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Irene Ryan, "Granny", Beverly Hillbillies, grave or crypt, Woodlawn Memorial Cemetery, Santa Monica, California, photo

Irene Ryan, "Granny", Beverly Hillbillies, grave or crypt, Woodlawn Memorial Cemetery, Santa Monica, California, photo

The grave or crypt of Irene Ryan, best known as "Granny" on The Beverly Hillbillies television series. Ryan was born on October 17, 1902 as Jesse Irene Noblett, the daughter of James and Catherine (McSharry) Noblett at El Paso, Texas. Her father was born in North Carolina and her mother was born in Ireland. Some web sites list her place of birth as San Francisco, California but this is incorrect. She was born in El Paso while her father was a soldier based at Fort Bliss, which is also at El Paso. Not long after she was born, the family moved to San Francisco. The 1910 Census does list her place of birth as California. The 1920 Census and her death certificate both list her birth place as Texas. In 1963, she was interviewed by the El Paso Times newspaper and she then stated that she was born in El Paso.

Ryan got her start in show business at the age of 11 by winning a singing contest. She was soon making appearances in vaudeville and later moved to radio. She toured with Bob Hope when performing with the USO for the troops and later became a regular on the Bob Hope radio program. This was followed by appearances on other radio programs as well as small parts in several movies and guest appearances on various television series. By the early 1960's, the job offers were coming less frequently and it appeared that her career was coming to an end. In 1962, she made it known that she wanted to audition for the role of "Granny" in the upcoming Beverly Hillbillies television series. It had already been pretty much decided that the role of Granny would be played by Bea Benaderet who would later be known as Kate on Petticoat Junction. There was also concern that Ryan, who was now 60 years old, was too young and too sophisticated to play the role of Granny. She was able to convince them to let her audition anyway and the rest is history. They knew that they had found the perfect "Granny" as she transformed herself into the feisty, independent, backwoods Ozarks Granny. Her official character name was Daisy Moses, the mother-in-law of Jed Clampett played by Buddy Ebsen. Despite playing his mother-in-law, Irene Ryan was only six years older than Buddy Ebsen in real life. Bea Benaderet agreed to the change in casting and took on the role of Pearl Bodine, a cousin of Jed Clampett and the mother of Jethro and Jethrine, with Max Baier, Jr. playing both roles. The characters of Pearl and Jethrine disappeared from the cast quickly. Rounding out the Clampett family was Elly May Clampett (Donna Douglas), the daughter of Jed Clampett. The Beverly Hillbillies was broadcast for nine seasons from 1962 to 1971 with a total of 274 episodes with Irene Ryan appearing in every episode. With the role of Granny, Ryan had finally achieved the status of a star and became one of the most well known characters in television history.

After The Beverly Hillbillies came to an end in 1971, Ryan took on the role of Berthe in the Broadway musical, Pippin, from October, 1972 to March, 1973. On March 10, 1973, during a performance of Pippin, Ryan suffered a stroke. She was returned to California for medical care where it was determined that she had an inoperable brain tumor. She died about six weeks later on April 26, 1973 in Santa Monica. She was 70 years old. She had been married and divorced twice but had no children and left no heirs. Her estate was left to fund the Irene Ryan Acting Scholarship Awards. The remains of Irene "Granny" Ryan are held within a mausoleum crypt in Woodlawn Memorial Cemetery, Santa Monica, California. The second name on the nameplate of her crypt is that of Anna Thompson, her sister, who was seventeen years older than Ryan.

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