Irene Ryan

Irene Ryan

Original Name Jessie Irene Noblett
El Paso, El Paso County, Texas, USA
Death 26 Apr 1973 (aged 70)
Santa Monica, Los Angeles County, California, USA
Burial Santa Monica, Los Angeles County, California, USA
Plot Mausoleum, Corridor C
Memorial ID 921 · View Source
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Actress. She is best remembered for playing the role of 'Granny' on the CBS television sitcom "The Beverly Hillbillies," which ran from 1962 until 1971. Her career spanned six decades and was one of the few entertainers who achieved success in vaudeville, radio, film, television, and Broadway. She was born Jessie Irene Noblett in El Paso, Texas. She began her career at the age of 11 after winning $3 for singing "Pretty Baby" in an amateur contest at the Valencia Theater in San Francisco. When she was 20, she married writer-comedian Tim Ryan and they performed in vaudeville as a double act, known in show business as a "Dumb Dora" routine, billed as "Tim and Irene." They had their own series of short subjects in the 1930s for Educational Pictures, and later worked in feature films for Monogram Pictures. In 1936, substituting for comedian Jack Benny, they starred in "The Jello Summer Show" on NBC radio's "Red" Network. In 1942 they divorced and she toured with Bob Hope's United Services Organization troupe during World War II, making regular appearances on his radio show, and also played Edgar Kennedy's wife in two of his series of short films in 1943. That same year, she appeared in the country music film "O, My Darling Clementine," starring Country music legend Roy Acuff as a singing sheriff. In 1946 she married Harold Knox (divorced in 1961) and continued to work in motion pictures of the late 1940s and early 1950s, generally playing fussy or nervous women. In 1944 she appeared in the film "Hot Rhythm," in which she sang "Happiest Girl in Town." In January 1955, Ryan made her first television sitcom appearance on an episode of CBS's "The Danny Thomas Show." She appeared with actor Walter Brennan in an episode of his ABC television sitcom, "The Real McCoys" and was cast in three episodes as 'Cynthia Boyle' of the 1960 to 1961 CBS television sitcom "Bringing Up Buddy." In 1962 she was cast in her most famous role, as 'Daisy "Granny" Bodine' the matriarch of the Clampett clan, in "The Beverly Hillbillies," for which she received two Emmy Award nominations for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series in 1963 and 1964. Her other television credits include "Mr. Ed" (1958) and "Petticoat Junction" (1963). After the cancellation of "The Beverly Hillbillies" she was offered a starring role in a proposed television series in which she would have played a character similar to that of 'Granny'. While interested, she decided to put the project on hold so that she could fulfill her dream of performing on Broadway. In 1972 she helped to create and also starred in the role of 'Berthe' in the Broadway musical "Pippin," in which she sang the number "No Time At All", which mentions, "a man who calls me Granny." On March 10, 1973, she suffered a stroke during a performance of "Pippin" and returned California on her doctor's orders and was hospitalized, where it was discovered that she had an inoperable brain tumor. She died the following month in Santa Monica, California at the age of at St. John's Hospital in Santa Monica, California at the age of 70. In 1973, prior to her death, she was nominated for a Tony Award as Best Supporting or Featured Actress (Musical) for her performance in "Pippin". In 1972 she started the Irene Ryan Acting Scholarship awards scholarships to outstanding actors who participate in the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival.

Bio by: William Bjornstad

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Irene "Granny" Ryan
1902 - 1973



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  • Maintained by: Find a Grave
  • Added: 31 Dec 2000
  • Find a Grave Memorial 921
  • Find a Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Irene Ryan (17 Oct 1902–26 Apr 1973), Find a Grave Memorial no. 921, citing Woodlawn Cemetery, Santa Monica, Los Angeles County, California, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave .