Betty Lynn, who starred as Barney Fife's girlfriend Thelma Lou on The Andy Griffith Show, died on Friday. She was 95. Lynn also starred in several films during the 1940s and 1950s, including the original Cheaper by the Dozen, Meet Me in Las Vegas, and June Bride.
Lynn died in Mount Airy, North Carolina following a short illness, the Andy Griffith Museum announced. She moved to Mount Airy, where Andy Griffith was born, in 2006 and often met fans at the museum to sign autographs. A private burial service will take place in Culver City, California and a public memorial will be announced later. In lieu of flowers, fans are asked to make donations in her memory to the Betty Lynn Scholarship Endowment, the Barbara and Emmett Forrest Endowment Fund, or to a charity of the donor's choice.
Lynn was born in Kansas City, Missouri and participated in USO tours as a teenager. She began acting on radio in Kansas City before she moved to Broadway. She performed in productions of Oklahoma! and Park Avenue before 20th Century Fox studio chief Darryl F. Zanuck signed her to a contract. Her first film was Sitting Pretty (1948) with Maureen O'Hara. In 1950, she starred in the original Cheaper by the Dozen. She made two movies with Bette Davis, June Bride (1948) and Payment on Demand (1951). Her final films, Louisiana Hussy and The Hangman, were both released in 1959.
In the late 1950s, she began regularly appearing on television, guest-starring in episodes of M Squad, Lawman, Wagon Train, and Tales of Wells Fargo. In 1960, she was cast as Thelma Lou, opposite Don Knotts' Barney Fife on The Andy Griffith Show, appearing in 26 episodes through the first six seasons. She left when Barney left Mayberry to join the Raleigh Police Department. Lynn played Thelma Lou one more time in the 1986 TV movie Return to Mayberry, in which she and Barney finally get married.
During a 2012 interview, Lynn said her interest in live television plays killed her movie career, notes The Hollywood Reporter. "The studios hated television," she noted. "When they asked me what I had been doing, I said, 'I've been doing live television, it's absolutely wonderful, it's like doing a play!' They'd all just freeze. I didn't understand that they were having great difficulty because people were staying home instead of going to the movies. I was making a complete fool of myself."
Lynn also appeared in episodes of My Three Sons, Family Affair, Little House on the Prairie, The Farmer's Daughter, and The Smothers Brothers Show. In 1986, she reunited with Griffith to star in four episodes of Matlock. Lynn's last credited appearance came in an episode of Shades of LA in 1990.