Betty Lynn, Actress Who Played Thelma Lou on The Andy Griffith Show, Has Died
Sad news out of Mayberry. Betty Lynn, who played Barney Fife's longtime love interest Thelma Lou on The Andy Griffith Show, has died. She was 95 years old.
The Andy Griffith Museum in Mount Airy, North Carolina, shared the news on Facebook Sunday morning.
"It is with an extremely heavy heart that we announce the passing of Betty Lynn," the museum wrote alongside her obituary. "Thank you to all for your prayers, cards, and love. Betty will be dearly missed by all of us."
Born Elizabeth Ann Theresa Lynn on August 29, 1926, in Kansas City, Missouri, Lynn began performing as a part of USO Camp Shows in 1944. She was one of the first Americans to visit American POWs in Calcutta and is thought to be the only American woman to have traveled the dangerous Burma Road during WWII.
Lynn was recognized for her service "above and beyond the call of duty" with a special commendation from the U.S. War Department. She was later named Honorary Colonel in the American Legion.
After the war, Lynn began acting in film and later became a "fixture" in television Westerns. She was approached by The Andy Griffith Show in 1961.
"I had seen the Griffith show twice before I went to read for the part," Betty recalled, per her obituary, "I remember that I laughed out loud—it was so funny. I didn't do that very often. I thought, Gee, this is really unusual."
In all, Lynn appeared in 26 Griffith episodes which aired between 1961 and 1966. She reprised the role of Thelma Lou 20 years later in the made-for-TV movie Return to Mayberry, in which she and Barney finally got married.
Ron Howard, who played Sheriff Andy Taylor's son, Opie, paid tribute to Lynn on Twitter. She "brightened every scene she was in & every shooting day she was on set," he wrote.
Lynn reportedly moved from Hollywood to Mount Airy in 2007 following a series of break-ins at her home. She is survived by several cousins and a legion of devoted fans.
"Betty's performances as Thelma Lou and in other roles will continue to entertain generations of appreciative audiences," the museum's post concludes. "More than that, all who ever encountered Betty are forever grateful to have known such a truly beautiful soul."
Rest in peace, Miss Betty.