OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi family is saddened by the passing of Mary Ann Mobley Collins, the first Mississippian to be crowned Miss America, an acclaimed actress and filmmaker, and a 1958 graduate of Ole Miss. A native of Brandon, she was the university’s first Carrier Scholar and later became the first woman voted into the Alumni Hall of Fame. While at Ole Miss, she was a majorette and a member of Chi Omega Sorority.
After her reign ended, she went on become one of the most successful Miss Americas on Broadway, film and television. She co-starred in two Elvis Presley movies, “Girl Happy” and “Harum Scarum,” and appeared on dozens of popular television series from the 1960s to the ’90s, including “Perry Mason,” “The Love Boat,” “Love, American Style,” “Diff’rent Strokes” and “Designing Women.” She also built a respected career as a documentary filmmaker, visiting Cambodia, Ethiopia, Mozambique, Somalia, Kenya, Zimbabwe and the Sudan to produce films on the plight of homeless and starving children. She was actively involved in raising money and awareness for both the March of Dimes and the United Cerebral Palsy Association.
She was married to the late Gary Collins, whom she met on the set of “Three on a Couch,” the 1966 comedy she made with Jerry Lewis. Collins died in 2012 after they moved from Hollywood to Biloxi.