There is something about the world of theater and acting, which gives us a perspective on age; and our ability to transcend through the magic of make believe. That’s the wonder of age! We are given the opportunity to view ourselves and our physical evolution through time’s fruition! Acting gives us that ability to maneuver through the complexities of age. Its wonderful, is it not? Interesting how certain actors and actresses are phenomenal in their ability to transform out of certain stereotypes connected to age and wisdom. In turn, they give us the ability to question our own limited perceptions as it relates to growing older. Phenomenal, is it not?
Certain television shows and characters never leave our psyche. In fact, they remind us of the joys of being able to connect with ourselves through the magic of time. There is nothing fearful about it. In fact, with certain characters, there is nothing frightening in “getting old.” Unfortunately, we live in a society, where “getting old” is riddled with fear and the devaluing of a human being’s existence. Not only is it painful, but it causes society to miss out on the wealth of knowledge, which could be learned and used for the betterment of society. Nevertheless, there are others, there is the special sector of society, which continues to appreciate older television characters, who gave us hope and humor in the beauty of age!
From 1961-1971, legendary film and broadway actress, Irene Ryan gave us the wise crackin,’ outspoken, and comedic nature of “Granny” on the iconic television show, The Beverly Hillbillies. We could even argue that she was one of the most memorable, if not the most memorable, character on the show. “Granny” was the matriarch, who kept things together. Yet, she was not the stereotypical depiction of a “grandmother;” in whatever meaning that entails. Active and willing to jump on the next adventure, available in sight. “Granny” was not ashamed of her country upbringing, and she made sure to keep it with her, once she decided to enter the luxury, and high-class life of Beverly Hills. She made it very clear, that no matter how high she got up in society, she was still grounded in her country roots. That would not change. Quite frankly, I think its why audiences loved her.
“Granny” and her clan, brought humanity into the world of riches. They brought Earthly vibes into a spacing, which is socially designed for a certain few. Unfortunately, realness is not always placed within every environment. Some of the most lavish environments harbor many of the most lifeless auras. Now, that’s real. Yet, what Granny and her Hillbilly clan brought with them was a sense of naturalness. Many people could not relate to living in Beverly Hills. However, what they could relate to was the character of “Granny.” Granny was a natural woman. Issues of the Clampetts could be found among many families. It is almost as if Granny and her clan were bringing stories of regular folk, into the world of the elite. Giving the rich and famous a taste of what it means to be outside of their high gates and secluded areas; and having imagery of regular folk within their very midst.
If we return to the very first episode of The Beverly Hillbillies, and the movements of The Clampetts into their new home, we are poised to observe “Granny’s” actions and behaviors. Moving into her new, upscale mansion, you can tell that “Granny” was clearly unimpressed. She did not light up with excitement in moving into this unfamiliar residency; neither was Uncle Jay. On the contrary, what “Granny” did was walk through her new residence with speculation. In her keen assessment, as only “Granny” knew how to do, she was observing her Beverly Hills home, and how it could be adjusted to accommodate her lifestyle. She did not bend in conformation to this new setting. That’s for sure! In Beverly Hills, “Granny’s” country mannerisms reigned Supreme. No one! Not the banker, Ms. Hathaway, or any high-profile, upper-class snob, who felt country livin’ was a crime. Not at all! In fact, if you ever watch the first episode of the Beverly HillBillies, you notice that it is Ms. Hathaway-assistant to the banker, who ends up being forced to conform to the ways of the The Clampetts.
What was interesting concerning Irene Ryan’s performance of “Granny” is that she had masterfully crafted her character to be confident as a “country bumpkin” could. Translation: She was an Earthly woman; having access to a wealth of knowledge, which one cannot find among many “educated,” and elite, people. “Granny” had that capacity to bring the realness, or natural element into rigid spaces, which limits human creativity. She is a master of space and time. It was evident that the first thing she was going to do, once moving into her new home, was to reform its spacing into an aura, not present in Beverly Hills. In many regards, “Granny” was a social activist, and mental wellness expert. Mental well-being came in the form of interior decoration and simple household management. A so-called “uneducated, country” woman, who had a wealth of knowledge to teach her audience.
