Being on The Beverly Hillbillies was like show business heaven for Irene Ryan

After winning a singing contest as a child, Ryan knew she wanted to be a star.

There's a saying that there's no business like show business, and for Irene Ryan, those words had a deeper meaning. The actress played the role of Granny in the classic rural comedy The Beverly Hillbillies. Produced by Paul Henning, the series debuted in 1962 in black & white before switching to color in 1965.

Granny was a true hillbilly and didn't allow the move to Beverly Hills to change her personality. For Ryan, the starring role was one she had longed for since she first realized she wanted to be a star. During an interview with the Newspaper Enterprise Association in 1963, the actress spoke about her emotions while having her dream career.

"How do I feel about all of this? It's like I have gone to heaven," she revealed to Hollywood correspondent Erskine Johnson. When she was younger, Ryan won an amateur singing contest, and that's when she realized that she was destined for big-time fame. When the opportunity to work on The Beverly Hillbillies arose, she was ecstatic and laughed.

"Honestly, it's so funny. I sit and just laugh. Six months ago, no one cared whether I was alive or dead. Now, everyone I meet asks, 'How old are you really, Granny?' Well, I ask, 'How old are you?' So you'll never know."

While now you can conduct a quick search on the internet to find out what age she was in 1963, during that time, Irene Ryan kept fans guessing, saying, "Let's just say I'm older than Shirley Temple but younger than Sophie Tucker."

The road to stardom wasn't easy for Ryan, but she knew that thriving in show business would take time. She was willing to wait for it, no matter how long the process took. She saw minor success in radio with The Tim and Irene Ryan Show, which included her husband.

"I always loved show business, every minute of it," she said. "Why? To really love show business, you have to be of it, not just in it. That's me, honey, I'm of it."

There was no better actress for the role of Granny.

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23 Comments

Runeshaper 1 month ago
It’s super nice to hear that Irene Ryan enjoyed working on the show and being Granny ☺️
cperrynaples 1 month ago
Another credit for Irene: she was in the My 3 Sons episode where Steve went on vacation without his boys! It was in fact the only episode where none of the sons appeared, although Steve did call Bub to see how they were doing! Fun Fact: Irene's husband in the episode was played by character actor Ed Begley! Several years later, his son Ed Jr. made his acting debut as one of Robbie's college buddies!
JHP 1 month ago
she was so so golden on that show :) - her and the kangaroo - my lord; so damm funny!!!
MrsPhilHarris 1 month ago
She was also a regular on the old time radio show The Campbell Soup Show with Jack Carson.
Her character’s name was “Miss Ryan.” They we’re very original with character names on that show. Jack Carson played Jack Carson, Arthur Treacher play Treacher, and Norma Jean Nilsson played Norma Jean.
Oddly after all those names, the nephew was called Tugwell. 🤷‍♀️
DId he have a secretary named "Mrs. A-Wiggins"? ...LOL!
Sway 1 month ago
I read that Bea Benaderet tried for the roll of Granny. Creator Paul Henning didn't think she was right for the part. When Irene tried for the part, Henning and Bea both agreed that Irene was Granny.
JHP Sway 1 month ago
Irene had the spunk needed for the role - cant see Bea spanking Jethro
cperrynaples JHP 1 month ago
No, but she proably spanked Jethine...LOL! Fun Fact: Jethine's voice was done by Linda Kaye Henning, who would played one of Bea's daughters on Petticoat Junction!
woodtree65 JHP 29 days ago
Grany spanking Jethro was the funniest thing.
JHP woodtree65 29 days ago
yeah I can see that - she was so frail and spunky and he was husky and dopey (hate to say that tho)
Sway 1 month ago
Irene Ryan was excellent as Granny. Glad she found her success and appreciated it.
FrankensteinLover 1 month ago
She mastered her Role as Granny, I always Joke with People she should have Married Ernest T Bass thats what she Reminded me of on that Show. A wild one.
JHP FrankensteinLover 1 month ago
their offspring would have made daffy duck blush
JHP FrankensteinLover 1 month ago
ya know - maybe they had a secret affair and spawned Frank Gorshin?
FrankensteinLover JHP 1 month ago
Granny Bass, they both were Wild and hilarious. Fittingly Rodney Dillard from the Darlings said that Howard Morris ( Ernest ) was the exact same Person in Real Life.
JHP FrankensteinLover 1 month ago
I believe it - Howard Morris was a directing genius in many other shows - like Dick Van Dyke show

"how do you do Mrs Wylie"
FrankensteinLover JHP 1 month ago
He was So Smart, and I love that he was a Little Mean but made up for it by being Real Healthy.
JHP FrankensteinLover 1 month ago
there wasnt a window that was safe:)
daDoctah 1 month ago
You definitely want to check her out in "Reveille with Beverly", where she plays second fiddle to Ann Miller.
Peter_Falk_Fan 1 month ago
The story mentions her winning a singing contest when she was younger. I found a clip of her singing in the 1944 movie "Hot Rhythm". Her husband, Tim (maybe ex-husband since they divorced in 1943), starred in this film.

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