‘The Andy Griffith Show’: Who Played Thelma Lou, Barney Fife’s Love Interest?

by Clayton Edwards
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“The Andy Griffith Show” is an iconic part of television history. One major reason for the show’s enduring popularity is the chemistry between its characters. Everyone in Mayberry worked so well off of one another. Because of this, watching the show feels like visiting a small Southern town where everyone knows everyone else. One of the many great relationships in Mayberry was that of Barney Fife and Thelma Lou. The talented, young, beautiful actress who played Deputy Fife’s love interest really brought out the best in their relationship. But, who was she?

Thelma Lou appeared in only twenty-six episodes of “The Andy Griffith Show,” over five years. However, she left a lasting impression on fans. Lynn left the show shortly after Don Knotts in 1966. Fans may have forgotten the character if not for the charm that Lynn brought to the role.

Betty Lynn’s Long Road to “The Andy Griffith Show”

Betty Lynn started appearing on “The Andy Griffith Show,” at the age of 35. While she would be best known as Thelma Lou, her career started nearly two decades before she arrived in Mayberry.

Betty Lynn got her start as a radio actress in her hometown of Kansas City, Missouri at the age of seventeen. Not long after that, she took up singing in local clubs. Her mother was a professional singer and helped Betty hone her voice from a young age.

One of her first big breaks came when the USO came to Kansas City and held auditions. Since she was underage, they could not take her on. However, they liked her performance so much that they told her to call them when she turned eighteen. So, she did. Soon she was traveling the east coast performing on military bases. Not long after that, Lynn went over seas to sing for American troops abroad. After traveling the world, she went back to Kansas City but would soon move to New York to look for work.

Like other movie stars at the time, she got her big acting break on Broadway. She went from Broadway to the silver screen, and then to Mayberry.

Thelma Lou Actress Looks Back on Mayberry

In a 2012 interview with Artist Chronicle, Betty Lynn discussed her time on “The Andy Griffith Show.” and the rest of her career. Before taking on the role of Thelma Lous, she says she bounced back and forth from Los Angeles, to New York with occasional stints in Kansas City. Lynn performed in long line of movies and television shows before landing in Mayberry.

Looking back on “The Andy Griffith Show,” she said, “I got to play opposite Don Knotts, who I loved. And Andy Griffith who I loved, We had the best cast of anybody. All of those people were great actors on that show and I loved it.”

Betty Lynn is more than happy to be best known as Thelma Lou. In fact, she said, “I will always be best known for ‘The Andy Griffith Show’ and gratefully because I love the show…I’m so grateful that I got to be on that show. People love the show.”

Today, Betty Lynn lives in Mount Airy, North Carolina. In the past, Mount Airy was not only the hometown of Andy Griffith but it was also the inspiration for Mayberry. Currently, the town is host to the Andy Griffith Museum as well as Thelma Lou.

Outsider.com