IRENE RYAN Biography - Actors and Actresses


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Name: Irene Ryan                                                                             
Birth name: Irene Noblette                                                                   
Born: 17 October 1902 El Paso, Texas                                                         
Died: 26 April 1973 Santa Monica, California                                                 
Irene Ryan (October 17, 1902 – April 26, 1973) was Emmy- and Tony Award-nominated           
actress, one of the few entertainers who found success in vaudeville, radio,                 
film, television and Broadway.                                                               
She is most widely known for her portrayal of "Granny" on the long-running TV                 
series The Beverly Hillbillies (1962-1971), for which she was nominated for Emmy             
Awards for "Outstanding Continued Performance by an Actress in a Series (Lead)"               
in 1963 and 1964.                                                                             
Irene's career in vaudeville began by touring in an act called "Tim & Irene",                 
with her first husband, actor Tim Ryan, who was also a prolific actor in                     
multiple media. In the mid-1930s they made several short films for Educational               
Pictures based on the vaudeville shows.                                                       
Her first feature-length movie appearance was a bit part in the 1941 romantic                 
comedy, Unfinished Business, which starred Irene Dunne, Robert Montgomery, and               
Preston Foster. In 1943's Ann Miller musical, Reveille with Beverly, she had                 
another small part, notable only in that it was her first time working with her               
ex-husband Tim since their 1942 divorce. Around this time she toured with Bob                 
Hope's renowned USO tours. She later performed on NBC Radio's "The Bob Hope Show",           
from 1948 to 1950.                                                                           
Her first starring big-screen role was with Tim Ryan and Ann Corio, in Sarong                 
Girl later in 1943. Tim, Irene, and Corio teamed up again, along with Charles                 
Butterworth, in the Arthur Dreifuss film The Sultan's Daughter in 1944. Also in               
1944, Tim and Irene were paired again, along with Dona Drake and Robert Lowery               
in another musical comedy, Hot Rhythm. In the following 17 years she had various             
roles in 25 movies, including Bonzo Goes to College and Rockabilly Baby, which               
also featured Les Brown and His Band of Renown.                                               
The Beverly Hillbillies debut in 1962 brought many new fans, as the show jumped               
to #1 in the USA in three weeks, a feat (as of 2004) not since matched. Popular               
radio and television actress Bea Benaderet was considered a shoo-in to play "Granny"         
until the more feisty Ryan auditioned for producer Paul Henning. As a                         
consolation, Henning had his writers come up with the part of "Cousin Pearl" for             
Benaderet, who became a series regular. Soon afterward, Benaderet was given the               
starring role in her own spin-off hit series, Petticoat Junction.                             
Irene played "Granny" on an episode of Mr. Ed, and appeared on the TV game show               
Password as well as appearing on several variety shows. After the series' run,               
she made two Love, American Style appearances, the second one airing                         
Her final acting role was also her first Broadway role, as "Berthe", grandmother             
of "Pippin" (played by John Rubinstein) in the popular musical Pippin. Despite               
performing only one song in the entire show, she would bring down the house                   
nightly with her show-stopping solo "No Time At All". The song earned her                     
numerous call backs and ovations, especially on the lyric "It's hard to believe               
I'm being led astray/ By a man who calls me Granny", a reference to her role on               
the The Beverly Hillbillies. She was nominated for a Tony Award for her                       
performance, but lost to actress Patricia Elliott from Stephen Sondheim's A                   
Little Night Music.                                                                           
The Irene Ryan Acting Scholarships are awarded annually to deserving collegiate               
actors by the Kennedy Center. In addition to regional awards, a national awards               
competition is held in Washington D.C.