Monday, May 7, 2012

In Just No Time At All...

There's been a persistent rumor that Irene Ryan, best known as Granny on "The Beverly Hillbillies", died onstage in the middle of a Broadway performance of "Pippin". This is untrue. From various sources on the Internet, including John Rubinstein (Pippin himself) and Walter Willison (Rubinstein's standby), I've pieced together a timeline of what really happened:

10/17/72 — Ryan turns 70.
10/23/72 — Pippin opens on Broadway.
3/10/73 — Ryan has a stroke onstage during the Saturday matinee, undetected by the audience. She completes this performance, her last, and flies home to Los Angeles for treatment.
3/25/73 — Ryan watches the Tony Awards broadcast from a hospital in Los Angeles. (She was nominated, but lost.)
4/26/73 — Ryan dies.

So she was in "Pippin" on Broadway for less than five months before leaving the show, but lived for almost another seven weeks. Not as dramatic a story as "dying onstage", but it has the virtue of being true!

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