During her earlier show business career(before Granny on "The Beverly Hillbillies"), Irene Ryan appeared in a number of "B" films scripted by her first husband Tim Ryan. In these films, Ms.Ryan usually was cast as a wisecracking, man-hungry old maid.
Irene Ryan and her first husband Tim Ryan had a radio show on NBC radio called "The Tim and Irene Show".
Irene Ryan often cheerfully said that she was virtually washed up in the entertainment business until she landed the role of Granny on "The Beverly Hillbillies".
It has been surmised by more than a few in the entertainment industry that producer Paul Henning may have more than casually based Irene Ryan's character of Granny from "The Beverly Hillbillies" on the character of Mammy Yokum from the comic strip "Li'l Abner".
Irene Ryan only had to read one line of script before she was hired to play the character of Granny on the "The Beverly Hillbillies".
Irene Ryan was the author of "Granny's Hillbilly Cookbook".
Irene Ryan was 5'3".
Irene Ryan toured with Orson Wells and Jimmy Durante, entertaining the troops during World War Two.
Not known as a singer, Irene Ryan, brought down the house, when she sang "No Time At All" as Berthe, from the 1972 Broadway production of "Pippin," directed by Bob Fosse.
Irene Ryan made her show business debut at the age of ten in a contest in Scramento, California, in 1912. She entered the contest as a vocalist. Ryan's mother was initially against her going into the entertainment field, but the mother of actor Arthur Lake, convinced her that Irene had too much talent not to be given a chance to use it.
Irene Ryan almost didn't get the role of Granny on "The Beverly Hillbillies". Producer Paul Henning was set to cast Bea Benaderet as Granny when at the last minute he decided she was wrong physically. In fact, it was actually Benaderet who suggested Ryan to Henning when she saw Ryan in a casting line.
Irene Ryan was very lucky in one aspect of her career. Even after she became internationally famous in her role as Granny on the "Beverly Hillbillies", she was still able to go out in public with relative ease because she was not recognizable without her Granny make-up and costuming.
Irene Ryan's life and career is discussed, in-depth, in the book "Funny Ladies, Sitcom Queens" by Michael Karol.
Irene Ryan was a co-star of "The Bob Hope Show" on radio from 1948-1950.
Irene Ryan was nominated for an Emmy Award in 1963 and in 1964 as Outstanding Performance By An Actress In A Series (Lead) for "The Beverley Hillbillies".
Irene Ryan was married and divorced twice. Her first husband was Tim Ryan and that marriage lasted from 1922-1942. Ms.Ryan's second husband was Harold E. Knox and they were married from 1946-1961. Ms. Ryan had no children from either marriage.
Having no living heirs at the time of her death, Irene Ryan left an estate worth well over a million dollars. These funds were used to establish The Irene Ryan Foundation which annually awards "The Irene Ryan Scholarships" to acting students from all over the United States. The students compete for the scholarships at "Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival"
Irene Ryan received a posthumous Tony Award nomination as Best Supporting Actress in a Musical for "Pippin" in 1973. The musical also starred Ben Vereen and both Ms. Ryan and Vereen were lauded by critics for their outstanding performances.
Pallbearers at the memorial service for Irene Ryan were Buddy Ebsen, Max Baer, Jr., and Paul Henning. Donna Douglas also attended the services. Irene Ryan is interred at Woodlawn Cemetery in Santa Monica, California. Ms.Ryan's tombstone has the name "Granny" on it, in honor of her character on the long running comedy series, "The Beverly Hillbillies."
Irene Ryan toured with Bob Hope's troupe during World War Two. She was known on the tour as "the gal who makes Bob Hope laugh."
IreneRyan: I believe that color will make the ratings of "The Beverly Hillbillies" go up 100% next season.