Board debates business incentives, COVID

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The late Betty Lynn was known to millions of “The Andy Griffith Show” fans as the long-suffering, sweet-hearted girlfriend of Deputy Barney Fife.
After moving to Mount Airy in 2007, she became a fixture in Andy Griffith’s hometown, not only attending Mayberry Days each year but later making regular appearances at The Andy Griffith Museum to meet with fans and sign autographs.
Her fans will soon have the opportunity to get to know her better, to learn about her childhood, her early career, her Mayberry years, and what she was doing in the years after “The Andy Griffith Show,” with the publication of her autobiography, “Becoming Thelma Lou: My Journey to Hollywood, Mayberry, and Beyond.
The Surry Arts Council will be observing the day with a book release event at The Andy Griffith Museum.
A writer and co-founder of The Andy Griffith Show Rerun Watcher’s Club, Clark has been a life-long fan of the show and grew to know Lynn well over the years.
” McAbee, a concert and event promoter who has been involved in organizing many of “The Andy Griffith Show” cast reunions over the years, said he believes fans will come away from the book with a greater appreciation for the vast career Lynn had apart from “The Andy Griffith Show.
“It’s amazing the career she had during the Golden Years of Hollywood, the people she worked with, the films she was in, long before ‘The Andy Griffith Show.

Board debates business incentives, COVID

The late Betty Lynn was known to millions of “The Andy Griffith Show” fans as the long-suffering, sweet-hearted girlfriend of Deputy Barney Fife. Over the decades since the show left the air, many of those fans got the chance to meet her — Lynn was a frequent guest at Mayberry-themed festivals and fairs around the country and a regular visitor to Mount Airy’s Mayberry Days. After moving to Mount Airy in 2007, she became a fixture in Andy Griffith’s hometown, not only attending Mayberry Days each year but later making regular appearances at The Andy Griffith Museum to meet with fans and sign autographs. Lynn, who passed away Oct. 16, was a favorite among the show’s fans, because she cared about them and showed it — often spending time chatting with them, getting to know them, even recalling them in chance meetings years later. Her fans will soon have the opportunity to get to know her better, to learn about her childhood, her early career, her Mayberry years, and what she was doing in the years after “The Andy Griffith Show,” with the publication of her autobiography, “Becoming Thelma Lou: My Journey to Hollywood, Mayberry, and Beyond.” The hardback book, coming in at more than 300 pages, will officially be released Aug. 29 — which would have been her 96th birthday. The Surry Arts Council will be observing the day with a book release event at The Andy Griffith Museum. “We will be having drawings for Betty Lynn memorabilia ranging from a purse, hat, jewelry, sunglasses, and other treasures from 1 p.m. until 3 p.m.,” said Tanya Jones, executive director of the Surry Arts Council. Jones. A close friend of Lynn’s who wrote the Forward in the book, Jones said copies of the book will be on sale beginning that day. “The first 50 books sold will include a bookmark autographed by Betty,” she said. The museum will be selling the books at $40 each. While Betty died last autumn, two men who helped her compile and write the book — Jim Clark of Nashville, Tennessee, and Tim McAbee, of Sevierville, Tennessee — recently said they believe her fans will enjoy the work. “I think people in Mount Airy especially will like it,” Clark said. A writer and co-founder of The Andy Griffith Show Rerun Watcher’s Club, Clark has been a life-long fan of the show and grew to know Lynn well over the years. “The book has got a lot about Mount Airy toward the end, when she moved to Mount Airy. She loved living there, she has so many nice things to say about the people of Mount Airy.” McAbee, a concert and event promoter who has been involved in organizing many of “The Andy Griffith Show” cast reunions over the years, said he believes fans will come away from the book with a greater appreciation for the vast career Lynn had apart from “The Andy Griffith Show.” “I think being in the USO, and some of the conditions she traveled in and performed in, as a young lady right out of high school,” are among the revelations in the book he said stands out in his memory. “She was in the China-Burma-Indian theater (during World War 2). Even though she wasn’t on the front lines, the travel was terrible, being the lone female, she was in tough conditions. I never really gave that much thought until I heard her describe that.” That period of her life, just after she turned 18, was a sometimes-harrowing experience. She and some of her USO colleagues traveled into remote areas to entertain and visit with soldiers in hospitals. That often meant sleeping on torn, filthy mattresses on floors, traversing rugged countryside, and dodging Japanese soldier encampments to get to the remote soldier hospitals. Another part of her story that stands out for McAbee is the expansive career she had prior to landing the role of Thelma Lou. “It’s amazing the career she had during the Golden Years of Hollywood, the people she worked with, the films she was in, long before ‘The Andy Griffith Show.’ I think that will surprise a lot of readers, all the things she did.” McAbee said he first met Lynn while attending the Jan. 19, 2000 ceremony unveiling the Hollywood Walk of Fame star dedicated to Don Knotts. “That’s where I really started to get to know her,” he said. He invited her to several of the Mayberry cast reunions he was producing at Pigeon Forge, and over time he was struck with the stories of her career and her experience in the entertainment industry. “It was the downtime during those shows we got to hang out and I really got to know her. On my part, that was the impetus for the book. I encouraged her to share some of those stories, some of her memories.” Once she gave her approval for the idea, McAbee said he began recording many of those talks, and the two of them turned to Clark to help, because of his writing and publishing background. “Betty and I both just admire him so much, his knowledge involving the show…he was the first person we brought on board to help us with the book.” From there, it was a matter of sporadic meetings with Lynn, recording her memories for the nearly two-decade long project. Clark, whose friendship with Lynn dates to when he met her while she was involved with the 1986 Return To Mayberry movie, acknowledged that was a long time for a single book to be under production. “It was very much a Mayberry pace,” he said with a laugh. “We took our time with it. She was busy doing other things, we were busy, we just kind of worked it in when we could. There was a lot of ebb and flow to our process.” There were periods, he said, when she was less interested, and interviews would stop for while. McAbee said the 2006 death of Don Knotts affected her deeply, halting work on the project for a couple of years. Still, they always returned to doing interviews and transcribing the recordings. Then, in 2020, he said Lynn told them the time for compiling information was over, so the writing began in earnest. “It was pretty much done before it was started,” Clark said of the writing process. “Betty has such a great memory for details about her life…she is such a great storyteller….we didn’t change much of anything other than organizing and doing the things you need to do when you change from spoken word to written word. It really is her telling her story.” “The process went right up until she passed,” McAbee said. As Clark was writing and organizing, any loose ends or questions that came up they were able to get Mount Airy resident and photographer Hobart Jones to slip over to see her, with a recorder in hand, to ask her a few questions, allowing Clark to finish the manuscript before she died. “Fortunately, we got it all written and she got a chance to look at the manuscript and approve before she passed away in October,” Clark said. While she didn’t see the final product, Clark said the cover photo is one that Lynn often said was among her favorites. All totaled, the book spanning her life includes 140 pictures — some from her childhood, others from her USO services and pre-Andy Griffith career, and many others taken by Hobart Jones and others in more recent years. “We view the book as one final gift from her to her fans,” Clark said. “I hope people enjoy it, maybe learn some things they didn’t know, see some things they hadn’t seen.” “Becoming Thelma Lou: My Journey to Hollywood, Mayberry, and Beyond“ will remain on sale at The Andy Griffith Museum after the Aug. 29 launch party. It will also be available, in both hardback and soft cover editions, at Weaver’s Department Store (https://www.weaversdepartmentstore.com/index.php) and at other retailers such as Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Books A Million, and others.
The Original Article can be found on www.mtairynews.com

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