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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!
“I just went out there,” she says, “as a spokesperson for cooperative existence.” Once her year was over, Myerson used her ,000 Miss America scholarship to study music at Columbia University.
Now living in Beverly Hills with Collins (daughter Clancy, 31, is a TV executive), Mobley, 63, wasn’t supposed to be an actress.
The first Miss America with a physical disability, she has mixed emotions about her reign and the controversy she provoked.
“The deaf community criticized me for reading lips instead of signing,” says Whitestone, who lost her hearing in infancy due to a reaction to antibiotics.
“There was this exhilarating outburst.” But not everyone was pleased.
During her reign, Myerson often was met with rejection and discrimination.
Then we look at 54 others—musicians, motivational speakers, a gym teacher, a lawyer, single moms and divorcées, happily marrieds and grandmothers—who seldom make headlines.