Mary Ann Mobley, Mississippi's First Miss America, Dies of Breast Cancer At 77

Pam WrightLife

Share this Post

Mary Ann Mobley, who became Mississippi's first Miss America and went on to become a successful actress, died of breast cancer Tuesday at her home in Beverly Hills. She was 77.

The Mississippi native, who attended the University of Mississippi, became the state's first Miss America when she was crowned in 1959.

“The University of Mississippi family is saddened by the passing of Mary Ann Mobley Collins,” said a statement released by Ole Miss, where she was the first woman to be voted into the university's Alumni Hall of Fame.

A successful acting career followed in the theater, where she starred in musicals like Guys and Dolls and The King and I, and in film, including movies opposite Elvis Presley in Harum Scarum and Girl Happy.

Mobley had a very successful run on television as well, and seemed to be everywhere during the 70s. She was a regular on Circus with the Stars and appeared in many series like Fantasy Island, Love Boat and Falcon Crest.

Mobley married actor/talk show host Gary Collins in 1967, and the couple later became well-respected philanthropists. They spent their later years traveling the world with various relief organizations to end world hunger. Collins died in 2012.

Mobley is survived by daughters Clancy Collins White and Melissa Collins, son Guy William Collins, sister Sandra Young, and two grandsons, Garrett and Gaston Collins.

Services for Mobley will be held Dec. 15 in Jackson, Mississippi.

Pam Wright