I came across an article from 1981 titled "Hometown stars." The first person on the list was Irene Ryan.
April 26, 1981
By Jeannie Kever
El Paso has been home to a number of folks who ended up in showbiz.
Most quickly moved on.
Take Irene Ryan, the pipe-smokin', rifle-totin' Granny Clampett on "The Beverly Hillbillies."
She was born in El Paso in 1903 in the family home, 412 E. Franklin, while her father was stationed at Fort Bliss. A few months later her family headed west to San Francisco.
She returned as a young actress to work with the Ed Redmond stock company at the Crawford Theater. She was last in El Paso in 1949 - after a successful vaudeville and radio career, before breaking in to movies and television - to do a show with Bob Hope.
Ms. Ryan died in 1973 after a stroke.
I found this interview with Irene Ryan from November 24, 1963.
In the spotlight
By Marjorie Graham
Next Wednesday, plans for a holiday feast at the Jed Clampett mansion will go awry when Elly May makes a pet of the Thanksgiving turkey and Granny mistakes a pair of actors, posing as Indians for a society page picture, for blood-thirsty savages.
You're a hillbilly if you don't know I'm talking about television's "Beverly Hillbillies," top-rated show for over a year, including the summer reruns.
I was a hillbilly not to have realized until recently that Granny, with that deadpan expression and implausible voice that won an Emmy Award nomination last season, is native El Pasoan Irene Ryan.
"I think I was born at home," she said when she called last week. "My father was in the Army, stationed at Ft. Bliss, and not long after that we moved to San Francisco. But I came back, many years later, and played an ingenue in the Ed Redmond stock company at the Crawford Theater. Is it still there?"
It's still there, I told her, and El Paso has spread out.
"Oh, I could tell that last night," she said. "We flew over, going back to the West Coast from Nashville. The last time I was there with Bob Hope ... about 1949. We were doing 60 one-nighters."
The pixie-faced actress was born in El Paso on Oct. 17, enough years ago to have been a headliner in vaudeville. She's belted out songs and swapped wisecracks with Rudy Vallee, Bob Hope, Jack Carson, Danny Thomas and Tennessee Ernie Ford, to name a few.
In show business since she was 13, going from vaudeville to radio, motion pictures, nightclubs and television, in that order, she hit stardom as Granny Clampett, the pipe-smoking rustic in Beverly Hills. The show was the unquestioned hit of the 1962-63 television season. In three weeks on the air, it shot to the top of the audience rating, defeating even Bob Hope in the surveys. No show had been able to do that to a Hope special before.
It has now set a record as the top-rated show for the second consecutive year.
How does Granny account for it?
"It is really Americana," she said. "It is tradition, it is us. The show is very simple, very clean, and I think American audiences are getting pretty sick of the other. People love this hokey comedy."
Although the critics gave Beverly Hillbillies" a sour sendoff and had to swallow their acid adjectives a few weeks later, the public loves Irene Ryan and Buddy Ebsen, Donna Douglas and Max Baer. The show had four Emmy nominations and the judges gave it none.
But in public magazine polls, they won "hands down."
"Nothing will ever take the place of the live stage for an actor, but television's here to stay, and it's about the greatest entertainment medium we've ever known," Miss Ryan opined. "It's when we make these personal appearance tours, as we did last weekend in Tennessee, that we know the impact of this show."
'No, we've had no repercussions from the hill people," she answered. "You know, an awful lot of people talk just that way. Paul Henning, the show's creator, is from Tennessee, and he writes the vernacular into the script. It wasn't hard to pick up."
Are those big clodhoppers she uses for shoes hard to pick up?
"They're part of Granny," she laughed, "and they're comfortable."
And I correctly assumed that the "Beverly Hillbillies" has no elaborate wardrobe budget!
From vaudeville, Miss Ryan stepped into radio, appearing with Meredith Wilson on "Carefree Carnival," which had its debut in San Francisco in 1932. This led to "The Tim and Irene Ryan Show," which she and her husband established as one of the popular programs in the early days of radio
It was a springboard to motion pictures and character roles in "Bonzo Goes To College," "Blackbeard the Pirate," "Ricochet Romance," "Half Angel," "Meet Me After the Show," "Spring Reunion," "Dear Secretary," "Dairy of a Chambermaid," "An Old Fashioned girl," "There's a Girl in My Heart," "The Skipper Surprised His Wife" and others.
On television, she has starred on "Matinee Theatre" and been guest star on "The Dennis Day Show," "Comedy Hour," "All-Star Revue" and "Make Room For Daddy." She played a featured running role in the "Bringing Up Buddy" series, appeared with Ray Bolger in "Where's Raymond?" and starred in a straight dramatic role on "The Whistler."
Miss Ryan has traveled all over the world giving benefit performances, appearing at veteran's hospitals and costarring with Bob Hope in his tours of military installations during World War II and the 1948 Berlin Airlift.
When the interview for the Granny role came up, the casting director told her she was too young. So she went to see Paul Henning, and old friend, and repeated the too-young verdict.
"Look, Paul, do I have to go home and get my grey wig and shawl to convince you?" she argued. "If you get anybody older to play the role, she wont be able to stand the pace. I know what those 7-to-7 schedules are like."
He tested and that was it.
"We're working 12 to 14 hours a day, shooting three days out of the week," Miss Ryan said. "We start in July and end up about the first of May. There are 36 episodes per season."
Much credit for the show's success goes to director Richard Whorf, who has been with them since the outset, she added.
Granny didn't say it in our conversation, but she has remarked to others:
"Both Buddy and I have been close to the top many times, but we never quite made it. Now we're up there and I can assure you it feels mighty good.