Tiny, spry, comic character actress dreamt of becomming a Broadway star. Instead she became a regular guest on Bob Hope’s stable of TV specials and USO tours throughout the 1940s & 1950s while making occasional movie shots before achieving TV celebrity as the wacky,wiry “Grannie” on the long-running,cornball series the Beverly Hillbillies from 1962-1971.
After the “Hillbillies” cancellation Irene finally achieved her lifelong dream as the raunchy grandmother Berthe in the Broadway smash Pippin. However, Irene’s success was cut short by what appeared to be a stroke but turned out to be a malignant brain tumor. Irene passed away in 1973, leaving her estate to the Irene Ryan Foundation for aspiring comic actors.
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