Popular TV star Maggie Peterson, best known for her role on The Andy Griffith Show, has died at the age of 81.
Her niece Amy Royer confirmed the sad news in a statement on Facebook, revealing that Peterson had died in her sleep on Sunday afternoon.
Peterson has suffered from poor health since the death of her husband, in his 40s, jazz musician Gus Mancuso, in December, the emotional post revealed.
“Maggie’s health declined following the death of her husband Gus and we are relieved to have been able to bring her home close to her family for her final days,” the statement said.
In a post on Instagram, the Andy Griffith Museum said Peterson “brought so much joy to her fans and to our Mayberry Days Festival. We will miss you Maggie.”
Peterson landed her breakthrough role as Charlene Darling on The Andy Griffith Show in 1963. She soon made a name for herself after starring in the comedy show until 1966.
Two years after she left the show, Peterson was welcomed back to the set, where she appeared as another character named Doris.
Fans were delighted to know it wouldn’t be Charlene’s last as the actress returned to her original role in the 1986 TV movie Return to Mayberry, where she was joined by her former co-stars.
Peterson secured a recurring role on The Bill Dana Show in 1964, starring as waitress Susie.
She later landed minor roles in Green Acres and The Odd Couple in the late ’60s and early ’70s.
Her other acting credits include Gomer Pyle: USMC, The Queen And I, Love American Style, and Mayberry RFD.
Peterson met her husband Gus in 1968 before tying the knot in 1978.
Following their respective stints on the shows, Peterson decided to retire from acting in the ’80s after playing her final role in a 1987 episode of The Magical World of Disney.
She took a job in location management, where she eventually rose through the ranks and worked as a location manager on several Las Vegas films, including Casino, Mars Attacks!, and Advance Payment.
Her family revealed on Facebook that they are “planning to hold a private service for Maggie in the next few weeks.”