MOUNT AIRY — Betty Lynn, the brown-eyed beauty who played Barney Fife’s sweetie Thelma Lou on The Andy Griffith Show, turns 90 years old Monday. And her adopted hometown is celebrating the occasion.
The local arts council has put together a series of events throughout the day, starting with a 12:30 p.m. autograph session at the Andy Griffith Museum and concluding with a 7 p.m. screening of one of Lynn’s favorite movies, June Bride, in which she starred with Bette Davis.
The autograph session lasts three hours and will be followed by the unveiling of a new Betty Lynn exhibit next door to the museum in the lower level of the Andy Griffith Playhouse. It is a comprehensive exhibit of her career, including memorabilia from her USO tour in World War II, Broadway shows, various Hollywood movies, and artifacts from her role as Thelma Lou.
“We have a lot of items from her career and wanted to feature her because she has been such an important member of our community,” said Tanya Jones, executive director of the Surry Arts Council. “Betty will have lived here 10 years on Jan. 17. She’s been a wonderful ambassador for our community. She’s hugely important to Mayberry fans. We wanted to honor her and we thought her 90th birthday would be a good time to do it.”
At 5 p.m., fans can have dinner with Betty — by reservation only — at The Loaded Goat in downtown Mount Airy. The eatery, named after one of the most popular episodes of The Andy Griffith Show, is one of Lynn’s favorite restaurants in Mount Airy.
At 6:45 p.m., the festivities shift to the historic Earle Theatre. Lynn will talk briefly about her role in June Bride and David Browning, aka the Mayberry Deputy, will make a special presentation to the birthday girl who was born Aug. 29, 1926, in Kansas City, Missouri.
“It is so wonderful to have Betty, one of the most important folks from the Andy Griffith Show, living here in Mount Airy where she can meet and greet fans regularly,” Jones said. “She’s been an enormous advocate for the arts and we wanted to show her how much she means to us.”
Admission fee to the Andy Griffith Museum is $6 and fans can purchase an autographed photo of Lynn for $10. Reservations are required for the birthday dinner at the Loaded Goat, where fans can order from the regular menu. Tickets for the 7 p.m. movie are $6. For complete information, call 336-786-7998, or go to www.surryarts.org.