Betty Lynn, best known for her portrayal of the redheaded, freckle-faced Thelma Lou on the classic "The Andy Griffith Show," has died. She was 95.
The Andy Griffith Museum announced Lynn's death on their website, adding that she died peacefully on Saturday due to an undisclosed but brief illness. A private burial service is planned in Culver City, California, and a memorial service will be announced at a later date.
"It has been my tremendous honor and joy to work with Betty and to be her friend for many years," longtime friend and colleague Tanya Jones, an executive director of Surry Arts Council, said in a statement to USA TODAY. "It was clear from our first encounter that faith, family, and friends and — very importantly — her fans are the things that meant the most to her. Betty brought so much joy and love to so many people."
The late actress appeared in 26 episodes of "The Andy Griffith Show" from 1961 to 1966. Lynn played Barney Fife's beloved sweetheart on the show.
"I had seen the 'Griffith' show twice before I went to read for the part," Lynn said, according to her obituary. "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.'"
She made one final appearance on "The Andy Griffith Show" during the show's sixth season.
In 1986, over 20 years since "The Andy Griffith Show," Lynn reprised her role of Thelma Lou when her character finally married Barney in "Return to Mayberry," the made-for-TV movie that aired on NBC. "Once we got there to film the movie, everything fell right into place," Lynn said. "The spark was still there."
But Lynn's career in Hollywood and show business began at a very young age.
At age 5, Lynn began studying dance, and was already acting and singing in supper clubs, as well as performing and doing commercial spots for local radio shows, at age 14. She also had a successful career on Broadway and was discovered by Daryl F. Zanuck in one of several plays.
During the 1940s and 1950s, Lynn appeared in many films, including "Sitting Pretty," "June Bride," the original "Cheaper by the Dozen" and "Meet Me In Las Vegas."
"Betty's performances onscreen and the memories of her by those who were fortunate to meet her and know her will enable those feelings to continue," Tanya Jones added. "She will truly be missed by me personally, by our town, and by the thousands of fans that meant so much to her.
Elizabeth Ann Theresa Lynn was born in Kansas City, Missouri, on Aug. 29, 1926. She was raised by her mother, Elizabeth Lynn, a mezzo-soprano and organist, and by her maternal grandparents Johanna and George Andrew Lynn, a longtime engineer for the Missouri Pacific Railroad.
Along with other members of the cast and crew of "The Andy Griffith Show," Lynn was a recipient of the TV Land Legend Award in 2004. In 2012, Lynn was an inaugural recipient of a star on the walkway at the entrance o the Andy Griffith Museum.
At the time of her death, Lynn was completing revisions on her autobiography.
A friend and fellow actor from the show, Elinor Donahue, said Lynn was "a dear and loving friend to all who knew her."
"Her talent will continue to bring joy to fans with 'The Andy Griffith Show.'"
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Betty Lynn, actress on TV classic 'The Andy Griffith Show,' dies at 95