Irene Ryan was told she was ''too young'' to play Granny in The Beverly Hillbillies
The actress had to convince Paul Henning to give her an opportunity to audition.
It's usually the case that after an actor reaches a certain age, they become "too old" for many of the roles on television. In Irene Ryan's case, the exact opposite was true. In an interview with the Associated Press, Ryan recounted her early talks for the role of Granny in The Beverly Hillbillies. During a pre-production meeting, the casting director told her that she was too young for the role.
Luckily, Ryan was a friend of series creator Paul Henning and decided to go straight to him to ask for an opportunity to audition for the role. Unfortunately, Henning's response was the same as the casting director, and he reiterated that he felt Ryan was simply too young to play the role. However, with the spirit of Granny Clampett, Ryan fought back. She countered, "Look, Paul, do I have to go home and get my grey wig and shawl to convince you I can play Granny?"
Moreover, Ryan argued that her younger age was more of an asset than Henning had originally allowed himself to believe, as it would be helpful during the grueling hours shooting on set. She countered, "If you can get anybody older than me to play the role, she won't be able to stand the pace. I know what those 7-to-7 schedules are like."
At the time, Henning was reportedly testing three other actresses for the role with Buddy Ebsen, who played Jed Clampett. Finally, Ryan convinced Henning to allow her to test with Ebsen, which allowed her to win the role.
Ryan went on to play the role of Granny for 274 episodes spanning nine seasons. She was also nominated for two Primetime Emmy Awards.