Maggie Peterson, ‘The Andy Griffith Show’ Actress, Dead at 81

by Joe Rutland
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Actress Maggie Peterson, best known for playing love-struck Charlene Darling on the classic TV show The Andy Griffith Show, has died. She was 81 years old. Peterson died Sunday in Colorado, according to a family announcement on Facebook. The family did say that Peterson’s health “took a turn for the worse” after her husband died in December. Peterson was married to Las Vegas-based jazz musician Gus Mancuso for more than 40 years.

Peterson first appeared on CBS’ The Andy Griffith Show as Charlene in 1963 near the end of the comedy’s third season. In that episode, she did sing the classic song Salty Dog but reprised it later on the show. In this clip, Peterson sings with the bluegrass band The Dillards and actor Denver Pyle, who played Briscoe Darling.

In another episode, Peterson would share a wedding dress with Don Knotts, who played Deputy Barney Fife. One of her early appearances also coincides with one from Bob Denver before his Gilligan’s Island days. Charlene did have the romantic looks for Griffith’s Sheriff Andy Taylor, too. One of her final appearances was as another character in the episode A Girl for Goober. George Lindsey played Goober Pyle, working at the Mayberry gas station.

Maggie Peterson of ‘The Andy Griffith Show’ Tried Out For Role as Andy’s Love Interest

Ironically, Peterson did audition to play a love interest for Griffith’s Sheriff Andy Taylor. That role went to Elinor Donahue as Ellie Walker. Still, Charlene would end up marrying Dud Wash, played by Hoke Howell, on the show. We get more from The Hollywood Reporter. Margaret Ann Peterson was born on Jan. 10, 1941, in Greeley, Colo. For her parents, Dad was a doctor and Mom was a homemaker.

Her TV career, though, goes back to 1964 as she would have a role on The Bill Dana Show. Dada was a comedian who did make his name for portraying Jose’ Jimenez on The Steve Allen Show. He managed to get a half-hour show and it spun off from the Danny Thomas sitcom Make Room for Daddy. Peterson appears as Susie, a coffee shop waitress, in the Dana show’s second and last season.

Peterson would also appear as Charlene in the 1986 TV movie Return to Mayberry. Other shows included Green Acres, Gomer Pyle: USMC, and The Odd Couple. She got her show business start with her brother and two friends of his. They would form the Ja-Da Quartet. Spotted by Griffith’s manager, they were invited to New York. The group appeared on The Perry Como Show and The Pat Boone Show. In 1969, Peterson had roles in two movies: Angel in My Pocket starring Griffith, and The Love God? starring Knotts.

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