On October 13, 2012, actor and TV host Gary Collins passed away of natural causes at the Biloxi Regional Medical Center in Mississippi. The 74-year-old moved to the state in 2011 as it was the birth place of his wife, actress Mary Ann Mobley. The couple would have been wed for 45 years this coming November 24.
His first big splash on the TV screen was as Lt. Richard P. 'Rip' Ripley, the role originally played by Jack Lemmon in the movie version of The Wackiest Ship in the Army. The 1965 series only last a season, however. He had a bit more luck the next year, in 1966 when the Dale Robertson western, Iron Horse, hit the airwaves. He was the number two man in this two-season series.
That was followed by a role in the Andy Griffith film, Angel in My Pocket, the disaster film with Dean Martin, Airport, and the TV movie, Quarantined. In 1972, the tall, blond performer landed the role of psychic Dr. Michael Rhodes in the science fiction series, The Sixth Sense. This series is often shown under the Night Gallery banner.
Many other TV roles followed, including starring in another movie-turned-TV show, Born Free, and the hit mini-series, Roots.
In 1980, he followed the lead of another actor, David Hartman who took on the job of being TV host on Good Morning America, and started hosting Hour Magazine, a pleasant TV talker that lasted through 1988. He also co-hosted The Miss America Pageant, appeared on numerous editions of Circus of the Stars, and appeared regularly on The Hollywood Squares and The Home Show.
In more recent times, Collins had hit some hard roads, having multiple brushes with police, usually for driving under the influence but also including a "dine and dash" charge that was ultimately dismissed. Still seen in infomercials, his acting career had essentially come to a halt. After a few TV appearances in 2000, the only role he had in movie or television after that was in 2009's Dirty Sexy Money TV show.
Though troubled in the last decade of his life, Gary Collins' legacy is a credible career of movie and TV roles that endeared him to many. These performances continue to be viewed somewhere in the world each and every day.