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What Led to Actress Maggie Peterson’s Death at 81?


Maggie Peterson, well-known for starring as Charlene Darling in The Andy Griffith Show, passed away on May 15, 2022. Maggie Peterson’s cause of death was not released but her family said she died peacefully in her sleep.

The heartbreaking news was posted on The Andy Griffith Show Museum Facebook page and Mancuso’s Facebook page on Monday.

A family member wrote on Mancuso’s page that she “passed peacefully in her sleep with her family present.” The statement stated that Maggie’s health had declined after the passing of her husband, Gus and a private service would be held in the next few weeks.

Actress Maggie Peterson's Death at 81

“Maggie wanted this community to know how much you meant to her over the past three years,” the statement read. “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,” the post read.

Maggie Peterson whose full name was Maggie Peterson Mancuso was born on January 10, 1941, in Greeley, Colorado. The actress played the character of Doris in the episode “A Girl for Goober”.

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What was Maggie Peterson’s Cause of Death at 81?

Maggie Peterson’s cause of death has not been revealed at this time. Her family said that a private service would be held in the next few weeks.

In 1954 at a Capitol Records convention, Dick Linke (manager of Jim Nabors and Andy Griffith) heard Maggie singing and was so impressed with her. Linke encouraged her to come to New York.

For The Andy Griffith Show, Maggie initially read for the role of Sheriff Andy Taylor, but the role went to American actress Elinor Donahue. Soon after, Peterson was selected to play the role of Charlene Darling.

Maggie Peterson's death was confirmed by her family.
Image Source: | The Stanly News & Press

The only daughter of Briscoe Darling, Charlence had a crush on Sheriff Taylor. Maggie would later return to The Andy Griffith Show in its final season, as Doris who was dating interests Ken Berry’s character.

In 1968, while Peterson was singing as an opening act for Andy Griffith at a casino in Lake Tahoe, Maggie met jazz musician Gus Mancuso who was playing bass in a lounge act. They tied the knot and have been together ever since.

The pair spent a number of years in Los Angeles, where Maggie worked doing commercials until they decided to settle in Las Vegas where Maggie worked as a location scout for film and television.

In April 2008 The Darlings received a star on the Missouri Walk of Fame in Marshfield, Missouri. Maggie and Darlings/Dillards group members Dean Webb and Mitch Jayne were on hand representing The Darlings.

Maggie starred as a guest of honor at the Mayberry In The Midwest Festival in Danville, Indiana. In recent years, Maggie was a guest at the annual Mayberry Days Festival in Mount Airy.

According to IMDb, Peterson also starred in episodes of “Green Acres,” “Love, American Style,” “Gomer Pyle, USMC,” and “The Odd Couple.”

James L Neibaur wrote: “Maggie Peterson (seen here with the late Denver Pyle) has passed away. She is best remembered as Charlene Darling on The Andy Griffith Show. Her passing yesterday at 81 has been announced by several personal friends on social media. ‘this’n makes me cry. RIP.”

Another beloved member of “The Andy Griffith Show” cast, actress Betty Lynn, who played Barney Fife’s girlfriend Thelma Lou, sadly passed away in October 2021. Betty Lynn’s cause of death was reported by several sources after her death.

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