MOUNT AIRY, N.C. (WGHP) — Actress Betty Lynn, most known for her role as Thelma Lou on ‘The Andy Griffith Show,’ died over the weekend, according to Andy Griffith Museum.
Lynn died after a brief illness on Saturday. She was 95.
She was born Elizabeth Ann Theresa Lynn on August 29, 1926, in Kansas City, Mo. She was raised by her mother.
Lynn’s character on ‘The Andy Griffith Show’ was Barney Fife’s girlfriend, Thelma Lou.
“I had seen the Griffith show twice before I went to read for the part,” Betty recalled. “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.’”
Lynn was in 26 episodes of ‘The Andy Griffith Show,’ which were broadcast between 1961 and 1966 and spanned the show’s first six seasons.
She began studying dance when she was five and was acting and singing at age 14. In 1944, when she turned 18, she began performing for USO Camp Shows in the US.
She then went overseas, including extensive time in the China-Burma-India Theater, in 1945 where she entertained the troops and visited injured servicemen.
After the war, she returned to New York and caught the attention of Hollywood scouts. Twentieth Century-Fox signed her to a multi-year contract.
Lynn made several movies for Fox, RKO, MGM and Universal, including:
- “June Bride”
- “Mother Is a Freshman”
- “Father Was a Fullback”
- “Cheaper by the Dozen”
- “Payment on Demand”
She also performed in several stage productions and appeared in multiple shows during the early years of television.
She was under contract with Disney when producers for The Andy Griffith Show contacted her about playing Barney Fife’s girlfriend, Thelma Lou. Disney agreed to release Lynn to work on “The Andy Griffith show.”
Her recurring role as Thelma Lou spanned parts of the first six seasons. She also joined others from the cast for the “Return to Mayberry” reunion movie for NBC-TV in 1986.
She was a devout Roman Catholic. She is survived by multiple cousins, friends and fans of her work.
Donations in Lynn’s memory can be made to the Betty Lynn Scholarship Endowment, which is for students pursuing a career in dance or acting, or the Barbara and Emmett Forrest Endowment Fund. Both are in the 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.