Irene Ryan gave US media a real treasure, when she performed the role of “Granny.” It is a celebrated television series, which lasted from 1962-1971. We were given the riches of one performance, in that grandmother wisdom, and humor to kick in. There are great things to consider, when it comes to the different episodes, and those hidden teaching lessons “Granny” gave us. It was not in the traditional way. On the contrary, it was in a way, where you had to go into silent mode, for things to catch on. “Granny” was quick. That, alone, was enough to shatter any demeaning stereotypes about elder populations, within our communities. Furthermore, she was also a multitasker. She could spot the tiniest details, often gone missing by most people. Yes! That included the “yungins.” Don’t forget that! A pivotal moment in comprehending how age does not mean one is of less value. In actuality, it translates that one has a wealth of treasure to share.
On another note, through the eyes of the Clampetts, viewers came to understand that wealth does not always define quality. The country ways of Granny and the Clampetts brought interesting and entertaining coloring to Beverly Hills. Through her country windows, people were encouraged to relax, chill, and take life with ease. On another note, the beauty of the Beverly Hillbillies, is how they demonstrated that luxury should make family closer. It should make humanity more caring to each other. Having more should be comprehended for people using luxury in makingstronger human connections. In the world of The Clampetts, more allows humanity to use wealth for creativity in this healing journey. When you gain more, there is something to share! Furthermore, the money and wealth should provide people with opportunities in discovering myriad journeys, when intertwining human relations. Such is one of the underlying messages of The Beverly HillBillies. And our beloved, “Granny” is leading the charge. Too often wealth causes the break-up of friendships, families, and the overall destruction of humanity. It shouldn’t be that way. Unfortunately, it is, and it highlights humanity, in its current state. We are truly morally, emotionally, and humanly bankrupt. That doesn’t mean we can’t get back on track to a better place.
To much credit to the late Irene Ryan, there are other great accomplishments to her career, besides this iconic, television performance. Not only was she successful on television, but she had expansions of her career in film, radio, vaudeville, and Broadway. She was an actress, a comedian, and a gifted singer. There is so much more to the traditional image, we are used to seeing her perform. Furthermore, that’s what makes her a gifted treasure for the world of Hollywood Her/History. The versatility, and comfort with herself, is what made her a very fascinating person. She wasn’t the “traditional” Hollywood beauty; whatever that may be. Nevertheless, she was part of that specific group of Hollywood actresses, who shook up the Hollywood scene, in her own eccentric way. Showing there was another way for a woman to perform, she carried her tune and acting credentials to the beat of her own image. And, it worked! Legends have that ability to paint spaces and places into a way, that is suitable to their own liking. Some are not as known as others. That’s ok!
Irene Ryan had a way about her, unheard of for the mainstream! It worked for her. The dynamics in how she played her characters, were iconic. Her role as, “Granny,” on The Beverly Hillbillies is inter-generational. The genius in how Irene Ryan played the role is that she made “Granny,” appealing to the old, and funny to the young. She truly crossed the barriers of age! And my Darlings, that is a wellness in its own right! So, while we reflect on “Granny,” celebrating what she brought to television, let us remember to grasp the beauties, in colorful wisdom. She is the epitome of being a country girl in a high-class world; and not allowing her new lifestyle to change her, or her very foundation (and centering) to that Earthly wisdom! It was the country, that centered her. From the Earth she came from, to the Earth she would return. So, why not experiment with it in every arena; even spaces, where it was not “proper” to do so. Her gift to the fabulous and rich, reminded viewers, that wealth should celebrate the gentility of the human Spirit. Furthermore, it would bridge a new gap into the power of Earth’s riches, and its ability to empower spiritual wellness. If you did not learn anything else, remember that! Just know that being from the country, carries its own decor, just with the lavishness, of a HillyBilly twist!