carleton Young, who also made several Family Affair guest appearances. (We saw him a few weeks ago in Episode 20.)

Lisa Fong’s father was actor Benson Fong, who will show up three times in later Family Affair seasons.

Today’s Bonus Feature

Coming soon!

Family Affair Friday(ish): Season 1, Episode 22, “Ballerina Buffy,” 2/20/1967

Welcome to Family Affair Friday! You know, one of these days I might just change the title of this series to Family Affair Saturday. Hate to lose the alliteration, though.

Today’s episode gives us lots of Buffy cuteness and a look at a very lucky lady–Brian Keith’s real-life wife.

Written by: Edmund Beloin & Henry Garson. Directed by: William D. Russell.

Synopsis

Our opening teaser finds Uncle Bill working high above a completely realistic Manhattan skyline.

Our opening teaser finds Uncle Bill working high above a completely realistic Manhattan skyline.

An underling conveys a message to him: His niece has torn her tutu. The worker thinks this means she suffered an injury–I wonder what body part he thinks a tutu is.

Now we know we’re in for a ballet-themed episode, so it’s no surprise that our next scene opens in typical ballet studio, complete with Russianish instructor.

Pretty big range of sizes represented in this class.

Pretty big range of sizes represented in this class.

After class, the instructor talks about an upcoming Little Red Riding Hood recital.

French is sitting with the ballet moms, one of whom confides that she expects her daughter Melissa to get the lead role in the upcoming Little Red Riding Hood recital.

French is sitting with the ballet moms, one of whom confides that she expects her daughter Melissa to get the lead role.

(Melissa’s family lives in the Davis building–we’ve seen them before in Episode 7.)

The ballet teacher introduces a famous ballerina, Margo Dunbar, who will direct the recital and who has cast the roles.

Margo is played by Judith Landon, Brian Keith's wife. They married in 1954 and would divorce in 1969. I'm sure she had a lot going for her, despite whatever is going on with her eyebrows here.

Margo is played by Judith Landon, Brian Keith’s wife. They married in 1954 and would divorce in 1969. I’m sure she had a lot going for her, despite whatever is going on with her eyebrows here.

She cast Buffy as Little Red Riding Hood and Melissa as the wolf.

Melissa's mother takes this well.

Melissa’s mother takes this well.

French talks to Miss Dunbar after class, and she discovers that Buffy’s Uncle Bill is the same Bill Davis she once dated in Venice (he tipped over the gondola they were riding in, which somehow kept her from performing Swan Lake that night).

Uncle Bill must have enjoyed that Venice escapade. When he hears Margo's in town he take the bold step of accompanying Buffy to ballet class himself the next day.

Uncle Bill must have enjoyed that Venice escapade. When he hears Margo’s in town he take the bold step of accompanying Buffy to ballet class himself the next day.

They are quickly on “honey” and “dear” terms, a situation not lost on Melissa’s mother.

She jumps to the conclusion that the casting was rigged, of course. (Ironically, Buffy didn't even want to play Little Ridiing Hood. She wanted to play the wolf.)

She jumps to the conclusion that the casting was rigged, of course. (Ironically, Buffy didn’t even want to play Little Riding Hood. She wanted to play the wolf.)

Margo visits the Davis home and tells Buffy how much potential she has as a dancer.

Bill and Margo tell Buffy she might become a ballet star, touring the world.

Bill and Margo tell Buffy she might become a ballet star, touring the world.

Buffy assumes they mean that she’ll have to start touring right away, which triggers her well-founded separation anxiety. Commiserating with Jody, she suddenly realizes the answer to her dilemma.

She'll just perform really, really badly in the recital!s

She’ll just perform really, really badly in the recital! 

And she does.

She starts by spilling her basket of goddies across the stage.

She starts by spilling her basket of goodies across the stage.

And after many other mishaps…

...she closes with a backwards bow.

…she closes with a backwards bow.

Here are the Davis family reactions:

jody reaction

cissy and french reaction

uncle bill reaction

At home, the family commiserates, while an exultant Buffy confides in Mrs. Beasley.

confiding in mrs beasley

“Some of the kids said I was awful, and some said I was clumsy, and Melissa tried to bite me with her wolf teeth. It was perfect!”

It’s time for a sweet one-on-one talk with Uncle Bill, who assures her that she is home to stay. (After last week, you can’t blame her for needing reassurance.)

Commentary

This is a cute episode. Buffy’s separation anxiety makes sense, and her bad ballet performance is fun.

Another plus: A chance to see Anissa Jones in something other than her signature hair style.

Another plus: A chance to see Anissa Jones in something other than her signature hair style.

