Mississippi’s first Miss America dies
Published 10:52 am Wednesday, December 10, 2014
Mary Ann Mobley, the first Miss Mississippi to become Miss America died at her home in Beverly Hills, Calif. Tuesday after a battle with breast cancer. She was 75.
Mobley was crowned Miss Mississippi in 1958, the first year for Vicksburg to host the state
pageant before going on to win the national title.
“She mesmerized everybody,” Dr. Briggs Hopson Jr. said. “Everything she entered she won.”
Hopson, who served as the CEO and Chairman of the Miss Mississippi Pageant Corporation board, said he started at Ole Miss the same year as Mobley.
“There were glowing reports that she was the most beautiful woman at Ole Miss,” he said.
“I remember so well when she was Miss Mississippi,” Pat Hopson said. “She had that caring effervescent personality. She talked all the time and people wanted to listen.”
Pat also attended the University of Mississippi the same time Mobley was in school.
“I think she was one of the best Miss Americas,” she said. “She even contributed afterward, always coming back to Mississippi.”
Pat, who served for many years as the executive producer for the Miss Mississippi Pageant, said the last time Mobley was in Vicksburg was when she helped emcee during the 50th anniversary of the pageant in 1984.
“She will be missed as a Miss Mississippi,” Pat said. “She will be missed as a Miss America, but also missed as a good friend.”
Following her reign as Miss America, Mobley went on to pursue a career in film and television including appearances on “Perry Mason,” “Love American Style,” “Fantasy Island,” “Different Strokes” and “Designing Women.”
She also starred in “Harum Scarum” alongside Elvis Presley.
Mobley was awarded a Golden Globe in 1965 as New Star of the Year. She was active in many charitable causes, and in 1966 was awarded the Outstanding Young Woman of the Year Award by Lady Bird Johnson.
Mobley was born Feb 17, 1939 in Biloxi. She was married to film and television star Gary Collins, and the couple had one daughter, Mary Clancy Collins White.