Mary Ann Mobley, who segued into a successful TV and film acting career after her reign as Miss America 1959, died Monday after a battle with breast cancer. She was 75.
Mobley, a Mississippi native, launched her acting career on Broadway in the musical Nowhere To Go But Up after serving her year as Miss America 1959. She went on to co-star in Guys And Dolls, a role that led to her first film contract and starring roles opposite fellow Mississipian Elvis Presley in Girl Happy and Harum Scarum at MGM.
Her first television appearances came on Burke’s Law (1963-1965), General Hospital, and Perry Mason. She also appeared on such shows as Love, American Style, The Love Boat, Designing Women and Fantasy Island. She had a recurring role as Maggie McKinney Drummond on Diff’rent Strokes in the final season, having taken over the role from Dixie Carter. She also appeared on Match Game ’76 as one of the celebrity panelists. Her final television appearance came in 1994 on Hardball. Mobley’s other film credits include Get Yourself A College Girl (1964), Girl Happy (1965), Three On A Couch (1966) and For Singles Only (1968).
She also became a filmmaker, producing documentaries in third-world countries including Cambodia, Ethiopia, Mozambique, Somalia, Kenya, Zimbabwe and the Sudan, focused on the plight of homeless and starving children.
Mobley was married to the late actor and TV host Gary Collins. He died in 2012.