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” After her reign Mobley moved to New York City, studied acting with Lee Strasberg—financed by her scholarship money—and launched a showbiz career that would include movies, musical theater and 10 years as cohost (with actor husband Gary Collins, 62) of the Miss America pageant.Now living in Beverly Hills with Collins (daughter Clancy, 31, is a TV executive), Mobley, 63, wasn’t supposed to be an actress.If I win, they’ll feel very, very good, but if I change my name, they won’t even know it’s me.’ ” Indeed, when she became the first Jewish Miss America—and the first to have graduated from college before winning—the auditorium was filled with a large number of Jews who had read about her in the papers.“I remember watching people embrace and throw things, in the air,” she says.Y., the daughter of music teachers Helen, 60, and Milton, 65. Now savoring her second round of fame, she says, “The secret is being open to whatever is being bestowed upon you.” 1959 MARY ANN MOBLEY Her victory was the biggest thing ever to hit Brandon, Miss., where the 5’5″ Mobley grew up.After two hit albums, she won praise onstage in Kiss of the Spider Woman in 1994 and in film, playing opposite Arnold Schwarzenegger in 1996’s Eraser. “The night I won,” she says, “the people came out of their houses and danced in the street because little, short, squat Mary Ann had won Miss America!The stage was too dark for the former Miss Alabama, who is deaf, to read the announcer’s lips, and she didn’t know when to walk across stage.Needing a cue, Whitestone turned to contestants beside her.
“I was more than glad to hand the crown over,” she says.That marriage ended in divorce, as did a second, to tax attorney Arnold Grant.Stints on TV game shows The Big Payoff and I’ve Got a Secret in the 1950s and ’60s and posts in New York City government in the ’70s and ’80s kept her a popular public figure.1984 VANESSA WILLIAMS Before she became the first dethroned Miss America, Williams, 37, was the first African-American Miss America. In some I states, she told MSNBC’s Headliners and Legends, “there were armed guards outside my motel room.” The negative attention only became worse 10 months into her reign, when she was forced to step down after racy nude photographs of her ran in Penthouse.“Frightened, overwhelmed and in shock,” as she told ENTERTAINMENT “WEEKLY, she found comfort with her publicist-turned-manager Ramon Hervey, with whom she had three children before they divorced in 1997.
While visiting a veteran’s hospital in Atlantic City, she says, the mother of a soldier injured in World War II told her, “I don’t want you to come in here.