Thirty-two years before winning an Emmy Award, Gary Collins was a DeMolay.
Collins was raised a few miles from Hollywood. After graduating from Venice High School, he attended Santa Monica City College and finished as an accounting major, then enlisted in the Army. While in uniform, Collins discovered acting, winning the Best Actor award at the International Drama Festival of 1959 in Paris for his starring role in The Rainmaker. When he was honorably discharged from the Army after two years, he opted to stay in Europe to make his motion picture debut in Cleopatra, starring Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor. His next role was in Darryl F. Zanuck's The Longest Day, followed by a wave of European films. In New York, Collins made his Broadway debut in Tennessee Williams' The Milk Train Doesn't Stop Here Anymore.
In 1965, Collins landed his first television series with a starring role in "The Wackiest Ship in the Army," which he played opposite Jack Warden. He also headlined "The Sixth Sense," "Born Free," and "The Iron Horse." While filming an episode of "The Iron Horse," Collins met Mary Ann Mobley, former Miss America. They married in 1967 and have one daughter, Mary Clancy.
Collins hosted a daily informational series "Hour Magazine" from 1980 until its cancellation in 1989. It is for his role in that talk show that he won his 1984 Emmy Award for Outstanding Host of a Talk Show/Information Series. In 1985, Collins was honored with his name on a star on the world-renowned Hollywood Walk of Fame. For nine years, Collins hosted the Miss America Pageant. Collins and his wife have been involved with the March of Dimes since the 1980s and they are active volunteers in relief organizations to end world hunger.
Collins had guest starred in numerous television series including Dharma and Greg and Friends. His movie career continued with the award-winning mini-series Roots, and appearances in Airport, Houston We've Got a Problem, Hangar 18, and a feature in Beautiful, starring Minnie Driver.
Collins was initiated into Triangle Chapter DeMolay in Venice, California, in 1952. Collins was a member of the first class to be inducted into the DeMolay Hall of Fame on November 13, 1986.
"Needless to say, DeMolay had a profound effect on me. It arrived at a critical point in my life. For at fourteen, the issues of fraternity, faith, and trust were insignificant. The example of Jacques DeMolay's courage helped me to see that there was another dimension to one's life and that the attempt to reach a worthy goal could give so much more meaning to one's life. Of course, the opportunity to go through the chairs was an honor and certainly nurtured whatever leadership qualities I might possess today."