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Betty Lynn, ‘Andy Griffith Show’ cast member, dies at 95

Published: Oct. 17, 2021 at 4:42 PM EDT|Updated: Oct. 17, 2021 at 5:41 PM EDT
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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - Actress Betty Lynn, who portrayed the girlfriend of Don Knotts’ Deputy Barney Fife in “The Andy Griffith Show” died Saturday.

The news comes from the Andy Griffith Show Museum in Mount Airy, North Carolina, which said the actress was 95 years old.

Lynn portrayed Thelma Lou, whose last name was never revealed on the classic situation comedy.

The museum posted a photo gallery of images showing Lynn meeting fans of the series. She appeared once a month at the museum to meet fans and sign autographs.

Director Ron Howard, who portrayed Griffith’s young son, Opie Taylor, remembered his co-star on Twitter Saturday afternoon, saying Lynn “brightened every scene she was in.”

“I saw her last a few years ago and she still lit up the room with her positivity,” he wrote. “It was great to have known and worked with her.”

For her 90th birthday in 2016, North Carolina Lt. Gov. Dan Forest awarded Lynn the Order of the Long Leaf Pine, North Carolina’s highest civilian honor.

In a 2018 interview, Lynn told WYMT-TV that people who visited Mount Airy, which was Griffith’s hometown, were very good to her.

“They hug me and they kiss me, they really feel they know me,” she said. “They’ve grown up with me. They think I’m a relative, they think.”

When asked how she would like to be remembered, Lynn gave an answer which might come as a surprise.

“People don’t have to remember me. I don’t think it’s necessary that I be remembered,” she said. “They could say a prayer. You know, most people feel they’ll get to heaven and I’m not sure I will. But I want to. So if they’ll pray for me, I’d appreciate that. I can’t think of anything else.”

“The Andy Griffith Show” premiered on CBS on Oct. 3, 1960, after audiences met the character of Sheriff Andy Taylor when Danny Thomas made a visit to the fictional town of Mayberry, North Carolina, during an episode of “The Danny Thomas Show” that served as a pilot episode. The program ran for eight years.

Lynn played the role for five years but only appeared in a total of 26 episodes.

Her character was dropped after the fifth season when Knotts left the series. But she made one appearance in a sixth-season episode titled “The Return of Barney Fife” and fans learned she had been married to another man.

Lynn appeared as Thelma Lou again in a 1986 made-for-TV movie called “Return to Mayberry.” That film made no mention of her marriage. But the movie ended with Thelma Lou and Barney Fife finally marrying.

Born Aug. 29, 1926 in Kansas City, Missouri, she came from a music background and began her career in supper clubs and on Broadway, according to the Internet Movie Database.

Her first film was “Sitting Pretty” in 1948. On the big screen, she would appear with Bette Davis, Fred MacMurray, and Maureen O’Hara. She also appeared on TV in guest roles on “Family Affair,” “My Three Sons,” “Little House on the Prairie,” and “Barnaby Jones,” IMDB states.

She was reunited with Griffith for a few episodes of his series, “Matlock” in 1986.

A private burial service is planned in Culver City, California, a release from the museum states.

A memorial service will be announced at a later date.

In lieu of flowers, donations in Betty’s memory may be made to the Betty Lynn Scholarship Endowment (for students pursuing a career in dance or acting) or the Barbara and Emmett Forrest Endowment Fund (for the Andy Griffith Museum and Mayberry Days), both in care of Surry Arts Council, P.O. Box 141, Mount Airy, NC 27030; or Holy Angels Roman Catholic Church, 1208 N Main Street, Mount Airy NC 27030, or a charity of the donor’s choice.

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