October 17, 1902 – April 26, 1973
Irene Ryan played Granny. Perfectly. When I was growing up, I thought her character was really annoying, but as I got older, I found her to be the best thing in the show. Those that knew her, called her Reenie.
In 1973, she was living on Esparta Way, in Santa Monica.
Her address was 107.
It’s a tricky one to find. Ask Steve Goldstein, who (again, thank you) took the pictures. Here’s a better view of the house.
Findadeath.com friend J. Mueller writes in: “Her husband was a respected Hollywood comedy writer and former vaudevillian named Tim Ryan. Good guy, from all accounts. His main claim to fame: He wrote the scripts for a dozen or so of the Bowery Boys movies with Leo and Huntz.” Thanks for the info!
Irene was appearing in Pippin, with Ben Vereen and a few others. She suffered a stroke while performing in a Saturday matinee. A few weeks later, on April 26th, she died of some sort of tumor, and hardening of the arteries, in St. John’s Hospital, in Santa Monica.
Findadeath.com friend Mitch writes in: it was a brain tumor. According to the death cert, glioblastoma is the fastest growing type.
She was 70 years old.
Her funeral was held on May 1st, and pallbearers were Max Baer, Kingsley Colton, Buddy Ebsen, Ralph Handley, Paul Henning and Edward Sherman. Honorary pallbearers were Bob Hope (ugh.), Bob Fosse, Al Simon and Ben Vereen.
Irene is buried in Woodlawn Cemetery, in Santa Monica, CA. I love the fact that the name GRANNY is on her tomb.
UPDATE December 2004, from Findadeath friend Fred: You might want to mention in your notes on Irene Ryan that she left her estate to establish a scholarship fund for student actors. In fact when I was in grad school, I auditioned for one of the “Irene Ryan Scholarships” (didn’t get it though). As I remember the estate was several millions of dollars, and as far as I know is still around today. Thanks, Fred!