American actress Betty Lynn, best known for her role as Barney Fife’s girlfriend Thelma Lou on The Andy Griffith Show, passed away on Saturday after a brief illness. She was 95. The sad news was announced in a statement released by The Andy Griffith Museum in Mount Airy, North Carolina which read as follows: "It is with an extremely heavy heart that we announce the passing of Betty Lynn. Thank you to all for your prayers, cards and love. Betty will be dearly missed by all of us. We love you Betty." 

Born Elizabeth Ann Theresa Lynn on August 29, 1926 in Kansas City, Missouri, Betty Lynn took to acting and dance at a young age and began performing on stage on the United Service Organizations Camp Shows. She later performed overseas for service members during World War II as part of the USO and was believed to be the only American woman to travel the Burma Road at the time. According to a statement by the museum, Lynn was "thought to be the only American woman to have traveled the dangerous Burma Road during the war". She later moved to New York in the late 1940s to act in film and television in a successful career spanning decades. 

Betty Lynn gained popularity starring in The Andy Griffith Show from 1961 until 1966, while reprising her role in the TV movie, Return to Mayberry, in which Thelma Lou and Barney got married. She also appeared in the show's reunions with fellow cast members in the later years and the Mayberry-themed festivals. Prior to her demise, Lynn had been working on an autobiography, which will be released posthumously, the museum said in the statement. 

The news of Betty Lynn's death has left many sad in Hollywood, including veteran director-actor Ron Howard paying his tribute on Twitter. Howard, who played Sheriff Andy Taylor’s son, Opie, tweeted, "RIP Betty Lynn. She played Thelma Lou on #TAGS  & brightened every scene she was in & every shooting day she was on set. I saw her last a few years ago where she still lit up the room with her positivity. It was great to have known and worked with her. She truly was 95yrs young."