Maggie Peterson Mancuso, a beloved TV star who was best known as Charlene Darling in the comedy series ‘The Andy Griffith Show,’ passed away peacefully in her sleep last Sunday afternoon, May 15, surrounded by family. She was 81.
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The news was announced by a relative through a post on the actress’ official Facebook account. In the statement, it said that Maggie has been enduring deteriorating physical and emotional health since the death of her husband of over 40 years, jazz musician Gus Mancuso, due to Alzheimer’s disease. Her family had moved her from Last Vegas back home, and they were relieved to be there for her during her last days.
The post also expressed Maggie’s thankfulness to the community that she had built over the past years. That is, despite being far away from home, the community’s love, devotion, and generosity made her feel that she was not alone. And more importantly, it helped her make it through some very difficult times. And Maggie’s family is also equally very grateful for all the love and support.
The Andy Griffith Museum Instagram page also shared their sadness with the actress’ passing. They posted a throwback photo of Maggie in her breakthrough role as Charlene Darling, the only daughter of the musical family of North Carolina, which she landed in 1963. And in the caption they said, “She brought so much joy to her fans, and to our Mayberry Days® Festival. We will miss you Maggie.” This role has been her career game-changer as it put her name on the map and got her roles in other successful movies and TV shows.
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Maggie Peterson retired from acting in the ‘80s, and her final acting role was on the episode of ‘The Magical World of Disney,’ which aired in 1987. She then took up a location management job and became a location manager for multiple Las Vegas-based films, including ‘Casino’ and ‘Mars Attack!’
The family plans to have a private funeral service for Maggie in the next few weeks. Stay tuned for the details.