Phyllis George has died. One of the first women to become a national figure in the world of broadcast sports, George’s long and varied career included stints as everything from Miss America, to a national network morning news anchor, to the first lady of Kentucky. She died yesterday, at the age of 70; according to Variety, complications from a blood disorder have been revealed as the cause of death.
George entered the national spotlight in 1970, when she was named Miss Texas, before graduating to become Miss America the following year. A few years later, she parlayed that initial stardom into a series of TV gigs, including co-hosting Candid Camera, appearing as a regular guest on The $10,000 Pyramid, and, most notably, scoring a job on CBS’s regular NFL pre-game show, The NFL Today. Her long association with the network led her to be considered as a new host for CBS’s flagging a.m. news show The CBS Morning News in the 1980s, taking the spot vacated when Diane Sawyer jumped ship for 60 Minutes. Although she interviewed numerous high-profile figures of the day—including Nancy Reagan—George lasted less than a year in the role. She would later host People’s short-lived TV variant, before mostly retiring from show business to focus on business pursuits. (Although she did pop up for a small role in Meet The Parents, one of her only film credits.)
The aforementioned business endeavors included companies focused on both chicken and cosmetics, the former of which she eventually sold to Hormel. George was also married to Robert Evans (from 1977 to 1978) and to John Y. Brown Jr., himself also a chicken entrepreneur, and also the former governor of Kentucky. The two were married from 1979 to 1998.