Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Maggie Peterson Passes On

Maggie Peterson, best known for playing hillbilly Charlene Darling on The Andy Griffith Show, died on May 15 2022 at the age of 81.

Maggie Peterson was born on January 10 1941 in Greeley, Colorado. She, her brother, and two of his friends formed an instrumental and vocal group called The Ja-Da Quartet. The Ja-Da Quartet met with enough success, and were eventually discovered by Andy Griffith's manager. It was through Andy Griffith's manager that they went to New York and later appeared on one episode of The Garry Moore Show and two episodes of The Perry Como Show. They recorded one album, It's the Most Happy Sound.

Maggie Peterson tried out for the part of Sheriff Andy Taylor's love interest during the first season of The Andy Griffith Show, but lost the part to Elinor Donahue. She was cast as Charlene Darling near the end of the third season of The Andy Griffith Show. Charlene was the daughter of hillbilly Briscoe Darling (Denver Pyle) and part of the Darling family. The Darlings first appeared in the episode "The Darlings Are Coming" and proved popular enough to appear in four more episodes. Maggie Peterson later played a date for Sam Jones (Ken Berry) in the 1968 episode "A Girl for Goober." In 1964 Maggie Peterson was cast in the recurring role of Suzie the Waitress on The Bill Dana Show. In the Sixties she also guest starred on the shows Gomer Pyle: USMC; The Queen and I; Love, American Style; Green Acres; and Mayberry R.F.D. She also appeared in the TV movie The Over-the-Hill Gang. Maggie Peterson only appeared in two movies in her career, both of which starred veterans of The Andy Griffith Show. The first was Angel in My Pocket (1969), which starred Andy Griffith. The second was The Love God? (1969), which starred Don Knotts.

In the Seventies she guest starred on The Odd Couple and Odd Man Out. She appeared in the TV movie Pleasure Palace. In the Eighties she appeared in the TV movie Stark and guest starred on The Disney Sunday Movie. She reprised her role as Charline Darling in the Andy Griffith Show reunion movie Return to Mayberry.

Maggie Peterson would later work  for the Nevada Film Commission. She worked in location management for the movies Casino (1995), Mars Attacks! (1996), Perdita Durango (1997), Go (1999), and Pay It Forward (2000). She also worked in location manager for the 1998 TV movie Money Play$.

Maggie Peterson was perfectly cast as Charlene Darling, the overly superstitious, overly flirtatious hillbilly who had a crush on Andy Taylor and was pursued by Ernest T. Bass (Howard Morris). While Maggie Peterson will probably always be known best for Charlene Darling on The Andy Griffith Show, she could and did play other roles. On The Andy Griffith Show she also played the secretary Doris, who was a far from Charlene as one could get. In the Mayberry R.F.D. episode she played Edna, a new waitress at one of Mayberry's coffee shops. Edna is also a far cry from Charlene, preferring flowery descriptions when talking about the food served by the shop. Maggie Peterson was a fine actress who will always be remembered as Charlene on The Andy Griffith Show, but who did much more.

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