August 29, 1926 - October 16, 2021
Elizabeth Ann Theresa "Betty" Lynn, 95, of Mount Airy, died peacefully in Surry County on Saturday, October 16, 2021, after a brief illness. Betty was an actress best known for her portrayal of Thelma Lou, Barney Fife's sweetheart on The Andy Griffith Show. After living in Los Angeles, CA, for six decades, she moved to Mount Airy in 2007. Betty was born in Kansas City, MO, on August 29, 1926. She was raised by her mother, Elizabeth Lynn, and her maternal grandparents, Johanna and George Andrew Lynn. At age 5, Betty began studying dance, and by age 14, she was acting and singing in supper clubs, as well as performing and doing commercial spots for local radio shows. As soon as she turned 18 in 1944, Betty began performing for USO Camp Shows in the United States. She then went overseas, including extensive time in the China-Burma-India Theater, where she entertained the troops and visited injured servicemen throughout the first half of 1945. Betty returned to New York City after the war and quickly found work. She was touring the Northeast with Park Avenue in preparation for that new show's Broadway run when she caught the attention of Hollywood scouts. Twentieth Century-Fox signed her to a multi-year contract. Betty made several movies for Fox and others, including RKO, MGM, and Universal. Among her films were June Bride, Mother Is a Freshman, Father Was a Fullback, Cheaper by the Dozen, and Payment on Demand. Betty also performed in several stage productions, and she appeared in numerous shows during the early years of television. She was under contract with Disney for its Texas John Slaughter series when producers for The Andy Griffith Show contacted her about playing Barney Fife's girlfriend, Thelma Lou. Fortunately for Barney, Mayberry, and generations of TV viewers, Disney was in the process of winding down its production of Texas John Slaughter and therefore agreed to release Betty to work on the Griffith show. Betty's recurring role as Thelma Lou spanned parts of the first six seasons of the legendary series. She also joined others from the Griffith cast for the Return to Mayberry reunion movie for NBC-TV in 1986. A lifelong devout Roman Catholic, Betty was a longtime member of St. Timothy Catholic Church in Los Angeles. After moving to Mount Airy, she joined the local Holy Angels Catholic Church. Betty is survived by several cousins, many cherished friends, and countless adoring fans. Betty's performances as Thelma Lou and in other roles will continue to entertain generations of appreciative audiences. More than that, all who ever encountered Betty are forever grateful to have known such a truly beautiful soul. A private burial service is planned in Culver City, CA. A memorial service will be announced at a later date. In lieu of flowers, donations in Betty's memory may be made to the Betty Lynn Scholarship Endowment (for students pursuing a career in dance or acting) or the Barbara and Emmett Forrest Endowment Fund (for the Andy Griffith Museum and Mayberry Days), both in care of Surry Arts Council, P.O. Box 141, Mount Airy, NC 27030; Holy Angels Roman Catholic Church, 1208 North Main Street, Mount Airy, NC 27030; or a charity of the donor's choice
. Moody Funeral Services in Mount Airy is entrusted with Mrs. Lynn's service. Online condolences may be made at www.moodyfuneralservices.com
Moody Funeral Services, Inc.
206 West Pine Street, Mount Airy, North Carolina 27030
Published by Winston-Salem Journal on Oct. 19, 2021.