Elizabeth Ann Theresa "Betty" Lynn (born August 29, 1926) is a retired American actress. She is best known for her role as Thelma Lou, Deputy Barney Fife's girlfriend, on The Andy Griffith Show. During the 1940s and 1950s, she appeared in many films, including Sitting Pretty (1948), June Bride (1948), the original Cheaper by the Dozen (1950) and Meet Me in Las Vegas (1956).
Betty Lynn and Ian Oliver Martin in 2011
Elizabeth Ann Theresa Lynn
August 29, 1926
Kansas City, Missouri, U.S.
|Other names||Betty Ann Lynn|
Betty Lynn was born in Kansas City, Missouri, Her mother, Elizabeth Ann Lynn, was "an accomplished mezzo-soprano" who taught Betty to sing and started her in the Kansas City Conservatory of Music when she was 5 years old.
Lynn had little personal contact with her father, who once reportedly threatened to shoot her mother in the abdomen when she was pregnant. After Lynn's birth, her mother once took shelter in a locked closet with the baby as her husband threatened the two. They divorced when Lynn was 5 years old. Lynn's grandfather, George Andrew Lynn, a railroad engineer, took on the role of father as she grew up.
When she was 17, Lynn auditioned to participate in United Service Organizations entertainment. At age 18 she was part of a USO tour in the China Burma India Theater. She realized the gravity of the situation when a Marine gave her a pistol saying, "You might need this."
Her activities on the tour included visiting patients in hospitals and singing requests from a repertoire of 725 songs. She also met recently released prisoners of war from Rangoon, and she was told by a doctor, "Most of them will be out of their minds in six months."
Betty Lynn began her acting career in radio as a member of the cast on a daytime drama on a station in Kansas City.
On Broadway, she appeared in Walk with Music (1940), Oklahoma! (1943), and Park Avenue (1946). She was discovered in a Broadway production by Darryl F. Zanuck and signed to 20th Century Fox. A clause in her contract allowed the studio to drop her at six-month intervals, leading to recurring concerns for Lynn. She said, "I was a redhead with freckles and didn’t have a bosom. I prayed so hard they’d keep picking me up."
Lynn made her film debut in the 1948 film Sitting Pretty, which won a Photoplay Gold Medal. That same year, she appeared in June Bride with Bette Davis followed by roles in Mother Is a Freshman (1949), Cheaper by the Dozen (1950), and Payment on Demand (1951).
Lynn replaced Patricia Kirkland in the role of Betty Blake in the CBS comedy, The Egg and I (1951-1952), and she played Pearl in the ABC comedy Love That Jill (1958).:631 During this time she became neighbor to an infant Mark Evanier, who she has said became a close friend.
She was Viola Slaughter in the ABC Western Texas John Slaughter (1958-62).:1064 In the 1953–54 television season, Lynn was cast as June Wallace,:1171 the sister-in-law of the Ray Bolger character in the ABC sitcom Where's Raymond? Allyn Joslyn played her husband, Jonathan Wallace. Lynn and Joslyn left the series in its second season when it was renamed The Ray Bolger Show.
After guest-starring on various television series, including Schlitz Playhouse of Stars, The Gale Storm Show, Sugarfoot, and Markham, Lynn won the role of Thelma Lou on The Andy Griffith Show. Despite playing the role for five years (1961–66), she appeared in only 26 episodes, and was never signed on to the show (in part because at the time she was cast, she was still under contract for Texas John Slaughter). She recounted, "I didn't want to leave Thelma Lou. I really loved her. I enjoyed her. She was sweet and kind, she was so fun to play, and I loved working with Don Knotts - he was so wonderful." Following the end of The Andy Griffith Show, Lynn continued appearing in various television and film roles.
In 1986, she reprised the role of Thelma Lou in the reunion television movie Return to Mayberry in which Thelma Lou and Barney Fife are finally married. In 2006, Lynn retired from acting and relocated to Mount Airy, North Carolina, the hometown of Andy Griffith and the town on which Mayberry is believed to have been based despite Griffith's claims to the contrary. Lynn herself has commented, "The longer I live here, the more I see things [Griffith] took from his hometown."
In 1950, Lynn bought a house in Los Angeles, with her mother and grandparents moving in. She thus took on the off-screen roles of breadwinner and caretaker.
