AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREStriving toward a more perfect me: Doug McIntyre “There’s no place like it, unless it’s heaven,” said Lynn, now 81.Despite a career that spanned more than a half-century and saw her starring opposite such luminaries as Bette Davis and Natalie Wood, Lynn remains best known for her turn as Deputy Barney Fife’s steady girl.The daughter of a trained singer, she began acting on radio and fine-tuning her lyric soprano voice in supper clubs at age 14 in her native Kansas City, Mo. At 18, Lynn signed up for the USO Camp Shows and entertained troops in the China-Burma-India theater in the final months of World War II.After the war, she was “discovered” in a Broadway production of “Park Avenue.” Over the next decade, she played a series of daughters: Loretta Young’s in “Mother is a Freshman”; Fred MacMurray’s and Maureen O’Hara’s in “Father was a Fullback”; Clifton Webb’s oldest in “Cheaper by the Dozen.”She was on hiatus from DisneyZZTO’s “Texas John Slaughter” TV show when she got the call to read for the part of Don Knotts’ girlfriend. DisneyZZTO dropped the Western series, but Barney turned out to be a steady date. When Knotts left the show in 1966 to pursue a film career, producers offered to give Thelma Lou a hairdressing salon and another story line.But without Barney, she says, “I didn’t think Thelma Lou made much sense.”The series’ producers apparently didn’t think so, either. Lynn appeared in the 1986 two-hour reunion special, “Return to Mayberry,” in which Thelma Lou and Barney finally got hitched.Lynn went on to play a series of small parts – including Griffith’s secretary in five episodes of “Matlock.” In 1990, she played a nun in the short-lived police series “Shades of LA,” her last dramatic role.Since 2001, Lynn has been coming to the Mayberry Days festival in Mount Airy. Lynn loved the place, but it wasn’t until last year that the thought of staying crossed her mind.“That view is what really took me,” she says. “I kept thinking of all those trees and those mountains.”Earlier this year, the actress traded her three-bedroom, two-bath Spanish-style home in West Hollywood for four rooms in the RidgeCrest retirement community.She has maid service once a week and can have meals brought up to her suite for $2. And she has something she never had in her Hollywood home: air conditioning.Upon her arrival in Hollywood nearly 60 years ago, a studio publicist sat down to interview Lynn. Asked why she wanted to be an actor, Lynn replied, “I want everybody to love me.”For now, she just hopes she’s not a disappointment to Mount Airy.“I’m not Thelma Lou,” she says. “It’s just old me and that’s it. Plain old Betty.”160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! On the drive home from LAX, there was a billboard along La Cienega Boulevard that always gave Betty Lynn a chuckle: “This Ain’t Mayberry!” it declared.As if she needed a reminder of that fact, the West Hollywood home where Lynn had lived since 1950 was broken into twice last year.So the actress who played Thelma Lou on “The Andy Griffith Show” from 1961 to ’66 moved more than 2,100 miles to Mount Airy, N.C. – Griffith’s hometown and one of the inspirations for the fictional Mayberry.She figures this picturesque town in the shadow of the Blue Ridge Mountains is about as close to Mayberry as she’s going to get.