Betty Lynn Dies

Barney + Thelma Lou!

I remember her from being Barney’s girlfriend, Thelma Lou, on “The Andy Griffith Show” from 1961 to 1966. Betty was born in Kansas City, Missouri, on August 29, 1926. Her mom was “an accomplished mezzo-soprano” who taught Betty to sing.

At 17 she auditioned to participate in United Service Organizations entertainment (USO) and, at 18 years old, traveled on the China Burma India Theater tour. During this stint, she learned some 725 songs.

In 1948 Betty Lynn got her first acting role as the wife in “Apartment for Peggy”. The same year she acted in “Sitting Pretty” and “June Bride” with Bette Davis and Robert Montgomery. The next year she was in “Mother is a Freshman” starring Loretta Young and “Father was a Fullback” starring Fred MacMurray, Maureen O’Hara, and Natalie Wood.

In 1950 Betty appeared as Dorothy Lancaster in “Cheaper by the Dozen” and in 1951 she again appeared with Bette Davis in “Payment on Demand”. It was the same year that she played Marge in “Take Care of My Little Girl”. She was the young bride in the 1956 “Meet Me in Las Vegas” and 1957 saw her as Claire in “Gun for a Coward” again starring Mr. MacMurray. In 1958 (the year I was born) she got some TV episodes, “M Squad”, “Lawman”, “Wagon Train”, and “Bronco”.

In 1959 she would act in her last two movies, “Louisiana Hussy” and “The Hangman” which starred Robert Taylor, Tina Louise (Ginger on Gilligan’s Island), Fess Parker (Davey Crockett and Daniel Boone), and Jack Lord (Hawaii 5-0). Her television appearances continued that year with ‘Tales of Wells Fargo”, “Mickey Spillane’s Mike Hammer”, and “Sugarfoot” the show that rotated with “Cheyenne”.

In 1960 and 1961 she would appear in 8 episodes of “Texas John Slaughter” a Disney Western and would start her 26 episode run on “The Andy Griffith Show”, lasting until 1966. Also in 1960, she appeared as Barbara in “National Velvet”. In 1963 Betty played Sylvia in “The Farmers Daughter” and Vera on “The Smothers Brothers Show” in 1965.

she brightened every scene she was in & every shooting day she was on set

Ron Howard

From 1967 to 1970 she played Janet in 7 episodes of “My Three Sons” (Fred MacMurray again), and also played Miss Lee in 4 episodes of “Family Affair” (Brian Keith). In 1969 Betty appeared on “The Mod Squad” and then in 1974 played Bridget on “Little House on the Prairie”(Michael Landon). In 1978 she appeared on “Barnaby Jones” (Buddy Ebsen) and one of her last roles was Sarah on “Matlock” (Andy Griffith again) for 4 episodes.

In 2006, Betty Lynn moved to Mount Airy, North Carolina, and regularly appeared at the Andy Griffith Museum, which the Surry Arts Council operates there, to sign autographs. She died after a brief illness on October 16, 2021, at the age of 95. She was working on her autobiography, which is set to be released posthumously. I’ll always smile when I remember her as Thelma Lou!

Author: Doyle

I was born in Atlanta, moved to Alpharetta at 4, lived there for 53 years and moved to Decatur in 2016. I've worked at such places as Richway, North Fulton Medical Center, Management Science America (Computer Tech/Project Manager) and Stacy's Compounding Pharmacy (Pharmacy Tech).

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