Andy Griffith Show Star Maggie Peterson Dead at 81

·3 min read

Maggie Peterson/Facebook

Maggie Peterson, who appeared on The Andy Griffith Show, has died. She was 81.

Peterson's Facebook and GoFundMe pages confirmed in a statement written by her niece Amy Royer and nephew Ben Eaton that "she passed peacefully in her sleep with her family present" Sunday afternoon.

"Maggie's health took a turn for the worse after the death of her husband Gus [Mancuso, revered Las Vegas musician] and we are relieved that we were able to move her home to be close to family for her last days," the statement continued. "We will be planning a private service for Maggie in the next few weeks."

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Peterson got her start on the small screen as Charlene Darling on The Andy Griffith Show, recurring in the role over five episodes from 1963 until 1966. She again appeared on the popular program in 1968 as a different character named Doris.

She revisited the role of Charlene once more, in the 1986 TV movie Return to Mayberry, which caught up with the characters from The Andy Griffith Show.

Some of the actress's other credits include the recurring role of Susie the waitress on The Bill Dana Show in 1964, as well as appearances on Green Acres and The Odd Couple in the late '60s and early '70s.

ANDY GRIFFITH'S UPTOWN-DOWNTOWN SHOW, Tennessee Ernie Ford, Andy Griffith, Maggie Peterson, Don Knotts, 1967
ANDY GRIFFITH'S UPTOWN-DOWNTOWN SHOW, Tennessee Ernie Ford, Andy Griffith, Maggie Peterson, Don Knotts, 1967


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After retiring from acting in the late 1980s, Peterson began working in location management, working for the Nevada Film Commission and serving as location manager on several memorable Las Vegas-based films including 1995's Casino, Mars Attacks! the next year, and Pay It Forward in 2000.

Peterson lived in Las Vegas, where she was married to Mancuso for over 50 years. In the GoFundMe page established in early 2020 to help with her mounting healthcare costs, updates referenced how Mancuso's battle with Alzheimer's and subsequent December 2021 death made Peterson's situation more urgent.

In the final update written on the crowdfunding page that announced her death, Peterson's family wrote, "Maggie wanted this community to know how much you meant to her over the past three years. 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."

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In the initial description of the GoFundMe written in 2020, the family shared a plea from Peterson herself, which explained how her injuries have led her to "come upon hard times."

"In the past year, I have had several injuries and surgeries to my shoulders, which have left both arms partially paralyzed and in pain. In addition, I have an undiagnosed weakness in my legs," she wrote. "These conditions led to a series of falls in the last six months resulting in stitches on both sides of my face, broken ribs, re-injury to my shoulders, a concussion, and a severely broken left ankle, which required surgery. I have basically been in rehabilitation facilities since November [2019] and am facing more of the same going forward. I truly fear that I may not be able to live without care until I successfully rehabilitate from my current injuries."

Peterson also addressed her financial difficulties.

"My dear husband, Gus, has Alzheimer's and I was his caregiver. Ironically, now I also need care. My insurance does not cover this, and my finances cannot begin to cover it," she wrote. "Residuals, you ask? The Andy Griffith Show ended in the late sixties before residuals became what they are now. There were some nominal ones in the beginning, but I have not received a residual for the Andy Griffith Show in fifty years."

Peterson's GoFundMe page, which is no longer accepting donations, has raised $47,125.

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