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Mary Ann Mobley, first Miss America from Mississippi, dies

By Danielle Haynes
TV Show "Hour Magazine" host Gary Collins and former Miss America Mary Ann Mobley pose on Feb. 10, 1988, in the same clothing they were married in 20 years prior. Mobley died Tuesday of breast cancer. File photo by Glenn Waggner/UPI.
TV Show "Hour Magazine" host Gary Collins and former Miss America Mary Ann Mobley pose on Feb. 10, 1988, in the same clothing they were married in 20 years prior. Mobley died Tuesday of breast cancer. File photo by Glenn Waggner/UPI. | License Photo

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif., Dec. 9 (UPI) -- Mary Ann Mobley, the first Miss America from Mississippi, died Tuesday at her home in Beverly Hills, Calif., the University of Mississippi, her alma mater, said. She was 75.

Mobley died after her second battle with breast cancer, the school said.

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The beauty pageant competitor was the first Miss Mississippi crowned Miss America in 1959, one year after she graduated from the so-called Ole Miss. She was the first woman voted into the school's Alumni Hall of Fame.

After her year-long reign as Miss America, she became an actress in film, television and on Broadway, appearing opposite fellow Mississippian Elvis Presley in Girl Happy and Harum Scarum. On television she had roles in "Perry Mason," "The Love Boat," "Love," "American Style" and "Designing Women."

Mobley was also a documentary filmmaker, highlighting poverty-stricken children across the globe.

She was married to late actor Gary Collins.

"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," Chairman of the Board and CEO of the Miss America Organization Sam Haskell said in a statement.

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