Gary Collins spent many years trying to break through as a leading man on prime-time TV before finally becoming a talk show host. Though it may have been unexpected, the role fit him well: His syndicated talk show "Hour Magazine" ran from 1980 to 1988 and won him a Daytime Emmy for outstanding host of a talk or service series. Collins also spent many years in the '80s hosting the Miss America pageant, and he married former Miss America Mary Ann Mobley.
His attempts to become a prime-time series lead encompassed such quickly forgotten series as "The Wackiest Ship in the Navy," "The Iron Horse" and "The Sixth Sense," a sort of proto-"X-Files," in which Collins' character was a researcher of paranormal phenomena. Perhaps most notably, Collins starred in the TV remake of "Born Free," which ran for 13 episodes in 1974. The series, filmed on location in East Africa, was a flop, despite being based on a popular movie.
But it was as a host (of both the pageant and the talk show) that Collins made his mark. "Hour Magazine" spent much of the '80s soothing viewers with talk of ways they could make their lives better and ways to improve their health. Collins was the avuncular man at the center of the show, transitioning easily from a celebrity interview to a more serious story, and the series was a bridge between more traditional talk shows and news magazines. Most notably, Collins spent a whole week speaking with Nancy Reagan about drug abuse in 1984.
Collins died Oct. 13, 2012 at Biloxi Regional Medical Center, in Biloxi, Miss. He was 74.