For millions of American's in the 1960's, there was one television character that only needed one name (and it wasn't even really a name!).

Granny.

That's it.  Granny.  When you mentioned that one word in relation to television, everyone....everyone...knew who you meant and what you were talking about.

The Beverly Hillbillies.

Televisions biggest hit in the 1960's, each week we followed the exploits and hilarious adventures of the Clampett Clan as they figured out (or rather, tried to figure out) how to live in the high society and moneyed world of Beverly Hills, California.

While Jed was the head of the family, it was Granny that really ran the show... or at least thought she did.

From her Rheumitiz medicine to the vittles to the cee-ment pond to... well, almost everything, it was Granny who put that special mountain spin on anything that came into the world of the Beverly Hillbillies.

So, who was Granny?  And whatever happened to this most loved television icon?

The lady that we all came to adore as 'Granny' was actress Irene Ryan.  And Irene Ryan was a lot more than Granny, a lot more!

This talented actress found success in vaudeville, radio, film, television and Broadway.

Born in El Paso, Texas in 1902, performing in Vaudeville with her husband by the age of 20, Irene went on to a multi-faceted career that any entertainer would envy.   But of course, it was 'The Beverly Hillbillies' that brought her into the homes of American's from coast to coast.

The weekly program ran from 1962-1971.  On a personal note, it was one of my Mom and Dad's all time favorite programs.  I can remember each week sitting with a bowl of popcorn on the floor of our living room and listening to the laughter of my parents.  It was something that was repeated endlessly around the country.

Following the end of the Hillbillies, Irene worked on Broadway in 1972 in 'Pippin'. In fact, she was nominated for a Tony Award for her work on stage.

In was during a performance that Irene Ryan suffered a stroke.  She went back to her home in California and passed away April 26, 1973 at the age of 70.

For those of us of a 'certain age', if we were to name out Top 10 TV character's of all time, I'll bet Granny would be somewhere on that list.