Actress Betty Lynn, who played Thelma Lou on ‘The Andy Griffith Show,’ dead at 95

MOUNT AIRY, N.C. — Actress Betty Lynn, best known for her portrayal of Thelma Lou on “The Andy Griffith Show,” died Saturday following a brief illness at the age of 95, The Andy Griffith Museum confirmed.

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Lynn had moved in 2006 to Mount Airy, North Carolina, the birthplace of actor Andy Griffith, where she lived in a retirement home and regularly signed autographs “and delighted fans” at the museum dedicated to the show’s namesake, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Most recognized for her role as character Barney Fife’s wholesome sweetheart, whom she portrayed in 26 episodes spanning 1961 to 1966, Lynn appeared in various films and TV shows through the years and reprised her role as Thelma Lou in the 1986 TV movie “Return to Mayberry,” where Thelma Lou and Barney finally got married, the Winston-Salem Journal reported.

According to THR, Lynn’s film credits include “June Bride,” “Cheaper by the Dozen,” “Mother is a Freshman,” “Father was a Fullback” and “Payment on Demand.” She also reunited with Griffith to play his secretary on a handful of “Matlock” episodes in 1986.

The Kansas City, Missouri, native also performed for the United Service Organizations, or USO, and on Broadway, according to the Winston-Salem Journal.

In addition to her Mayberry fame, Lynn’s recurring TV roles included “Family Affair” and “My Three Sons,” as well as stints on “The Farmer’s Daughter,” “Mod Squad,” “Little House on the Prairie” and “Barnaby Jones.”

An announcement of her death said that “she is survived by several cousins, many cherished friends and countless adoring fans. Betty’s performances as Thelma Lou and in other roles will continue to entertain generations of appreciative audiences. More than that, all who ever encountered Betty are forever grateful to have known such a truly beautiful soul,” the newspaper reported.

A private burial service is planned in Culver City, California, with a memorial service to be announced at a later date, according to The Andy Griffith Museum.

Donations in Lynn’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 St., Mount Airy, NC 27030.

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