Phyllis George, the former Miss America who became a female sportscasting pioneer on CBS' The NFL Today and served as the first lady of Kentucky, has died. She was 70, reports the AP. A family rep said George died Thursday at a hospital in Lexington, Ky., after a long fight with a blood disorder. Her children, Lincoln Tyler George Brown and CNN White House correspondent Pamela Ashley Brown, said in a joint statement: “For many, Mom was ... the pioneering female sportscaster, 50th Miss America and first lady. To us, she was the most incredible mother we could ever ask for, and it is all of the defining qualities the public never saw, especially against the winds of adversity, that symbolize how extraordinary she is.” Miss America in 1971, George joined Brent Musburger and Irv Cross in 1975 on The NFL Today. “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," Musburger tweeted.
George spent three seasons on the live pregame show, winning plaudits for the warmth of her interviews with star athletes. She also covered horse racing, hosted the entertainment show People, and co-anchored the CBS Morning News. George was married to John Y. Brown Jr. from 1979-98. Brown owned Kentucky Fried Chicken and the Boston Celtics and served as the governor of Kentucky. “Phyllis was a great asset to Kentucky,” Brown told the Louisville Courier-Journal. “We had a great partnership. I think we enjoyed every single day.” George was a devout believer in the philosophy of positive thinking. “Saying yes to yourself opens up opportunities that can take you anywhere,” George wrote in her memoir. ESPN sportscaster Hannah Storm remembered George as “the ultimate trailblazer. A lot of times when you’re dreaming of something as a career option, you have to see it in order to believe it. And someone has to be first, and that was Phyllis.”
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