‘The Andy Griffith Show’: Thelma Lou Actor Betty Lynn ‘Had a Crush On’ Andy Griffith: ‘He Was a Tease’
In the quaint town of Mayberry on The Andy Griffith Show, the townspeople were fond of one another, for sure.
Behind the scenes of the popular classic television comedy was even more fondness.
In fact, Barney’s sweetheart on the show, Thelma Lou, played by Betty Lynn, had a crush on the show’s star, Andy Griffith.
Betty Lynn’s final episode on ‘The Andy Griffith Show’
Betty Lynn portrayed deputy Barney Fife’s girlfriend Thelma Lou on The Andy Griffith Show from 1961 to 1966. “Thel” to her friends, the officer’s girlfriend was best friends with Sheriff Andy Taylor’s girlfriend, teacher Helen Crump.
While Helen remained on the series for its full eight-season run, Thelma Lou’s final episode took place on one of Don Knotts’ returns to the show after he left in 1965.
According to Richard Kelly’s 1981 book, The Andy Griffith Show, Lynn’s final episode was “The Return of Barney Fife.” It was also her least favorite, “because she knew that it was her last time on the show and she did not want it to end.”
Betty Lynn had feelings for Andy Griffith
Eventually, according to Andy & Don: The Making of a Friendship and a Classic American TV Show author Daniel de Visé, who also happens to be the late Don Knotts’ brother-in-law, Lynn developed feelings for Andy Griffith.
She told the author, “I had a crush on [Andy]. But he was married, and [his wife Barbara] was a lovely lady.”
The actor recalled telling Griffith, “I wish you were twins, because that way there would be one for Barbara, and one for me.”
She said that after the departure of Andy’s first love interest on the show, Elinor Donahue, “he’d sit and visit with me sometimes, hold my hand. He was a tease.”
Andy Griffith’s gift to Betty Lynn
After leaving The Andy Griffith Show, Lynn continued acting in other film and television roles.
Lynn asked Griffith some time later to autograph a photograph of himself for her, as a memento of her time on the show.
“Years later,” de Visé wrote, “Betty presented Andy a portrait of himself and asked him to sign it. He returned it with the inscription, ‘You were Don’s girl, but you should’ve been mine.'”
The actor also appeared at times on Griffith’s other successful series, Matlock. In the 1980s and ’90s courtroom series, Lynn played a secretary in a few episodes. According to MeTV, when Lynn asked Griffith if she could have more lines per show, she was tactfully told she was no longer needed.
Although the two didn’t speak for years after that, they patched things up in 2008 and stayed good friends until Griffith’s death in 2012.