Kathy Garver still has a great love for Brian Keith.
The two starred in the beloved sitcom “Family Affair,” which aired from 1966 until 1971. The show, which told the tale of a bachelor who raises his orphaned nieces and nephew with the help of an English butler, also starred Sebastian Cabot, Anissa Jones and Johnny Whitaker.
Keith, who led a decades-long career in Hollywood, passed away in 1997 at age 75. In his lifetime, the star appeared in a variety of roles on both television and movies from the ‘50s through the ‘80s.
“Brian Keith was just a wonderful man,” Garver recently told Closer Weekly. “So talented and so giving of his time… He was a very loving person, and he loved kids. At the same time, he was this macho man and an ex-Marine. Those were kind of his duality, and it was really appealing.”
Portrait of the cast of the television series ‘Family Affair,’ August 10, 1966. Pictured, from left, are American actors Anissa Jones (1958 – 1976) as Buffy, Brian Keith (1921 – 1997) as Bill Davis, and Kathy Garver as Cissy, British actor Sebastian Cabot (1918 – 1977) as Mr. French, and American actor Johnny Whitaker as Jody. (Photo by CBS Photo Archive/Getty Images)
The 75-year-old told the outlet she has fond memories of her time on set. She noted that everyone’s unique acting style not only brought the show to life, but it resonated with fans.
“Sebastian Cabot, the terrific foil, who had a totally different acting style than Brian,” she said. “That combination served me well because I cherry-picked all their best aspects.”
And it doesn’t surprise her that the show has remained a beloved classic.
“Well, back then there were only three stations, so everybody in the entire United States watched it,” she said. “And not only were the stories very good, but I think the audience felt comfortable knowing what they were going to see. It’s a bite of nostalgia, a bite of comfort. There is so much unsureness, it’s nice to go for 22 minutes and just sit and watch something that’s simple and about love.”
Garver noted she has kept herself busy and has no reason to retire anytime soon. In fact, she is working on a “Family Affair” spinoff titled “Aunt Cissy” which will include the grandson of one of the show’s original creators.
Portrait of Brian Keith (as Bill Davis) on the CBS television program ‘Family Affair’ circa 1966. (Photo by CBS via Getty Images)
“I feel like I really am in my golden era,” she said. “I have never been busier. I am excited each day that I’m here. I like being older, and healthy and not feeling so put upon anymore. I can relax and just put on affirmative vibes and good things.”
Back in 2019, Garver told Fox News it was easy to develop a strong bond with her “Family Affair” castmates on set.
“We liked each other a lot, and got along very well,” she said at the time. “Of course, when you’re with somebody all day, it’s nice to go home to your own family, so we didn’t spend a lot of time outside of work. Anissa [Jones] came over to my house a couple of times and spent the night. But it was a really good professional, warm, working relationship.”
Garver also recalled how Keith was by her side during a dark time in history.
“… When Robert Kennedy was assassinated, I was just so upset,” she said. “Yet he was so comforting. He gave me a hug and was just so understanding. It’s unfortunate that sometimes something that’s very tragic can bring people together, but he was very supportive. He was a very warm and sensitive man. At the same token, [he was] a very macho guy. It was a great combo.”
Actress Kathy Garver attends the 5th Annual Roger Neal and Maryanne Lai Oscar Viewing Dinner-Icon Awards and After Party at The Hollywood Museum on February 09, 2020, in Hollywood, Calif. (Photo by Amanda Edwards/Getty Images)
As for her “Family Affair” character Cissy, Garver said she doesn’t miss her “because she’s never left me.”
“The whole character of Cissy was probably 80 percent of me anyway,” said Garver. “My style of acting, my way of looking at acting… I think you can’t be anybody except for who you are. You can put on a character and you can change your hair and change your wardrobe, and change the way you speak. However, your heart and your spirit, always a major thing.”
“I think that that is maybe one of the reasons someone can inspire others,” she said. “That’s the way someone can warm an audience. In my estimation, you can’t be anybody except for the spirit that you are. So, Cissy never left me. I’m still her.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.