Maggie Peterson, an actress who made a strong impression as Charlene Darling, a sweet and sometimes flirtatious mountain girl, in The Andy Griffith Show in the 1960s, died Sunday, May 15 in Colorado, his family announced.
“It is with great sadness that we announce that our dear Aunt Maggie passed away yesterday afternoon,” the family posted on Facebook today. “She passed away peacefully in her sleep with her family present.”
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Although she appeared in just five episodes of the classic rural sitcom as Charlene, Peterson was among the show’s most familiar and memorable recurring cast members, often joining her on-screen family The Darlings (played by real-life bluegrass band The Dillards, featuring actor Denver Pyle as patriarch Briscoe Darling) in singles.
Peterson developed a catchphrase with his repeated pleas about the sentimental impact of song suggestions with outrageous titles, as in the following exchange with Pyle’s character:
Briscoe: “How about not hitting your grandma with a big stick?” »
Charlene: “No, Paw! This one makes me cry!”
Other songs that made Charlene cry: “Slimy River Bottom”, “Boil that Cabbage Down” and “Keep Your Money in Your Shoes and It Won’t Get Wet”.
In one episode Peterson’s Charlene was betrothed, according to mountain custom, to an unwitting sheriff Andy Taylor (Griffith), while in a later episode it was Charlene’s granddaughter who was betrothed to Andy’s young son, Opie (Ron Howard).
With her appearances as Charlene from 1963 to 1966, Peterson became a de facto member of Griffith’s unofficial acting repertoire, returning to the sitcom and its spinoffs. Gomer Pyle: USMC and RFD Mayberry. like other characters. She has also appeared in feature films Angel in my pocket (with Griffith) and The God of love? (with Griffith regular Don Knotts), both in 1969. She returned to the Mayberry universe in 1986, reprising her role as Charlene in the reunion TV movie Back to Mayberry.
Peterson, who occasionally used her married name Maggie Mancuso, also appeared in The Bill Dana Show – to like Griffitha spin-off from The Danny Thomas Show – Love, American Style, Green Acres and The odd coupleand the 1969 feature The Over-the-Hill gang. She retired from acting after a 1987 role in The Magical World of Disneyand later worked for the Nevada Film Commission
Peterson, who lived in Las Vegas, recently suffered the loss of her husband of more than 40 years, jazz musician Gus Mancuso, who died in December. “Maggie’s health deteriorated following the death of her husband Gus,” the family wrote, “and we are relieved to have been able to move her home to be close to family for her final days.”
Originally from Colorado, Peterson began her career in show business in the 1950s as a singer, performing with a family vocal group called the Ja-Da Quartet. The group was noticed at a recording convention by Griffith’s manager, Dick Linke. Peterson’s vocal skills were then used on the Griffith show, when Darlene would join in on the family songs, most notably with her rendition of the bluegrass standard “Salty Dog”.
Peterson has often appeared at Mayberry fan club events, with his family writing to fans today, “Although she is in Las Vegas and away from her family, your love and dedication has helped her not feel alone. She gave us many mentions of how she couldn’t believe how generous you all were. You really had a positive impact on her life and helped her through some very difficult times…We hope that during this difficult time, you can find comfort in knowing how important you were in making the end of Maggie’s life so much better.