Pageant Winners > Miss Americas > Phyllis George, Miss America 1971
Phyllis George, Miss America 1971, of Denton, Texas, remains one the most popular Miss Americas of all. Her rise to the national crown was no surprise to those who knew her, given her stunning beauty and charm. George, a 5’8″ brown-eyed brunette, and student at University of North Texas, was a shoe-in at the Miss Texas Pageant and arrived in Atlantic City as a stand-out contestant among the 50 state titleholders.
Phyllis competed at the 1970 Miss America Pageant where she performed the popular movie theme, “Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head” on the piano – while smiling madly at the judges and never looking at the keyboard – a stunt many of piano-playing future contestant would do well to replicate.
In the swimsuit competition she was a standout – despite her muscular thighs from high school cheerleading and tennis-playing – easily dazzling the judges and winning the preliminary swimsuit competition award.
She was crowned by a titleholder who couldn’t have been more different – the blue-eyed blond, china doll lookalike, Pamela Eldred of Michigan. To celebrate the pageant’s 50th anniversary, a special commemorative golden crown had been manufactured. As Bert Parks announced Miss Texas as the winner and she took center stage to be crowned, one of the most humorous crowning scenes in pageant history took place. Unaware that Phyllis was wearing a hairpiece, Eldred attempted to stabilize the crown with several bobby pins. When the bobby pins wouldn’t penetrate Phyllis’ hair, she kept trying to pin the tiara in place – to no avail.
Noticing producers urgently signaling her let George proceed down the runway, Eldred gave up her attempts to pin on the crown and Phyllis happily began her walk down the runway. As most winners do, Phyllis nodded her thanks to the judges. The crown tumbled off her head and rolled down the runway, scattering rhinestones everywhere. The new Miss America, squatted down to retrieve her crown, becoming the only Miss America to carry her crown.
Phyllis had a highly successful reign and went on to enter broadcasting where she achieved considerable success, first appearing as co-host of the the comedy show, Candid Camera.
In 1975 Phyllis made television history when she was hired by “The NFL Today” to report on NFL games and players during the pregame show – making her the first female national sportscaster in television history – and in an entirely male-dominated television sports industry.
In 1985, she became the anchor of the CBS “Morning News“.
George has been married twice, first to movie producer Robert Evans, to whom she was married for two years, and Kentucky Governor John Y. Brown, Jr., to who she was married for nine years. The couple made the decision to run for the governorship during their honeymoon and quickly became first couple of the state.
Phyllis served as a very high profile first lady, who was, and is still, beloved by the people of Kentucky for her efforts to promote their state and its quaint Americana arts and crafts through public appearances and everal books, “Kentucky Crafts” and “Craft In America: Celebrating the Creative Work of the Hands”.
The Browns had two children together, Lincoln George Brown, now an IT entrepreneur, and Pamela George Brown, now a TV news reporter.
After her divorce from Brown, Phyllis permanently moved to New York City where she continued her television career.
George also emerged as a highly successful businesswoman, founding “Chicken By George”, which marketed seasoned chicken fillets to grocery stores and which sold to Hormel Foods, and “Phyllis George Beauty”, a skincare and cosmetics line. She also penned several more books, including The “I Love America Diet” and the inspirational advice book, “Never Say Never“.
Still a hugely popular former Miss America, she is often seen in attendance at the pageant and is frequently interviewed to discuss the extraordinary life her victory launched.
Phyllis George Miss America 1971 Facts
- Miss Texas 1970 and Miss America 1971
- Talent: Played “Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head” on the piano
- Won the preliminary swimsuit competition
- Phyllis George made a splash at the pageant when she brought her pet hermit
crab to her Miss America press conference.
Phyllis George Miss America 1971 Photos
Phyllis George, Miss America 1971, achieved fame in television as a sportscaster and in business. At one time the former Miss America was even rumored to be a possible future first lady.