Actress Maggie Peterson, known for playing Charlene Darling on The Andy Griffith Show, is dead at 81. According to Deadline, Peterson died peacefully in her sleep on the afternoon of Sunday, May 15, with her family present. While the exact details of Peterson’s cause of death are unknown, her family said in a Facebook post that her health began to decline after her husband, jazz musician Gus Mancuso, passed away in December. She was married to Mancuso for 40 years. Peterson’s death comes less than a year after another actress from The Andy Griffith Show, Betty Lynn, passed away at 95.
Actress Maggie Peterson’s Musical Beginnings
The Hollywood Reporter says that Margaret Ann Peterson was born on January 10th, 1941, in Greeley, CO, to a doctor and a homemaker. She formed a musical ac called the Ja-Da Quartet with her brother and two of his friends. Andy Griffith’s manager spotted the group and invited them to New York. There they performed on variety shows hosted by Pat Boon and Perry Como and recorded an album: It’s The Most Happy Sound.
Maggie Peterson on The Andy Griffith Show and More
While performing for another group, Margaret Ann and the Ernie Mariani Trio, Peterson was discovered by The Andy Griffith Show director Bob Sweeny and producer Aaron Ruben. She portrayed Charlene Darling in five episodes of the show, and she returned as a different character in the final season episode “A Girl for Goober.” She reprised the role of Charlene in the 1986 telefilm Return to Mayberry, and she also appeared on shows such as The Bill Dana Show, Green Acres, Gomer Pyle: USMC, The Odd Couple, and Love, American Style.
Peterson retired from acting in the 1980s and began working on the Nevada Film Commission. She served as the location manager on films such as Casino, Mars Attacks!, and Pay It Forward.
The Nerd Stash sends condolences to Maggie Peterson’s loved ones.