In 1960, Marlene Willis portrayed Lucy Matthews in a memorable episode of The Andy Griffith Show titled “Stranger in Town.” While it marked her only appearance in the franchise, viewers have long been curious about what happened to the stunning actress. Scroll below for details on her life and career after the show. 

Who Was Marlene Willis From ‘The Andy Griffith Show’? 

Prior to her appearance on The Andy Griffith Show, Willis, born in 1942, appeared in 1957’s Rockabilly Baby, 1958’s Attack of the Puppet People and made appearances in The Loretta Young Show in 1960. The California native had a musical background, performing in local variety shows and talent competitions throughout her childhood and teen years. 

In high school, she and her classmates performed on the show Rockin’ Rhythm on the local KTTV station as she continued to search for her big break. Willis released several singles under Verve Records in the late ‘50s before landing her role on The Andy Griffith Show at the age of 18. 

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In the classic and unforgettable episode, Ed Sawyer, played by William Lanteau, came to Mayberry to profess his love for Lucy, whom he described as the woman of his dreams. As the folks in Mayberry questioned the town’s new stranger and his odd behavior, Sheriff Andy Taylor gave him the benefit of the doubt. 

During the episode, it was revealed that Ed had never actually met Lucy before, leading to a very awkward exchange with her. He had only heard tales of the town of Mayberry and some of the people that lived there through one of his pals while serving in the U.S. Army. 

As an angry mob tried to run Ed out of town, Andy stepped in to deliver a speech about welcoming people into the neighborhood with open arms despite their quirks and differences. Sharing the screen with Andy Griffith, Ron Howard, Don Knotts and Phil Chambers was a huge career highlight for Willis. 

What Happened to Marlene Willis After ‘The Andy Griffith Show’? 

After captivating the audience on the CBS sitcom, Willis appeared in a 1961 episode of Maverick as well as an episode of Laramie that same year. Her last acting appearance came in a 1963 episode of The Dick Powell Theatre. The performer was married to Kerry Hodges from 1966 up until her death in 1982 at age 40 from cancer.