In today’s world sports fans can hardly turn on a sporting event without seeing a female either on the sidelines, in the pits, or in the broadcast booth; but there was a time when former Miss America Phyllis George was the only female face on the air.
The sportscasting pioneer died May 14, 2020 in Lexington, Kentucky as a result of a long battle with a blood disorder.
The former First Lady of Kentucky and Miss Texas was crowned Miss America in 1971. And in 1975, she broke the gender line in broadcasting; along with Jane Chastain, when she joined Brent Musburger and Irv Cross for the “NFL Today” on CBS despite not knowing anything about the sport. Via Twitter, Brent Musburger said, “Phyllis didn’t receive nearly enough credit for opening the sports broadcasting door for the dozens of talented women who took her lead and soared.”
Ex-husband and former Governor of Kentucky John Y. Brown spoke on Plyllis saying, “Phyllis was a great asset to Kentucky. We had a great partnership. I think we enjoyed every single day.”
Along with her appearances on “The Kraft Music Hall”, “The New Candid Camera”, “The Mike Douglas Show”, “I’ve Got a Secret”, “The Hollywood Squares”, “The $10,000 Pyramid”, “The $25,000 Dollar Pyramid”, “Celebrity Challenge of the Sexes”, “Happy Birthday, Charlie Brown”, “The Muppet Show”, “The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson”, awards shows, news shows, and numerous sporting programs; George appeared in “Meet the Parents” as Linda Banks and the short film “My Mother is Retarded”.
More than just a pretty face, George founded the food business “Chicken By George”, began the cosmetic line “Phyllis George Beauty”, founded the Kentucky Museum of Art and Craft, founded the Henry Clay Center for Statesmanship, and authored a number of books.
Phyllis Ann George was born June 25, 1949 in Denton, Texas. She attended the University of North Texas and TCU – Texas Christian University.
Her survivors include children Lincoln and Pamela.
Feature photo credit: By John Mathew Smith & http://www.celebrity-photos.com from Laurel Maryland, USA – Phyllis George, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=75610301