Mary Ann Mobley, the first Miss Mississippi crowned Miss America, died at her home in Beverly Hills, California Tuesday after a battle with breast cancer at the age of 75, Ole Miss has confirmed.
Mobley, who grew up in Brandon, was crowned Miss America in 1959.
Sam Haskell, chairman of the board and CEO of the Miss America Organization issued a statement:
"When I was a little boy growing up in Mississippi, there were two Mississippi stars who I idolized...one was Elvis Presley and the other was Mississippi's first Miss America Mary Ann Mobley. She was at the hospital when my children were born. She performed in many of my charitable concerts to raise money in Mississippi for needed educational funds as well as Hurricane Katrina victims. We shared a love for our Alma Mater Ole Miss, and we shared many mutual friends in our beloved home state of Mississippi. She challenged me, she loved me, and she made me laugh. I shall miss her."
Mobley graduated from Ole Miss in 1958 and was the university's first Carrier Scholar and later became the first woman voted into the Alumni Hall of Fame.
After her reign as Miss America 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.
MOBLEY, Mary Ann
Born: 2/17/1939, Biloxi, Mississippi, U.S.A.
Died: 12/9/2014, Beverly Hills, California, U.S.A.
Mary Ann Mobley’s western – actress:
The Virginian (TV) – 1967 (Ellie Willard)
Iron Horse (TV) – 1967 (Susan Carter)
The Legend of Custer (TV) – 1968 (Ann Landry)
The Legend of Custer – 1968 (Ann Landry)