Actress Betty Lynn, Thelma Lou of ‘The Andy Griffith Show,’ dies age 95

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Actress Betty Lynn, who captured viewers’ hearts as the girlfriend of Don Knotts’ neurotic sheriff Barney Fife on “The Andy Griffith Show” in the 1960s, has died.

She was 95.

As Thelma Lou, the ginger-haired Lynn was in 26 “Andy Griffith” episodes from 1961 to 1966, though the veteran actress had had numerous roles on Broadway and in the movies in the 1940s and 1950s.

After Knotts left to pursue a movie career, sending his character, Barney Fife, off to a neighboring jurisdiction, Thelma Lou departed as well. Lynn’s last episode was in January 1966, when Barney tried to rekindle their characters’ romance but was instead introduced to her husband. A 1986 television movie saw the pair finally wed.

Lynn spent her last years in a retirement home in Mount Airy, North Carolina, the town that had served as the inspiration for Mayberry in the beloved series, and where she had lived since 1996. She died Saturday after a brief illness, according to the Andy Griffith Museum.

Former colleague Ron Howard, who played Sheriff Andy Taylor’s (Griffith) son Opie, called her a beacon of positivity.

“RIP Betty Lynn,” he wrote on Twitter. “She played Thelma Lou on TAGS & brightened every scene she was in & every shooting day she was on set. I saw her last a few years ago where she still lit up the room with her positivity. It was great to have known and worked with her. She truly was 95 years young.”

Lynn was known for serving as an ambassador for the series, regularly appearing there for events and to sign autographs.

A private burial service was planned in Culver City, California, with a memorial service at some future date, the museum said.

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