‘Andy Griffith Show’ actress dies at 81

Actress Maggie Peterson-Mancuso, who played Charlene Darling-Wash on "The Andy Griffith Show,"...
Actress Maggie Peterson-Mancuso, who played Charlene Darling-Wash on "The Andy Griffith Show," died Sunday, her family said. She is shown here performing at "Mayberry Days" in Mount Airy, North Carolina in 2015.(Surry Arts Council)
Published: May. 17, 2022 at 11:53 AM EDT
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GOLDEN, Colo. (WCSC) - Maggie Peterson-Mancuso, whose character on “The Andy Griffith Show” developed a memorable infatuation with Mayberry sheriff Andy Taylor, has died, her family said Monday.

She was 81.

A post to her Facebook page states she died in her sleep on Sunday with her family present.

Normally credited as Maggie Peterson, she played the only sister of five musical siblings. Her on-camera brothers, portrayed by the musical group The Dillards, never spoke on camera but often accompanied Peterson who sang fan favorites like “There is a Time” and “Salty Dog.”

Peterson appeared as Charlene Darling in only five episodes of the show, beginning with “The Darlings are Coming” in 1963. In that episode, the Darling family drives their jalopy from their mountain home to pick up Charlene’s betrothed fiance. In a 1964 episode, “Divorce, Mountain Style,” she returns to Mayberry alone and tells Taylor she’s divorcing her husband and intends to marry him instead. By the end of the episode, Charlene and her husband were reunited.

She joined most of the original cast for the NBC made-for-TV reunion movie “Return to Mayberry” in 1986.

She continued appearing at “Andy Griffith Show”-themed events and performed with the Dillards into the 2010s including the annual “Mayberry Days” celebrations held in Griffith’s hometown of Mt. Airy, North Carolina.

On the band’s Facebook page, Rodney Dillard paid tribute to Peterson.

“I’ve lost a sister and a dear friend...the world has lost a flower that will bloom forever in Heaven,” he wrote.

The post on her Facebook page states her health took a turn for the worse when her husband, Gus Mancuso, died of Alzheimer’s disease in 2021 at age 88. After his death, Peterson moved back to Colorado to be closer to her relatives.

The family said a private service will be held in the next few weeks.

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