On August 30, 2016, then-North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory granted and North Carolina Lieutenant Governor Dan Forest presented Lynn with the Order of the Long Leaf Pine, the highest civilian honor in North Carolina.
|1948||Apartment for Peggy||Wife||Credited as Betty Ann Lynn|
|Sitting Pretty||Ginger||Credited as Betty Ann Lynn|
|June Bride||Barbara Brinker|
|1949||Father Was a Fullback||Constance "Connie" Cooper|
|1950||Cheaper by the Dozen||Deborah Lancaster|
|1951||Payment on Demand||Martha Ramsey|
|1951||Take Care of My Little Girl||Marge Colby|
|1956||Meet Me in Las Vegas||Young Bride||Alternative title: Viva Las Vegas!|
|1959||Louisiana Hussy||Lili Guillot|
|1959||The Hangman||Hotel Cafe Waitress|
|1958||M Squad||Susan Baines||Episode: "The Trap"|
|1958||Lawman||Edna Phillips||Episode: "The Oath"|
|1958||Wagon Train||Molly Richardson||Episode: "The Dick Richardson Story"|
|1958||Bronco||Molly Bailey||Episode: "Baron of Broken Lace"|
|1959||Tales of Wells Fargo||Mary Francis||Episode: "The Bounty Hunter"|
|1959||Mickey Spillane's Mike Hammer||Mona||Episode: "Pen Pals"|
|1959||Sugarfoot||Sarah Sears||Episode "The Royal Raiders"|
|1959||Sugarfoot||Alice Fenton||Episode "The Twister"|
|1960–1966||The Andy Griffith Show||Thelma Lou||26 episodes|
|1960||National Velvet||Barbara Howard||Episode: "Mi's Girl"|
|1963||The Farmer's Daughter||Sylvia||Episode: "The Speechmaker: Part 2"|
|1965||The Smothers Brothers Show||Vera||Episode: "Here Comes the Bridegroom"|
|1967–1970||My Three Sons||Janet/Janice; Lois||Seven episodes|
|1966–1968||Family Affair||Miss Lee||Four episodes|
|1969||The Mod Squad||Mrs. Hill||Episode: "The Healer"|
|1974||Little House on the Prairie||Bridget||Episode: "If I Should Wake Before I Die"|
|1978||Barnaby Jones||Mrs. Russell||Episode: "Blind Jeopardy"|
- Oby, Jenny (2017). Lakewood Theatre. Arcadia Publishing. p. 103. ISBN 9781467125949. Retrieved October 24, 2017.
- Robinson, Dale; Fernandes, David (1996). The Definitive Andy Griffith Show Reference: Episode-by-Episode, With Cast and Production Biographies and a Guide to Collectibles. McFarland. p. 267. ISBN 0-7864-0136-2.
- Collura, Joe (September 2017). "Betty Lynn: Barney's Thelma Lou". Classic Images (507): 68–71.
- Washburn, Mark (August 28, 2016). "The secret life of Mayberry's Thelma Lou". Miami Herald. Archived from the original on October 24, 2017. Retrieved October 25, 2017.
- "Betty Lynn Started Acting At Early Age". Biddeford-Saco Journal. Maine, Biddeford. April 14, 1952. p. 12. Retrieved October 25, 2017 – via Newspapers.com.
- "Betty Lynn". Playbill Vault. Playbill. Archived from the original on October 25, 2017. Retrieved October 25, 2017.
- Eury, Michael (Summer 2018). "Meet Thelma Lou: An Interview with Betty Lynn". RetroFan. TwoMorrows Publishing (1): 54–58.
- Breed, Allen G. (2007-09-28). "'Thelma Lou' moves to Mount Airy after L.A. break-ins". news-record.com. Archived from the original on 2012-02-13. Retrieved 2009-05-10.
- Betty Lynn on IMDb
- Terrace, Vincent (2011). Encyclopedia of Television Shows, 1925 through 2010 (2nd ed.). Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland & Company, Inc., Publishers. p. 300. ISBN 978-0-7864-6477-7.
- "Where's Raymond?/The Ray Bolger Show". ctva.biz. Archived from the original on July 6, 2011. Retrieved March 14, 2011.
- "Actress Who Played Thelma Lou Reminisces About Andy Griffith". Huffington Post. August 29, 2013.
- "Meet Thelma Lou". Andy Griffith Museum. September 13, 2017.
- "Marshfield, Missouri Cherry Blossom Fest". cherryblossomfest.com. Retrieved 2009-05-10.
- "Lt. Gov. Honors Lynn". Mount Airy News. Retrieved February 27, 2017.