May 18 (UPI) — Miss America 1971 Phyllis George has died of a blood disorder at age 70, her family announced.
Her children — entrepreneur Lincoln Tyler George Brown and CNN White House correspondent Pamela Ashley Brown — confirmed her Thursday death to the media on Saturday.
Famous for co-hosting the TV shows NFL Today and Candid Camera, she was the first lady of Kentucky while she was married to Gov. John Y. Brown, and founded the Kentucky Museum of Art and Craft.
“Just as Kentucky embraced Phyllis for the glamour and graciousness she extended to everyone she met, she wholeheartedly embraced Kentucky for its people, its artisans, and its natural scenic beauty,” said a death notice provided by her family.
“She could just as easily sit down on the front porch swing at the house of a basket maker on some little country road in small town Kentucky as she could host a dinner for four U.S. presidents at the Kentucky governor’s mansion.”
George appeared on the CBS pregame football from 1971 to 1975 with Brent Musberger and Irv Cros. She returned in 1980 and left in 1983.
“Phyllis George was special. Her smile lit up millions of homes for the NFL Today,” Musburger tweeted. “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.
“Folks — men and women — were comfortable with Phyllis talking about their favorite sport. And in New York, Philadelphia and Washington, they loved Phyllis despite her Dallas Cowboys bias!”
Sports broadcaster Tim Brando tweeted: “So sad to hear this, as Phyllis broke barriers for women in Sports Television. It wasn’t easy, and well documented that many made it tough on her. Proud to have known her,”
Sports reporter Tina Cervasio posted: “Saddened to wake to news Phyllis George passed away~too soon. Condolences to her daughter who followed in her TV footsteps. Phyllis was a pioneer in sports television, paving the way for so many women & tonight I will host a sports show because of her.”