The Everett Collection

Sebastian Cabot said he developed a ''motherly image'' while on Family Affair

Sebastian Cabot was the dapper "gentleman's gentleman" in the CBS series Family Affair. He played the role of Mr. Giles French, the British butler and caretaker to the Davis family.

His character was in charge of managing the entire household, which included Bill Davis (Brian Keith), Cissy Davis (Kathy Garver), Jody Davis (Johnny Whitaker) and Buffy Davis (Anissa Jones). 

He was the character who offered guidance, advice and affection to Bill Davis' three kids. Mr. French's attentiveness and care towards the children influenced the way people saw his character onscreen.

Although Mr. French was a great butler, according to a 1968 interview with The Tampa Tribune, Cabot said he was an even better onscreen "mom." 

"They look upon Brian as the father image and make me the mother image, I regret to say," Cabot said. 

His character's British charm and the love he shared for the kids made him the perfect parental figure. According to the interview, Cabot said Mr. French had an "extremely English outlook" and "certain aspects of American life appalled his character." 

With that, the character spent a lot of his time not only caring for the kids, but trying to instill life lessons in them as well. 

Cabot wasn't just a hit with his Family Affair family; the series maintained a respectable position among other family-based television programs at the time. For a character who was all about family, the series became highly rated among families at home.

"We have a faithful family audience," Cabot said. "People identify with us, and remember their own kids doing the same pranks. They feel it is their own life. They can draw faint comparisons."

Although Cabot played the role of a butler, according to the interview, he said he would never employ a butler of his own. No offense to his character, but he just didn't need the help at home.

"I'm uncomfortable giving orders," Cabot said. "You are supposed to tell a servant what to do, not ask him, and I'm afraid I just wouldn't feel at ease giving commands."

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