Gary Collins: Miss America Pageant host & ‘Airport’ actor dead at 74
Gary Collins – best known in the United States as a television/Miss America Pageant host; elsewhere, as an actor in dozens of TV series – died earlier today of “natural causes” in Biloxi, Mississippi. Collins was 74.
Born in the Los Angeles suburb of Venice on April 30, 1938, Collins began his show business career while still serving in the U.S. Army. His film career didn’t go very far: a mere ten movies over the course of four decades. The most notable among those was George Seaton’s Airport (1970), an all-star blockbuster and Best Picture Oscar nominee in which Collins had a small role.
Gary Collins television work
On the other hand, Gary Collins thrived on television. He had recurring roles in The Wackiest Ship in the Army and Iron Horse in the mid-’60s, and in The Sixth Sense and Born Free in the ’70s. He also guested in dozens of TV series, among them The Six Million Dollar Man, The Bionic Woman, JAG, and, more recently, Dirty Sexy Money. Collins’ TV movies include The Night They Took Miss Beautiful, The Kid from Left Field, and Jacqueline Susann’s Valley of the Dolls.
Since 1967, Gary Collins was married to Biloxi-born actress and former Miss America Mary Ann Mobley (the TV series Diff’rent Strokes, Falcon Crest). The couple had recently separated.
In recent years, Collins had been involved in drunken-driving car accidents, and last year he was arrested for failing to pay his bill at a Biloxi food establishment.