Name at birth: Irene Noblette
Irene Ryan became a favorite with TV viewers as Granny, the feisty, shotgun-toting old bird on the sitcom The Beverly Hillbillies. Irene Ryan already had enjoyed a long career as a character actor: she and her first husband, Tim Ryan, had a vaudeville act which became the radio show Ted and Irene, and she also toured with comedian Bob Hope and made regular appearances on his radio show. The Beverly Hillbillies ran on the CBS network from from 1962-71, and after the show ended Ryan established the Irene Ryan Acting Competition, providing annual scholarships for promising student actors. In 1972 she created the role of Berthe in the Bob Fosse-directed Broadway musical Pippin, in which she sang the show-stopping number "No Time At All." Irene Ryan was nominated for a 1973 Tony Award for her work in Pippin. That same year she died after suffering a stroke onstage during a performance of the show.
Irene Ryan is no relation to actress Meg Ryan.