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'The Andy Griffith Show' actress Maggie Peterson dies at 81

The actress best known for playing Charlene Darling on "The Andy Griffith Show," has died. She was 81.

WASHINGTON — Maggie Peterson, best known for playing Charlene Darling on "The Andy Griffith Show," has died at the age of 81, her family announced on Monday.  

According to posts from Peterson's relatives on a GoFundMe and on her Facebook page, the actress died Sunday afternoon peacefully in her sleep. 

Peterson's health declined after the death of her husband, Gus, last December, her family explained. She was recently moved back home to Colorado, where she was closer to relatives. 

Family members made a GoFundMe page for Peterson back in March 2020 after she suffered a series of falls and had to be hospitalized for nearly 80 days. Her family has used that GoFundMe to provide updates to fans on her condition since then. 

"Maggie wanted this community to know how much you meant to her over the past three years," Ben Eaton, Peterson's nephew wrote Monday on the GoFundMe. "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."

According to the family's post, there will be a private funeral service in the next few weeks. 

The Andy Griffith Museum also posted a tribute to Peterson on its Facebook page. 

"It is with great sadness that we share the passing of Maggie Peterson Mancuso. Maggie will forever be remembered by Mayberry Fans as Charlene Darling on "The Andy Griffith Show." She brought so much joy to her fans, and to our Mayberry Days Festival. We will miss you Maggie," the museum post stated

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