“Andy Griffith Show” actress dead at 81

Maggie Peterson, a Hollywood actress best known for her role as Charlene Darling on “The Andy Griffith Show,” has died at 81.

A family member confirmed her passing on Peterson’s Facebook page on Monday. according to Fox News, saying she “passed peacefully in her sleep with her family present.”

“It is with great sorrow that we report that our dear Aunt Maggie died yesterday afternoon (Sunday, May 15),” their statement read.

“Maggie’s health took a turn for the worse after the death of her husband Gus and we are relieved that we were able to move her home to be close to family for her last days,” the message continued.

“We will be planning a private service for Maggie in the next few weeks.”

Peterson’s best remembered role was as Charlene Darling, only daughter of the Darling family, a clan of North Carolina hillbillies with musical talent.

Her character was a pretty but unworldly mountain girl. While she was enamored of Sheriff Andy Taylor, the lead character played by Griffith, she would eventually marry the character “Dud” Wash.

The family appeared on the show between 1963 and 1966,

Peterson also appeared in sitcoms like  “Green Acres,” “Love, American Style,” “The Odd Couple” and “Gomer Pyle, USMC.”

She was married to jazz musician Gus Mancuso from 1978 until his death in 2021. According to the Los Angeles Times, they settled in Las Vegas, where she transitioned into a scouting manager for TV and movies.

In recent years, her health had been declining and she’d been partially supported financially by fans on social media.

“Maggie wanted this community to know how much you meant to her over the past three years,” her family said in their statement.

“Despite being in Las Vegas and away from her family, your love and devotion helped her to not feel alone. She made many mentions to us about how she couldn’t believe how generous you all were. You truly made a positive impact on her life and helped her during some very difficult times.

“Finally, Maggie’s family would like to thank you from the bottom of our hearts. Your caring and generosity was inspiring and we could not of done any of this without you. We hope that during this difficult time you can find solace in knowing how important you were for making the end of Maggie’s life much better. Thank you and God bless.”