Imagine getting the chance to go on the road with comic legend Bob Hope. Well, one “Beverly Hillbillies” star did just that with him.
Irene Ryan, who played “Granny” Daisy Moses on the CBS sitcom, spent time touring with Hope as part of his USO troupe during World War II. That’s according to an article from the Daily Independent Journal.
She was known as “the gal who makes Bob Hope laugh,” according to IMDb. This all happened before getting the part for which Ryan is known all over the world. Ryan had built up a career in vaudeville, radio, and movies before TV came calling with “The Beverly Hillbillies” role.
Between 1948-50, she was a co-star with Hope on his NBC radio show “The Bob Hope Show.”
‘Beverly Hillbillies’ Star Found Her Way To Broadway For ‘Pippin’
Ryan played on the CBS sitcom for all nine seasons. Her “Granny” character even made appearances on “Petticoat Junction” and “Green Acres.” That’s not surprising since all three of these shows were created by the same man, Paul Henning.
After the show ended, Ryan headed out to Broadway where she co-starred with a young Ben Vereen in “Pippin.” Reviews were good for her performances, but her health became an issue. She became ill and was diagnosed as having an inoperable brain tumor.
Irene Ryan died on April 26, 1973, at 70 years old. Ryan was the first cast member of “The Beverly Hillbillies” to die.
At this time, the lone remaining original cast member still alive is Max Baer Jr. at 83 years old. Baer Jr. reportedly once said Ryan “smoked like a chimney” and many feared for her health.
Ryan received two Emmy Award nominations in 1963 and 1964 for her role on “The Beverly Hillbillies.” She also received a Tony Award nomination in 1973 for her work in “Pippin.”
Sadly, her death came right as she was realizing a lifelong dream of performing on Broadway. Classic TV fans, though, have been watching Granny’s antics for decades. That will continue to happen as long as “The Beverly Hillbillies” is on somewhere in the world.
Another CBS Show Star Made Early Appearance With Ryan
Ryan managed to snag some screen time with a future CBS show star in an episode of “The Beverly Hillbillies.”
Ellen Corby, who played Grandma Walton on “The Waltons,” showed up in “The Widow Poke Arrives” episode.
IMDb states this was the show’s ninth episode of its third season. Corby played Emma Poke, who got some help from “matchmaker” Granny toward finding her a man.
But Emma didn’t want any of that action. She and Jed Clampett, played by Buddy Ebsen, strategized ways to get Granny to stop trying to get Emma with a dude.