Actress, humanitarian and former Miss America, Mary Ann Mobley Collins, has died at age 77 from complications with breast cancer.
According to a release sent out by Collins’ family, she was a Golden Globe winner who starred opposite Elvis Presley, appeared in numerous TV shows, sang on Broadway and dedicated much of her life to documenting the plights of children in war-torn nations as a filmmaker in places like Cambodia, Ethiopia, Somalia and the Sudan.
Born in Biloxi, Mississippi, Collins was crowned the state’s first Miss America in 1959.
She began her show business career on Broadway, starring in Nowhere to Go But Up, Guys and Dolls, The King and I, Oklahoma! and numerous other productions. Her work on the musical stage earned her a spot in the Mississippi Musicians Hall of Fame in 2002.
She also appeared on TV shows like Diff’rent Strokes, Fantasy Island, The Love Boat, Falcon Crest and Hearts Afire and made hundreds of guest appearances on other shows.
Collins was the first woman ever to be inducted into the University of Mississippi Alumni Hall of Fame. She was honored alongside William Faulkner, a friend from her years at Ole Miss.
In 1967, Collins married TV talk show host, Gary Collins. The couple traveled the world, devoting their time and resources to relief organizations and causes fighting to end world hunger. Collins served as a board member for the March of Dimes, the National Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation, and the National Council on Disability. She was an advocate for the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, as well as Childhelp, which honored her with its 1999 Woman of the World Award.
Amid all of her humanitarian work, Collins never tired of show business, and in recent years, she starred in the musical, Senior Class, at the Annenberg Theater in Palm Springs and debuted her own cabaret show.
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