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Maggie Peterson, a Memorable ‘Andy Griffith Show’ Guest, Dies at 81


Maggie Peterson, an actress who in a recurring role on the hit sitcom “The Andy Griffith Show” memorably developed an infatuation with Mr. Griffith’s character, Sheriff Andy Taylor, died on Sunday. She was 81.

Her death was announced in a post on her Facebook page. The post didn’t say where she died, but her family said last month that she had been moved from her home in Las Vegas to a nursing facility in Colorado. The family also said that her health took a turn for the more severe when her husband, the jazz musician Gus Mancuso, died of Alzheimer’s disease in December at 88.

Ms. Peterson was seen on “The Odd Couple,” “Green Acres” and other television shows from 1964 to 1987. But she was probably best known for enjoying Charlene Darling, a member of the musical Darling family, in several episodes of “The Andy Griffith Show.” (Her brothers were played by the members of the Dillards, a distinguished bluegrass band; their father was played by the veteran character actor Denver Pyle.)

Darlene and the opposite Darlings first appeared within the 1963 episode “The Darlings Are Coming,” through which the family visited Mayberry, the fictional North Carolina town where the show was set, and waited for her fiancé to reach. Sheriff Taylor lets the family spend an evening within the courthouse, and Charlene becomes smitten with the sheriff — an infatuation that ends abruptly when her fiancé arrives.

The Darlings returned to Mayberry 4 more times. In a single episode, Charlene and her husband are searching for a young boy for his or her latest baby girl to change into engaged to. They pick Sheriff Taylor’s son, Opie, played by Ron Howard, but are eventually tricked into changing their minds.

Ms. Peterson played a special character in a later episode of the show and two other characters in episodes of the “Andy Griffith Show” spinoffs “Mayberry R.F.D.” and “Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C.” She also appeared in movies with Mr. Griffith and one other “Andy Griffith Show” forged member, Don Knotts.

She returned to the role of Charlene one last time within the 1986 TV movie “Return to Mayberry.”

Margaret Ann Peterson was born on Jan. 10, 1941, in Greeley, Colo., to Arthur and Tressa Peterson. She was a successful singer before she became an actress, with a family vocal group called the Ja-Da Quartet (later referred to as Margaret Ann & the Ja-Da Quartet), which recorded an album for Warner Bros. Records in 1959, and the Ernie Mariani Trio.

After her acting profession ended, she worked for the Nevada Film Commission and, normally billed as Maggie Mancuso, was a location manager on “Casino” (1995) and other movies.

Information on survivors was not immediately available.

The Associated Press contributed reporting.

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