American actor and comedian Jim Nabors (1930 - 2017) and actress Maggie Peterson at a premiere of the film 'Ship of Fools', USA, 1965. (Photo by Archive Photos/Getty Images)
American actor and comedian Jim Nabors (1930 - 2017) and actress Maggie Peterson at a premiere of the film 'Ship of Fools', USA, 1965. (Photo by Archive Photos/Getty Images)

'The Andy Griffith Show' Star Maggie Peterson Dies at 81


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Maggie Peterson, who portrayed Charlene Darling, a member of the bluegrass-playing family The Darlings on The Andy Griffith Show died on Sunday, May 15. She was 81.

Peterson's death was confirmed by family members on her Facebook page.

Peterson's family shared that Peterson's health had taken a turn for the worse since the death of her husband of over 50 years, Gus Mancuso, a Las Vegas musician, in December of 2021.

"It is with great sorrow that we report that our dear Aunt Maggie died yesterday afternoon (Sunday, May 15). She passed peacefully in her sleep with her family present," the message reads. "Maggie's health took a turn for the worse after the death of her husband Gus and we are relieved that we were able to move her home to be close to family for her last days."
The Facebook post states that the family will hold a private service for Peterson in the next few weeks.
In an Instagram post, The Andy Griffith Museum  reflected on the joy Peterson always brought to fans of the classic TV series.
"Maggie will forever be remembered by Mayberry Fans as Charlene Darling on 'The Andy Griffith Show.' She brought so much joy to her fans, and to our Mayberry Days® Festival," the post reads. "We will miss you Maggie."
Peterson began appearing as Charlene Darling on The Andy Griffith Show in 1963, and even showcased her singing talent on the series. (She reprised the role of Charlene in the 1986 TV movie Return to Mayberry.)
She also starred as Susie the waitress on The Bill Dana Show and appeared on Green Acres and The Odd Couple in the '60s and '70s.
Peterson retired from acting in the late '80s and, according to People, began working for the Nevada Film Commission. She served as a location manager for Mars Attacks! and Casino, which were based in Las Vegas.
Peterson's family shared how much support from fans had meant to her.
"Maggie wanted this community to know how much you meant to her over the past three years," the post reads. "Despite being in Las Vegas and away from her family, your love and devotion helped her to not feel alone. She made many mentions to us about how she couldn't believe how generous you all were. You truly made a positive impact on her life and helped her during some very difficult times. Finally, Maggie's family would like to thank you from the bottom of our hearts. Your caring and generosity was inspiring and we could not of done any of this without you. We hope that during this difficult time you can find solace in knowing how important you were for making the end of Maggie's life much better."
 
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