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Old 10-08-2009, 08:38 PM   #1
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Cool 'Family Affair' Actress Offers Taste of '60s Show

If you're too young to know who Mrs. Beasley was, then you may not recognize the name Kathy Garver.

But for those of us who were watching television between 1966 and 1971, Garver will forever be remembered for her role as Cissy on the CBS television show Family Affair.

Garver, who played the teenage sister to twin characters Buffy and Jody, will be in Akron at the Northeast Ohio Fall Home Show to promote The Family Affair Cookbook, which debuted this summer.

When we chatted by phone, Garver was home in Santa Rosa, Calif., with a meatloaf in the oven. Garver said she has always loved to cook and intended to do a Family Affair cookbook for a while, but her plans were sidetracked after she suffered a house fire 10 years ago and lost a
lot of her recipes.

Since then she has worked to re-create them and eventually teamed up with writer Geoffrey Mark to make the book a reality. The timing coincides with the ongoing release of the five seasons of Family Affair on DVD, which Garver said is creating a wave of nostalgia over the show.

''The DVDs of Family Affair are out now and past TV stars never die, they just go into cyberspace or nostalgia,'' Garver said.

It is both a cookbook and a book about the show, with many never-before-seen photos of the cast and Garver's memories and anecdotes.

Family Affair was one of the most wholesome television shows of all time, with the orphaned Davis siblings being taken in by their Uncle Bill, played by Brian Keith, and cared for by Davis' butler, Mr. French, played by Sebastian Cabot. Buffy's doll, Mrs. Beasley, became a cultural icon of the day.

Garver said the show was so mild that it was one of the only U.S. television shows permitted to be shown in China when the Communist country first started allowing American shows to air.

''It was very wholesome and acceptable. There was no swearing, no violence and really great food,'' she said.

Like the TV show, Garver said the recipes in the book are good for the whole family.

The cookbook contains a chapter dedicated to each character, as well as foods that were actually served in various episodes. Buffy and Jody's chapters contain simple, kid-friendly recipes. The chapter on Uncle Bill has drink recipes, Garver said, since his character often would be seen having cocktails as was the fashion in the 1960s. She also included personal recipes from Cabot, who was a well-known gourmet.

Garver said she's been cooking most of her life, and with her 18-year-old son since he was small. ''He's a better cook than I am,'' she said.

Garver said she tends to follow recipes exactly, while her son likes to experiment. ''His dishes are always good, but different,'' she said. ''I'm more of a traditional cook.''

Her son is now a college freshman studying business and Garver said she wouldn't be surprised if he ends up in hotels or restaurants some day.

When we talked, Garver, 63, was in the process of taping a television commercial for Bridgestone Tires, which is set to debut during the 2010 Super Bowl. Garver is bound by a confidentiality agreement to not reveal any details about it, so she couldn't say if the commercial is tied to her role as Cissy.

Garver was 18 and a college freshman when she started work on Family Affair.

More than 40 years later, Cissy remains her best-known role, although Garver has had a busy career performing voice-over work in cartoons and commercials and narrating audio books. She also teaches voice and diction.

Garver has a supporting role in an upcoming movie, Power & Pride, a political thriller starring Stephen Baldwin and Eric Roberts, which is expected to be released at the end of the year. She also co-hosts a cable television show that airs in the San Francisco area, Backstage! with Barry & Kathy, in which Garver and her co-host Barry Barsamian conduct celebrity interviews.

''We just interviewed Jane Russell, who is 88 years old now. We talk to a lot of show business people and my child-star friends,'' she said. Negotiations are in progress for syndicating the show, so it could soon have a national audience.

The foreword to the cookbook was written by another 1960s TV icon, Dawn Wells, who played Mary Ann on Gilligan's Island. Garver said she and Wells are teaming up on another book.

Garver is scheduled to be on That's Life with Robin Swoboda at 10 a.m. Oct. 15 on WJW (Channel 8), where she is to prepare a hearts of palm salad. She'll be at the home show at Akron's John S. Knight Center from 4 to 8 p.m. Oct. 16, and 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Oct. 17. Copies of her cookbook will be on sale and she'll be autographing them.

The Family Affair Cookbook, which sells for $19.95, can also be ordered from Garver's Web site, or at
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Old 10-08-2009, 08:53 PM   #2
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I actually saw Kathy Garver in person in Tombstone, AZ at the Western Film Festival. There was a screening of The Big Valley episode entitled "The Royal Road" from 1969 - and she stayed afterwards for a Q & A. She discussed her appearance on that show, her Family Affair years, and her present career as a voiceover artist. Thanks for posting this article, Charles.
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Old 10-08-2009, 09:15 PM   #3
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That does it, now I'll HAVE to buy the 1 and 1/2 set of The Big Valley on DVD I've been putting off (Season 1 + first half of 2, unless I'm mistaken). I really want to see Kathy in Season 4, so I'll do my part until then!

I hope there's a recipe in her book for the big peanut butter and aspirin sandwich Jody and Buffy made for the ailing Mr. French....! LOL
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Old 10-08-2009, 09:17 PM   #4
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I saw her in 2005 and she was very sweet. She also has a Facebook page.
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