The Andy Griffith Show‘s Maggie Peterson has died at the age of 81. Her family confirmed the passing, stating that she passed away in her sleep, surrounded by immediate family members.
According to a post uploaded on Facebook, Peterson’s health took a turn for the worse following the death of her husband in 2021. The family said a private service will be held to honour the actress.
In a to social media, The Andy Griffith Museum said Peterson “brought so much joy to her fans, and to our Mayberry Days Festival. We will miss you, Maggie.”
Born on January 10th, 1941, in Greeley, Colorado, Peterson formed a small group that rode around the countryside singing to people. Peterson worked on several TV shows like Love American Style, Green Acres and The Odd Couple. Peterson sang on It’s The Most Happy Sound, in 1959, starting her off on a trajectory that was equal parts television as it was popular music. Cast as the character of Charlene Darling on The Andy Griffith Show, Peterson played the daughter of Briscoe Darling.
In one notable episode from 1963, Peterson Charlene Darling, finds herself in Mayberry, smitten by the whims and smarts of a local sheriff. Torn between this debonair, handsome man, and the fiance she is betrothed to, she eventually realises that she truly loves her fiance. Charlene Darling played bluegrass on the show, singing songs that made the project more of a hybrid piece that broke the boundaries of popular art.
The series also featured a young Ron Howard as ‘Opie the Birdman’, making it one of the first projects the Arrested Development creator was involved in. “I have vivid memories of ‘Opie the Birdman’ because I’d had a dog named Gulliver who had been hit by a car and in sort of getting to the emotional place of doing those scenes, my dad reminded me of Gulliver,” Howard told the Television Academy Foundation. “And how I felt. He was giving me the method then. Those emotional scenes came from a personal, very real place for me. I wasn’t faking stuff.”
Howard claims that the experience changed him from a child actor to an actor. Howard made a sidestep into directing as an adult, helming such titles as Willow, Apollo 13 and Frost/Nixon.