We know her as Granny Clampett, the feisty and wise matriarch of “The Beverly Hillbillies.” The character’s name was really Daisy Moses, and I assume she was the widowed Jed Clampett’s mother-in-law. Granny was played by veteran radio comedienne Irene Ryan, who died in 1973.
Granny wore long calico dresses and aprons. She glared at the troubling world over a pair of wire-rimmed spectacles. She wore boots, and when she went to bed, she wore a nightcap.
She could cook possum stew and fire up a batch of moonshine or spring tonic. She reigned over the kitchenlike an empress holding court. She took no sass from no young’uns.
I want to be like Granny. And I seem to be going in that direction. What I loved about Granny was that she knew things – how to cook, how to sew, how to make herbal medicines and heal wounds.
And I wonder if you remember this episode:
Granny is churning butter while Pearl does some spring cleaning. (Pearl was “cousin” somehow; and appeared irregularly to visit her son, Jethro Bodine, who lived with the Clampetts.)
But these are also Granny’s household items:
Yes, that is a floor loom – I don’t recall why it is out in the driveway for this episode. Granny must have been working on some rugs or dish towels while enjoying the California sunshine.
I’m not sure what Ellie Mae is doing because she certainly isn’t spinning – it looks like a flax wheel (there’s a distaff) but she doesn’t have any fibre. This scene is one of the many where Jethro and Ellie Mae wonder where the music is coming from – it’s the door bell. Unsophisticated mountaineers, they have never heard of a door bell! Maybe back in Hogjowl Tennessee vistors just yodel from the front porch. (There were times that the “hillbilly” jokes were a little lame.) Ellie Mae will explain to the antiques collector that the wheel, in fact, belongs to Granny. The whole gist of the “comedy” in this episode is that someone wants to collect Granny’s everyday household tools as decorative antiques.
While the hillbilly premise made for some rather pretentious comedy (the doorbell gag, the billiards table used as a dining table, Jed continuing to drive the old Model A truck) the final say would be that the rhubarbs from the Ozarks were, in many ways, smarter and more savvy than the big city bankers and Hollywood stars. I honestly don’t understand why the Clampetts went to Beverly Hills – maybe it was explained in an early episode – but I would think that if hill people did come into a lot of money, they were more likely to move to Nashville or Mobile. I suppose there isn’t any logical explanation for 1960s comedy, though.
But the Clampetts made a big impression on America. And I’ve grown up to be Granny rather than Ellie Mae.