From 1966 to1971 Kathy Garver co-starred as Cissy in the beloved sitcom "Family Affair." The 69-year-old actress started acting as a child, appearing in films such as "The Ten Commandments," and still keeps busy doing voices for cartoons. Garver has penned a book, "Surviving Cissy," about her life and years in Hollywood. She spoke to FOX411 about it.
FOX411: Why do you think the show is so beloved?
Kathy Garver: I think one, it has a universal theme. It’s about disparate members of a family really caring for each other and loving each other and I believe that we all as human beings seek that love. And this particular television show shows how this can be accomplished. Two I think it relies on a classic theme. It has a classic writer’s storyline where they introduce a problem, they try to find a way to solve the problem and a resolution is found. I think that resonates and people can go back week after week knowing that the problem will be resolved, maybe not to their liking. We had a couple of dramatic tragic story endings where a little girl died so people don’t always get their way but I think it’s comforting to at least see the problem was tackled and solved.
FOX411: Do you still get fan mail?
Garver: It is really amazing to me. I have a Facebook and it’s all filled. On this book tour people have come up to me in tears saying, ‘I love that show so much. I was abused as a child and it was one of the only places I could go and get solace.’ So I think one of the reasons the show has endured is that it touched people emotionally so much and it has stayed with them.
FOX411: It's tragic what happened to co-star Anissa Jones (Buffy) who died of a drug overdose at 18.
Garver: When the show ended she really wanted nothing more to do with show business. This is why I have another book coming out called ‘Ex-Child Stars, Where Are They Now?’ I deal with the problem with child stars and how they really are so vulnerable and need to be protected. She was whipped off every weekend to do PR and she was 8-years-old when she started the series. Five years later in the top ten she’s 13 and she’s still carrying around a little doll with her hair in pigtails and short skirts. I really reached out and went to her 18th birthday party and her mother had come up to me and said, ‘You know I wish you could spend some time with Anlisa because she’s in the wrong crowd.’ And that crowd was taking drugs. Unfortunately I had to go away for a project and didn’t get back for two months and in that time she had died of a drug overdose.
FOX411: And her brother died of a drug overdose?
Garver: Yes that’s right.
FOX411: And Johnny Whitaker (Jody) had his issues.
Garver: Yes, he was almost penniless after the show and then he was depressed and divorced after a year and a half so he did drugs and alcohol and his family said, ‘Look you get off drugs and alcohol or we’re going to divorce you as a family’ so he did and now he helps people get off drugs.
FOX411: Brian Keith committed suicide.
Garver: He was given two weeks to live. He was always in charge of his life and he was going to be in charge of his own death kind of thing.
FOX411: You appeared in the 'The Ten Commandments' when you were 7. What was Charlton Heston like?
Garver: I just thought he was magnificent. We stayed friends till he died. He was gracious and generous and strong. We don't have a lot of real stronger guys that there were earlier on like Brian Keith was in the Marines. A lot of the stars were actually in the military and they were really strong characters. I liked that about Charlton and Brian.
FOX411: You talk about threads in the book.
Garver: I think our lives are connected by threads. We’re weaving our own quilts as we go along and it has been my experience that there are so many threads that connect people. Invisible threads, strong threads, sparkling threads, but I think there is so much interconnectivity between people and I acknowledge that and I see it all the time. I think some of that is divine.
FOX411: Faith plays a big part in your life.
Garver: Absolutely. I believe in a higher spirit.
FOX411: You got married later in life and had your son when you were 45.
Garver:I love being an older mother. He keeps me so young. He keeps me up with what's going on.
FOX411: You have a successful career as a cartoon voice.
Garver: I've done five animated series, one of them that I'm most well known for is the character Firestar in 'Spiderman and his Amazing Friends' and I've done about sixty odd books. I just keep on trekking.