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Betty Lynn Died from a Broken Heart (RIP)

Actress Betty Lynn is perhaps best known for her portrayal of Thelma Lou, the recurring love interest of Mayberry deputy, Barney Fife, on the groundbreaking sitcom, The Andy Griffith Show, which ran for 249 episodes on CBS from October 3, 1960, to April 1, 1968.

However, after The Andy Griffith Show ended after being on the air for eight seasons, Lynn would land another role that would pit her head-to-head with her former Griffith co-star, Andy.

Ultimately this would lead to a falling out between the two starts that would last a whole lot longer than it ever should have and would only come to an end in 2008 when one of them reached out to the other for some acting advice.

But let’s rewind a little bit to gain a little bit of context. In one famous episode of The Andy Griffith Show called ‘Cyrano Andy’, the audience witnesses Andy pay an unexpected visit to Barney’s Girlfriend, Thelma Lou. Once he’s gotten her attention, he boldly announces that he wants her for his own.

This might be shocking if it weren’t for the fact that the audience already knows that it’s a Joke. Andy is merely trying to make Thelma Lou realize her true feelings for Barney by declaring his love for her. It’s all a carefully planned and well-intentioned rouse.

But according to the actress who played Thelma Lou, Betty Lynn, this love triangle did, in fact, exist in a somewhat subdued way behind the scenes of the otherwise wholesome show. But in reality, it played out the opposite of the way that you might assume.

Keep watching to learn how Betty Lynn’s crush on The Andy Griffith Show’s lead caused division among the show’s cast members and led to a rocky period in Lynn and Griffith’s relationship that would extend for more than a decade.

Thelma Lou Brought A Dose Of Sweetness To The Show

The kindhearted and cordial Thelma Lou, played by Betty Lynn, has long been one of the series most iconic characters. Not only did she make for the perfect on-again-off-again girlfriend for Barney Fife, but she also apparently made the world’s best cashew fudge – one of Fife’s favorites.

Lynn portrayed Thelma Lou throughout the majority of the show’s run. She even reprised the role in 1986s made for television reunion film Return to Mayberry. Betty Lynn ended up leaving The Andy Griffith Show when Don Knot”s staged his own exit from the series during its fifth season.

But even after she left, Lynn stayed in touch with the show’s stars throughout her life.

Betty Lynn’s Crush

Instead of falling for her onscreen love interest, Don Knotts, Lynn found herself crushing on the star of the show. By that time, Andy Griffith had already been married to his first wife, Barbara, for 12 years, so it’s probably a good thing that Lynn respectfully chose not to act on her feelings.

The closest she came to professing her attraction was when she told Andy that she wished he was a twin because then there would be one of him for his wife Barbara and one for her.

What might very well be the only photographic evidence of their flirtation is a publicity photo of Lynn and Andy that was put out into circulation while the show was still on the air. In it, Lynn’s hand can be seen resting on Griffith’s knee.

But even though Lynn’s heart was set on Andy, Don Knotts would also come around to see her whenever she made an appearance on the show. According to Lynn, whenever Knotts would see her, he would read her some of his poetry to try and swoon her.

But Knotts’ heartfelt expressions weren’t enough to win over Lynn’s heart. She still had strong feelings for Andy, and it didn’t seem like they were going anywhere anytime soon. 

At one point, she asked him if he would autograph one of his portraits for her. What Andy ended up writing on that portrait no doubt only fanned the flames of her crush. He wrote that while Lynn was ‘Don’s Girl’, she should’ve been his.

Lynn kept the photo and Andy’s inscription secret because she didn’t want to hurt anybody’s feelings.

After Andy and Barbara finalized their divorce in 1972, he went on to get remarried twice – but he and Betty Lynn never ended up striking up a romance, nor did she ever end up dating Don Knotts. She did, however, eventually find a tremendous amount of love and respect for herself. Maybe she never really needed a man in the first place.

After all, Lynn is famous for having been engaged to the same man three times. She eventually ended the relationship for good just four days before the wedding because her fiance had admitted that he had feelings for another woman. When Lynn called up the church to inform them of the cancellation, the bishop told her that he was sorry. Lynn replied by saying that she wasn’t.

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And don’t wander off just yet. Keep watching to learn what actress Betty Lynn ended up doing with her life after leaving Mayberry.

Life After The Andy Griffith Show

Staying in touch with The Andy Griffith Show’s stars led Lynn to eventually land a role in another series that starred Andy Griffith.

But Lynn and Griffith’s friendship was soon put to the test and the two entertainers ended up having a falling out that lasted years.

In 1986, Lynn was given the role of Ben Matlock’s secretary on NBC’s courtroom drama Matlock. Shortly after the series began, Lynn began to feel as if her character needed to be given more lines. But, after Lynn approached Andy Griffith with these issues, Griffith didn’t seem to have much to say about her concerns. In fact, quite the opposite, Lynn’s lines ended up getting cut from the show altogether, and the show’s producers ended up letting her go.

Lynn was furious with Griffith, whom she felt wasn’t listening to her. After getting canned from the show that they both appeared on, Lynn and Griffith ended up having a falling out that would span many years.

But all of that changed one day in 2008 when Griffith called the actress to ask her a simple question. He wanted to hear her advice on whether he should take a role in the upcoming film Play the Game. In case you were wondering, Griffith did end up taking the role, and it ended up being his final role before his death in July 2012.

Fortunately, after rekindling their bond, Griffith and Lynn remained friends for the remainder of his life.

Betty Lynn Today

Betty Lynn celebrated her 95th birthday back on August 29, 2021. She spent the majority of her life living in the same West Hollywood home that she resided in since 1950, but in 2006 after returning home from the annual Mayberry Days Festival to find that her home had been burglarized, she moved out of state, relocating to Mount Airy, North Carolina – the town that served as the inspiration for the fictional town of Mayberry. She currently lives in a retirement community there and makes monthly appearances in town at the Andy Griffith Museum.

After leaving The Andy Griffith Show, Lynn went on to have recurring roles and guest spots on shows like Family Affair, My Three Sons, The Farmer’s Daughter, The Smith Family, and Little House On The Prairie.

After making an appearance on Barnaby Jones in 1973, very little was seen of Lynn until 1986 – the year that she reprised her Thelma Lou role in the TV reunion film Return to Mayberry. Lynn’s final acting role on TV was in 1990, and except for a brief appearance on stage in 2002’s off-Broadway production ‘Love Letters’ alongside her former Mayberry co-star Howard Morris, she has retired from acting.

Among Andy Griffith Show fans, Betty Lynn is a bit of rock star, and she has repeatedly said on numerous occasions in recent years how much she enjoys engaging with her fans. In Mount Airy, Lynn is a local celebrity, and the appreciation goes in both directions. While fans are always thrilled to meet her, she is equally happy to meet them.

But it’s not just her fans that shower Betty Lynn is praise. In 2007, Lynn was inducted into the Missouri Walk of Fame which is located in Marshfield, Missouri. On August 30, 2016, North Carolina’s governor at the time, Pat McCrory, and Lieutenant Governor Dan Forest granted and presented Lynn the Order of the Long Leaf Pine, the highest honor that a civilian can receive in the state of North Carolina.

Alright, well, here we are once again at the conclusion of another facts-packed video. What are your thoughts on Betty Lynn and Andy Griffith’s relationship? Were you surprised to learn that they never ended up dating despite the fact that they clearly shared a tremendous amount of chemistry? Let us know in the comments section below.

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