WATCH: ‘The Beverly Hillbillies’ Star Irene Ryan Once Hilariously Discussed Landing the Role of Granny

by Joe Rutland

While many stars of the classic TV series The Beverly Hillbillies have talked in interviews, one star who rarely did was Irene Ryan. Ryan, of course, is beloved for her portrayal of Daisy Mae Moses. Well, you all know her better as Granny, the cantankerous-yet-lovable mountain woman who keeps the moonshine nearby.

Ryan played Granny all through the show’s nine-year run on CBS. When it ended in 1971, The Beverly Hillbillies could say that, at one time, it was the No. 1 show on television. Not too bad for the creation from a guy named Paul Henning that focused on a family coming from the mountains to Beverly Hills.

Irene Ryan Of ‘The Beverly Hillbillies’ Says Luck Played Part In Joining Show

It’s rare, as we said, to come across a clip of Ryan, who died in 1973, talking about her role. But we found one here for you. Take a look at this from a documentary about The Beverly Hillbillies itself and even a little info about the actress and her career. Ryan definitely did more than play Granny on TV.

“It was quite a bit of luck, believe me, Jerry,” Ryan says in a 1971 interview. “You know, first of all, they thought I was too young to play Granny. And I said to Paul Henning, ‘If you get anybody any older, they’ll never make the series because they can’t get up at 5 o’clock in the morning.”

Buddy Ebsen, Max Baer Jr., and Donna Douglas also played important roles in The Beverly Hillbillies. Granny’s constant complaining to Jed and hearing her squawk his name is as iconic as anything from the show.

Paul Henning Recalls Conversation With Actress Before Casting Role

With the show’s focus on laughs, seeing a family go from their humble shack to a mansion provided plenty of storylines. Granny would find a way to bring her home remedies on The Beverly Hillbillies to the ill people around her. Of course, that home remedy was mostly from that XXX bottle she would pull out from under the sink.

Henning, who died in 2005, talked about casting Ryan in an interview with the Television Academy Foundation. Apparently, Ryan was on the Universal Studios lot one day. She decided to stop by and see him. They had known one another from Ryan making an appearance on The Dennis Day Show years earlier. Day’s name is synonymous with his time working alongside Jack Benny.

So, the show creator asks Ryan if she can play a hillbilly. “She said, ‘Are you kidding?’ … I was in [a] stock company and we played a theater in Arkansas.'” Henning would say that Ryan affirmed with him that she knows about hillbillies.