Johnny Whitaker

Johnny Whitaker

A recovering addict since 1997, he has served to help others. He is President and Founder of Paso Por Paso, a California 501 (c)3 corporation dedicated to helping Spanish-speaking addicts / alcoholics find treatment and recovery.

At one point he and two of his sisters and a brother were in a variety act called The Johnny Whitaker Show where they performed at fairs and Mormon church get-togethers.

Began his acting career at the age of three. He was discovered while singing in his church's children's program, where he broke up the entire congregation after he'd forgotten the words to the song and started to improvise with his own. He went on to do his first on-air performance in a commercial for OK Used Cars.

Best known by the public for his role as Jody Davis on "Family Affair" (1966).

Brother of Billy and Dora Whitaker.

Changed the spelling of his first name "Johnnie" to the more adult "Johnny" around 1973.

Co-starred with young Jodie Foster twice in films. The first time was in Disney's Napoleon and Samantha (1972), and then she played Becky Thatcher to his Tom Sawyer (1973). He made national tours for the "Tom Sawyer" line of boys' clothing after being cast in the the musical film. Eventually the same firm put out a "Johnnie Whitaker" line as well.

Finding it harder to transition into young adult roles and following the tragic death of his 18-year-old "Family Affair" (1966) co-star Anissa Jones, Johnny took what was supposed to be an extended sabbatical from acting and a return to "normalcy" by attending public schools again. He instead went into missionary work.

For 13 years, Johnny worked closely with the joint SAG/AFTRA Young Performer's Committee helping current young performers receive the benefits and prepare them for the detriments that a career in show business is likely to produce.

Graduated from Sylmar High School outside of Los Angeles after "Family Affair" (1966) was canceled. He then spent two years in Portugal as a full-time, volunteer missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. When he returned to the US, he attended Brigham Young University and obtained a degree in communications in 1986.

He gave Jodie Foster her first on-screen kiss in Tom Sawyer (1973).

He was divorced in 1988. He went through a 12 step program to rid himself of drug dependency.

He was the fifth of eight children born to Thelma and John O. Whitaker, Sr. He was born at 12:14 AM, Pacific Standard Time.

He was the only six-year-old who screen-tested for the role of Jody Davis in "Family Affair" (1966), which originally was supposed to be for a ten-year-old boy, but when the producers saw the chemistry between he and Anissa Jones (Buffy), they promptly rewrote the parts for six-year-old twins.

His first film, The Russians Are Coming the Russians Are Coming (1966) co-starred Brian Keith. He and Keith got along so well that Keith was instrumental in setting him up for an interview with the producers of "Family Affair" (1966), in which he was eventually cast as Keith's nephew.

His sister, Dora Whitaker is a well-established talent agent in North Hollywood, California.

In 1999, he received the Former Child Star Lifetime Achievement Award at the Young Artist Awards.

In June of 1984 he married a theatrical agent named Symbria Wright. They divorced four years later.

Interviewed in "Growing Up on the Set: Interviews with 39 Former Child Actors of Classic Film and Television" by Tom Goldrup and Jim Goldrup (McFarland, 2002).

Originated the role of Scotty Baldwin, a "General Hospital" (1963) character still seen on the show.