Mary Ann Mobley Dies: Miss America Turned Actress Loses Battle With Breast Cancer

Mary Ann Mobley, the first Miss America from Mississippi, has died. After a lengthy second battle with breast cancer, she passed away at her home in Beverly Hills, California, on Tuesday.

Mary Ann Mobley was 75 years old.

According to the Hollywood Reporter, the native of Mississippi starred opposite Elvis Presley in two films in 1965 and was also a regular on television. Her big break on the small screen came in a 1963 episode of Burke’s Law from Aaron Spelling.

She attended the University of Mississippi and won the Miss America pageant in 1959. She studied acting with Lee Strasberg and ended up appearing in a Los Angeles production of Guys and Dolls. Mobley soon after signed a five-year contract with MGM.

The Golden Globes named her Most Promising Newcomer in 1965, and shared the award with Celia Milius and Miz Farrow.

The Miss America Organization issued a statement following the announcement of Mary Ann Mobley’s passing.

“Our beloved Miss America, Mary Ann Mobley, passed away quietly this morning, 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…”

“The Miss America Organization extends its heartfelt sympathies to Mary Ann’s daughter, Clancy Collins-White – an executive at Warner Bros. Television in Los Angeles, and her extended family during this time of sorrow. We will keep our Miss America Mary Ann Mobley alive in our hearts, and we will keep her family in our thoughts and our prayers.”

UPI went on to report that Mobeley ended up appearing in numerous big-name television shows such as Designing Women, The Love Boat, and Perry Mason. Her celebrity lifestyle went into her long-term marriage, as well, as she was married to the late actor Gary Collins.

Sam Haskill, the Chairman of the Board and CEO of the Miss America Organization, had a 40-year friendship with Mary Ann Mobley. He released a statement detailing how much of an impact she had made in his life.

“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!”

Once news of Mary Ann Mobley’s death began passing through the Miss America circuit, the Internet, and the world, many began to offer their condolences. She was a pioneer for many and an inspiration to even more. The former Miss America did a lot in her life, but it still ended too soon.

[Image via Clarion Ledger]