TV thesp was former host of Miss America Pageant

Gary Collins, an actor, television show host and former master of ceremonies for the Miss America Pageant, died of natural causes Saturday in Biloxi, Miss., where he was a longtime resident. He was 74.

During the 1980s, Collins hosted the Miss America pageant and the television shows “Hour Magazine” — for which he won a Daytime Emmy in 1983 — and “The Home Show.”

As an actor, he appeared in numerous movies and was a fixture on television in the 1960s and 1970s, playing a variety of guest roles in comedies and dramas including “Perry Mason,” ”The Love Boat” and “Ironside,” among others. He also starred in regular series including “The Wackiest Ship in the Army” and “The Iron Horse” in the 1960s and “The Sixth Sense” in the 1970s.

He kept acting for decades, appearing as late as 2009 in an episode of the TV show “Dirty Sexy Money.”

Collins was married to former Miss America and Mississippi native Mary Ann Mobley.

The handsome Collins was an amiable on-air personality, but his public image suffered at times because of run-ins with the law.

In 2009, he pleaded guilty in Santa Barbara, Calif., to misdemeanor driving under the influence — his third offense. In 2010, he was fined $500 in Jackson, Miss., for leaving the scene of a traffic accident.

Survivors include daughter Clancy Collins White, senior VP of drama development at Warner Bros. TV.

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