According to a friend Anne Jeffreys, Rutherford died at about 5:30 p.m. Monday at her Beverly Hills home. She died of heart problems and had been ill for several months.
"She was a dear person, a very funny lady, wonderful heart, was always trying to do things for people," Jeffreys said.
Rutherford played sweetheart Polly Benedict in the long-running Andy Hardy series, a hugely popular string of comical, sentimental films. Lewis Stone starred as a small-town judge and Mickey Rooney as his spirited teenage son.
Born in 1917, Rutherford began performing on the stage as a child. She launched her movie career in Westerns while still in her teens, often appearing with singing cowboy hero Gene Autry and sometimes with John Wayne.
Her other films include "Whistling in the Dark," with Red Skelton, 1941, and its two sequels, "Whistling in Dixie" and "Whistling in Brooklyn"; "Orchestra Wives," with bandleader Glenn Miller, 1942; and "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty," with Danny Kaye, 1947. She largely retired from the screen in 1950, but appeared in a couple of films in the 1970s, "They Only Kill Their Masters," 1972, and "Won Ton Ton - The Dog Who Saved Hollywood," 1976.
Rutherford concurred with other cast members that no matter what else they had done, "Our obituary will say we were in 'Gone With the Wind' and we'll be proud of it."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.