The actress famous for portraying Thelma Lou on "The Andy Griffith Show” has died.
Betty Lynn, 95, the TV, radio and movie star who performed for American soldiers in war zones in Southeast Asia during WWII, died Saturday after a brief illness.
“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 Andy Griffith Museum announced on its Facebook page.
Lynn played Barney Fife’s girlfriend, Thelma Lou, on the show for 26 episodes between 1961 and 1966.
“Of Griffith actors still living at the time of Betty’s death, only Ron Howard appeared in more episodes of the series than Betty,” the museum said.
The Missouri native began studying dance at age 5 and was performing by the age of 14 on local radio shows, where she was discovered by scouts for the United Service Organizations.
“She and guitarist Tommy Decker began their overseas tour with stops in Casablanca and then Iran before eventually making their way to the war’s China-Burma-India Theater, where they visited and performed for servicemen throughout much of the war zone, but with their primary mission being to console and entertain wounded servicemen at military hospitals,” the museum said.
Lynn was honored after the war with a special commendation from the U.S. War Department and as an Honorary Colonel in the American Legion.
After the war, Lynn moved to New York City and later Hollywood to pursue an acting career. She performed in roles with Twentieth Century-Fox, RKO, MGM and Universal. Her film performances included “Cheaper by the Dozen,” “Many Rivers to Cross” and “Behind the High Wall.”
She also acted in television shows like the comedy “Where’s Raymond,” “Peg O’ My Heart” and many others.
“Betty was a fixture in television Westerns during the 1950s and 1960s. A partial roundup includes episodes of “Bronco,” “Wagon Train,” “Cheyenne,” “Tales of Wells Fargo” and “Sugarfoot,” as well as being co-star for two seasons of “Disney Presents: Texas John Slaughter with Tom Tryon,”” the museum wrote.
In the 1990s she joined "Andy Griffith" cast reunion events and festivals around the country.
“The fans are so sweet,” Betty said. “I really love meeting them and having the chance to visit a little bit. They come from all over the country. It’s so touching that they still remember my movies and love The Andy Griffith Show like they do. And especially for the Griffith show, there are lots of young children who are fans, too. So, I think the show’s popularity is carrying on through the new generations. That makes me happy.”
She died peacefully on Saturday, the museum reported.
A private burial service will be held in Culver City, California.
“It is with an extremely heavy heart that we announce the passing of Betty Lynn. Thank you to all for your prayers, cards and love,” the museum wrote.
“Betty will be dearly missed by all of us. We love you, Betty.”
— Sarah Whites-Koditschek, al.com