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Phyllis George

Vogues are transitory; cycle is inevitable.” That is how the 50th Miss America, Phyllis George explains that although trends come and go, the popularity of an institution simply ebbs and flows.

Miss America 1971 Phyllis George and Miss America 1975 Shirley Cothran were honorary co-chairs of this past summer’s 75th Miss Texas Celebration in Arlington, where rumors swirled that the cycle of George’s career will soon find her back as a network sports broadcaster.

Phyllis declined to reveal details of those negotiations, but Miss Texas 1970 Bellinda Myrick-Barnett stirred the pot by saying, “We need to get her back emceeing the Super Bowl!”

Being the first female network sportscaster (on CBS NFL Today) is just one example of how George has written the book on kicking down doors to achieve one’s goals. In fact, the very title of her latest book (her sixth) is “Never Say Never” and it promises “10 lessons to turn ‘You can’t’ into ‘Yes I can.’”

Phyllis George viewed the January 15th return of Miss America to ABC-TV as the inevitable payback for the pageant’s 90-year role in our nation’s history.

“We’re still here. We survived!” states Phyllis. “The Miss America Pageant is iconic. It’s an American institution.”

At the 75th Miss Texas Celebration, in which more than 30 former Miss Texas titleholders returned to celebrate their sisterhood, Phyllis shared the spotlight with Shirley Cothran, her former sorority sister from Denton, Texas. It was no surprise that Phyllis, always on the lookout for another interesting project, was inspired by their reunion.

“I read in the newspaper—it was so cute—someone asked, ‘What’s in the water in Denton?’ It’s never happened before, that two Miss Americas came from the same hometown.

“Being an entrepreneur, I had this great idea,” she said, to sell purified water from Denton in biodegradable bottles, put a crown on it, and promise that by drinking it, you can become Miss America.

“Would you buy it?” she asked rhetorically. “This is how great ideas are born,” she continued, “on stage at Miss Texas and having lunches and dinners” with fellow pageant notables.

One thing is for sure—if anybody can make it happen, it’s Phyllis George. She’s always proved the skeptics wrong. Phyllis was the first co-host of Candid Camera, the “first lady of chicken” (as founder and owner of Chicken by George) and First Lady of Kentucky when married to then-Gov. John Y. Brown Jr.

Recently, she received the prestigious Rita Hayworth Alzheimer’s Award for her commitment to the cause. Her mother, Louise, died with the disease, which now afflicts Bellinda Myrick-Barnett’s mother.

“Phyllis is constantly on the run and has lots of things going on,” said Bellinda. “She’s in the process of writing another book, but between business and philanthropic interests as well as a hectic social schedule, she spends as much time as possible with her children Pamela and Lincoln Brown.”

Phyllis George also attended the 90th Miss America Pageant in Las Vegas last January, where fans from Texas celebrated the 40th anniversary of her crowning as “the fairest of the fair.”


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