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

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Betty Lynn, the film and television actress best known for playing Barney Fife’s sweetheart Thelma Lou on “The Andy Griffith Show,” has died. She was 95.

The star passed away peacefully on Saturday after a brief illness, The Andy Griffith Museum in Mount Airy, North Carolina, announced in a statement.

Lynn appeared as Thelma Lou in the hit series from 1961 until 1966. She reprised her role in “Return to Mayberry,” the made-for-TV movie where she and Fife (Don Knotts) got married.

Don Knotts as Barney Fife, Betty Lynn as Thelma Lou.
(Photo by: Frank Carrroll/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images via Getty Images)

Born Elizabeth Ann Theresa Lynn on August 29, 1926, in Kansas City, Missouri, Lynn began studying dance and acting at a young age. In 1944, she started performing as a part of USO Camp Shows.

Lynn took her talents overseas, performing in the USO for servicemembers during World War II. According to the museum, she was “thought to be the only American woman to have traveled the dangerous Burma Road during the war.”

She moved to New York in the late 1940s and began acting in film, and later, television. While she has led a successful decades-long career as an actress, fans remember her best for her role in “The Andy Griffith Show.”

Director and actor Ron Howard, who played Sheriff Andy Taylor’s son, Opie, paid tribute to Lynn in a tweet on Sunday stating she “brightened every scene she was in & every shooting day she was on set.”

In her later years, Lynn participated in reunions with fellow cast members and various Mayberry-themed festivals. Knotts passed away in 2006 at age 81.

Lynn moved from Hollywood to Mount Airy in 2007 following a series of break-ins at her home. She expressed her love for the city to The Associated Press in 2015.

Actress Betty Lynn, who played Thelma Lou on ‘The Andy Griffith Show,’ pays her respects at the Andy Griffith statue in Mt. Airy, North Carolina, on Tuesday, July 3, 2012. The actor passed away that year at age 86.
(Todd Sumlin/Charlotte Observer/Tribune News Service via Getty Images)

“I think God’s blessed me,” Lynn said at the time. “He brought me to a sweet town, wonderful people, and just said, ‘Now, that’s for you, Betty.’”

The museum shared that Lynn had been working on an autobiography before her death. The book is now expected to be released posthumously.

Lynn is survived by several cousins. A memorial service will take place in Culver City, Calif.  Details are to be released at a later date.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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