Web Cover

I'm a Woman by Irene Ryan

"IRENE RYAN, who became an International star for her iconic portrayal of "Granny" Daisy Moses in the long-running hit TV series "The Beverly Hillbillies" [1962-1971], talks with guest hosts Roy Rogers and Dale Evans and sings a special material version of Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller's "I'm A Woman" [originally written for her Las Vegas nightclub act] on the January 18, 1969 episode of "The Hollywood Palace". Irene received multiple awards, including Emmy nominations for "Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series" in 1963 and 1964, and was one of the few entertainers who found success in Vaudeville [partnered with her husband Tim Ryan as "Tim and Irene"], Radio [a regular on "The Bob Hope Show"], Films ["Dear Secretary", "Bonzo Goes to College", "Blackbeard the Pirate", etc.]. Television and Broadway, where she received a Tony Award nomination for her performance as another "Granny" in Stephen Schwartz & Roger Hirson's Tony Award winning "PIPPIN", directed & choreographed by Bob Fosse. I met Irene on the first day of rehearsal for "PIPPIN" and we became fast friends, in spite of the nearly fifty-year difference in our ages; at the time I was 24 and Irene was 72. As standby by for the title role [originated by my friend John Rubinstein], I had the pleasure of playing "Pippin" to her "Granny" on numerous occasions, and not only was she an audience pleaser, she was one of the most generous performers I have ever shared a stage with. A wonderful actress, comedienne and singer, and one of the dearest, kindest, most loving human beings I have ever had the pleasure of knowing, and her "Hillbillies" costars, Buddy Epson, Max Baer, Jr., Donna Douglas, Nancy Kulp, Raymond Bailey, Harriet McGibbon, producer Paul Henning, and friends and frequent costars Bob Hope and Richard Deacon all felt the same. Wherever she went she was swamped by fans who loved her, and she appreciated them and loved them right back. From her the first preview performance in "PIPPIN" at The Kennedy Center to Opening Night on Broadway, which landed her a Motown recording contract the next day [at the time of her passing, under the guidance of producer Bob Crew, she had recorded half the songs for the unreleased album; two tracks, Stephen Schwartz' "No Time At All" and "Time" by Bob Crew, were released on 45 and became number one singles], to her final matinee six-months later, Irene literally stopped the show eight times a week, receiving the kind of tumultuous, five minute ovations reserved for only our most beloved stage performers. Three days after receiving her Tony Award nomination, though undetected by the audience, she suffered a stroke on stage during her final Saturday matinee performance. That evening she flew to Los Angeles and returned to her home in Santa Monica for one last day before being hospitalized that Monday, and operated on for a brain tumor a few days later. She watched the 1973 Tony Awards from her hospital bed, and passed away the following week. on April 26, 1973, just a month after her final Broadway performance. In 1971, after "The Beverly Hillbillies" ended, she established the Irene Ryan Acting Competition, providing annual scholarships for promising student actors. To this day, Irene's "Granny" continues to gain new fans, a favorite with young and old alike, as "The Beverly Hillbillies" continues on in daily reruns around the world."
Walter Willison
August 18, 2011
[Mr. Willison is a Tony nominee and Theatre World Award winning actor, writer, director and producer who has starred on Broadway ['TWO BY TWO","PIPPIN", "NORMAN, IS THAT YOU?", Bernstein & Schwartz "MASS" at The Kennedy Center, etc.], in films ["Ziegfeld: The Man & His Women", "Harry and Walter Go To New York"], and Television ["McDuff, The Talking Dog", "An American Tragedy"].

I'm a Woman
Performed by
Irene Ryan
Originally by
Christine Kittrell

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