Elizabeth Ann Theresa "Betty" Lynn (born August 29, 1926) was an American actress. She was best known for her role as Thelma Lou, Deputy Barney Fife's girlfriend, on The Andy Griffith Show.
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.
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) and Oklahoma! (1943). 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 opposite Robert Young. 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).
She was Viola Slaughter in the ABC Western Texas John Slaughter (1958-62). In the 1953–54 television season, Lynn was cast as June Wallace, 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. She portrayed the role regularly from 1961-65, then made a final guest appearance in one episode during the sixth season (1965–66). 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 were 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.
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. She died at the age of 95 on October 16, 2021 in Culver City, California.