Host of 'Hour Magazine' TV show
Gary Collins, 74, an actor who was the host of the syndicated TV show "Hour Magazine" and a former master of ceremonies for the Miss America Pageant, died early Saturday in Biloxi, Miss. Collins died of natural causes soon after arriving at Biloxi Regional Medical Center, Harrison County Coroner Gary Hargrove told the Associated Press.
In 2011 Collins moved to Mississippi, the home state of his wife, Mary Ann Mobley, who was Miss America 1959 before embarking on an acting career.
From 1980 to 1988, Collins served as host of the daytime TV talk show "Hour Magazine," a gentler version of the genre that avoided some of the controversial topics tackled by Phil Donahue, Geraldo Rivera and other programs.
"It seems that the viewing public and producers of those programs have tapped into this insatiable desire for stronger formats, stronger issues, stronger confrontations, a stronger examination of subject matter and reality subject matter. And that was never 'Hour Magazine,' " Collins told The Times in 1989 soon after the show was canceled.
Describing himself as "inquisitive, sensitive, caring, likable, non-confrontational," Collins added, "I don't think all television has to be on that hard edge."
Collins had been emcee of the Miss America Pageant in the 1980s and hosted other televised variety programs.
Born April 30, 1938, in Venice, Collins enrolled in Santa Monica City College before joining the Army. He became an announcer and disc jockey for Armed Forces Radio and began acting. After his military service ended he landed a starring role in the 1965 sitcom "The Wackiest Ship in the Army" and followed with regular roles in the TV series "Iron Horse," "The Sixth Sense" and "Born Free." He also had a string of guest star appearances in popular prime-time programs.
Best known as a handsome and amiable on-air personality, he saw his public image suffer at times because of run-ins with the law.
In 2009, he pleaded guilty in Santa Barbara to misdemeanor driving under the influence — his third offense. In 2010, he was fined for leaving the scene of a traffic accident in Mississippi. Last year, a judge dismissed charges against Collins for allegedly leaving a Biloxi restaurant without paying his bill. Dismissal came after a restaurant employee asked to withdraw his complaint.