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1959

Mary Ann Mobley
Brandon, Mississippi

On September 6, 1958, Mary Ann made history in Atlantic City as she was crowned the first Miss America from Mississippi. Her talent performance was "Un Bel Di" by Puccini and as she walked that famed runway, she immediately captured the hearts of America.

Following her year of service as Miss America, Mary Ann made her Broadway debut in the musical, Nowhere To Go But Up. It proved to be a great success for the launch of her theatrical career; however it was a co-staring role with Hugh O'Brien and Betty Grable in a production of Guys and Dolls that opened the door for her first motion picture contract. She starred opposite another Mississippian, Elvis Presley, in Girl Happy and Harum Scarum at MGM. During that time, she was nominated by the American Cinema Editors for "Best Performance by an Actress in a U.S. Film Debut". The United Theater Owners of America named her one of the "Top Ten Stars of Tomorrow". The Motion Picture Herald Fame Award recognized her as one of the "Box Office Stars of Tomorrow" and the Hollywood Foreign Press presented her with a Golden Globe Award as the "International Female Star of Tomorrow."

Mary Ann also appeared on many hit television series including, Diff'rent Strokes and Falcon Crest. She was also a guest star in more than one hundred comedy and dramatic television series. One of her most treasured roles was in the American television premiere of Ingmar Bergman's The Lie with George Segal. Mary Ann returned many times to the Miss America stage and co-hosted the Miss America 1989 telecast with her late husband Gary Collins.

She became a filmmaker, producing documentaries in third-world countries including Cambodia, Ethiopia, Mozambique, Somalia, Kenya, Zimbabwe and the Sudan where she worked on documentaries on the plight of millions of children who are helpless victims of war and deprivation. She was a part of the first American TV film team to enter communist Cambodia. "The trip was one of the most rewarding and challenging experiences of my life" she once stated. She recently filmed Children Running Out Of Time on the work of the medical personnel in these countries. While living in Kenya during the filming of the TV series Born Free, she saw first-hand the devastation and felt a personal commitment to helping the underprivileged of the poor nations of the world.

Mary Ann served with the March of Dimes for the past twenty-five years and also served as the National Chairman of the Mother's March Against Birth Defects and was a board member of The National Crohn's and Colitis Foundation, and The Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation. By Presidential appointment she was named to the National Council on Disability. Mary Ann was a member of SHARE, Inc., a Los Angeles-based women's organization supporting the Exceptional Children's Foundation for the Mentally Retarded. In Mississippi, she raised funds for the Willowood Foundation which provides homes for young adults with mental and physical learning disabilities. One of the homes is called the Mary Ann Mobley/Gary Collins Group Home. She was most proud of The Mary Ann Mobley Pediatric Wing at the Rankin General Hospital in her hometown of Brandon, Mississippi.

Miss America 1959 Mary Ann Mobley passed away on December 9, 2014 in Beverly Hills, California, surrounded by her loved ones. Mary Ann will always be remembered for her beauty, grace, her wonderful personality and her giving heart that touched so many.

 

Mary Ann Mobley, Miss America 1959

Mary Ann Mobley, Miss America 1959

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