Guest Cast

Margo: Judith Landon. Mr. Nelson: Frank Maxwell. Clara: Ann McCrea. Madam Leonton: Lili Valenty. Melissa Nelson: Cindy Eilbacher. Seegar: John Lawrence. Judith Landon appeared as a background dancer in several 1950s movies. She would play a ballet teacher in a 1973 Brady Bunch episode–the one where Jan tries desperately to find a talent. Okay, one of the ones where Jan tries desperately to find a talent.

While Melissa's parents haven't changed since Episode 7, she has morphed from Pamelyn Ferdin to Cindy Eilbacher.

While Melissa’s parents haven’t changed since Episode 7, she has morphed from Pamelyn Ferdin to Cindy Eilbacher.

Cindy Eilbacher was a fairly prolific child and young adult actress. She was the daughter in My Mother the Car (Randy Whipple, who played her brother in that series, is a Family Affair standby) and appeared in many TV movies. She played April, Paul Williams’ first wife, on The Young and the Restless in the early 1980s and again in the early 1990s. Her sister, Lisa Eilbacher, was also an actress.

Inconsistency Alert

French says he enrolled Buffy in ballet as part of an “anti-clomping about the house campaign.” But Buffy began ballet in Episode 9, before Nigel French’s arrival.

Random fashion note: I like Cissy's suit and white gloves here.

Random fashion note: I like Cissy’s suit and white gloves here.

Notable Quotes

Uncle Bill: “Can you name me one other uncle who’s got a Little Red Riding Hood who always falls down?”

Today’s Bonus Feature

Movie Mirror, January 1968

Family Affair Friday(ish): Season 1, Episode 22, “Once in Love with Buffy,” 2/13/1967

Welcome to another installment of Family Affair Friday! Sorry it’s late–I’m blogging from the depths of migraine hell this weekend.

This week’s episode is an important one in the Family Affair canon. A good alternate title for it would be “Aunt Fran 2: The Nightmare Continues.”

Written by: Austin and Irma Kalish. Directed by: William D. Russell.

Synopsis

Mr. French and Cissy are out, so Uncle Bill sacrifices a bowling game to stay home with Buffy and Jody.

Here he is canceling his bowling plans, explaining to his friend that he's "stuck with the kids." Ouch. Well, he didn't know Buffy was behind him.

Here he is canceling his bowling plans, explaining to his friend that he’s “stuck with the kids.” Ouch. Well, he didn’t know Buffy was behind him.

After he hangs up and begins talking to Buffy, the phone rings again.This time it’s one of his many lady friends, and he uses the expression “stuck with the kids” again.

Way to go, Uncle Bill. This time you knew she was nearby.

Way to go, Uncle Bill. This time you knew she was nearby.

(Note to Uncle Bill: You can’t really be “stuck with” your own kids. They’re kind of your responsibility.)

Uncle Bill and the twins go on to have a pleasant evening, but Uncle Bill’s words are still worrying Buffy at bedtime. Unfortunately, her insecurities make her easy prey from the evil force that blows in the next day from the mid-west.

Look, kids! It's Aunt Fran! The one who brought Buffy here and lft her because her husband couldn't get along with a 6-year-old orphan.

Look, kids! It’s Aunt Fran! The nice lady who brought Buffy here and left her because her husband couldn’t get along with a 6-year-old orphan.

Buffy's overjoyd to see her agin.

Buffy’s overjoyed to see her aunt again.

Aunt Fran tells Uncle Bill that Uncle Harold’s feelings have changed, and they both want Buffy back. Harold’s gotten a new job, they have a bigger house now, and they’ve hired “the Indiana version of Mr. French.” They’re even willing to take Cissy–isn’t that big of them? And Fran’s sister in Terre Haute will take Jody.

Of course, Uncle Bill wants the kids to stay with him, but Fran the Manipulator starts him doubting whether that’s what’s best for them. Everyday, he admits, people tell him how much better off kids are with a mother. (He must have some really rude friends.) Finally, he decides to leave it up to the kids.

Fran’s quick to work her magic on them, too.

Don't eat it, Buffy, Aunt Fran's probably put a spell on it.

Don’t eat it, Buffy, Aunt Fran’s probably put a spell on it.

She treats Buffy and Cissy to an afternoon of shopping, forbidden desserts, and mind games, convincing them that Uncle Bill would be happier without them.

The kids reluctantly agree, and Uncle Bill tries to conceal his heartbreak at their decision.

Uncle Bill and French share a sad conversation about the kids' impending departure. It would be more moving if this was the real Mr. French.

Uncle Bill and French share a sad conversation about the kids’ impending departure. It would be more moving if this was the real Mr. French.

(Note to Uncle Bill: You can often gauge kids’ attitudes through their demeanor as well as their words. If they say they want to return to Indiana, but they’re wearing expressions like those below, you may want to question them a little more.)

buffy upsetcissy upset

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