She is the daughter of a small businessman in the indolent college town of Denton, Texas.Her swift rise from North Texas State cheerleader to Miss America of 1971 tracks like a reel from an old Jane Powell musical. “I did commercials, game shows, co-hosted Candid Camera, anything that came along,” she recounts, “and I took acting and dancing lessons on the side.” Meanwhile, the networks were searching for a woman sportscaster whom men would look at and listen to.Beyond NFL and NBA color, it calls for her to take over Challenge of the Sexes (from snow-flaky Suzy Chaffee) and may include TV series cameos and even a featured role in a made-for-TV movie. Her dress nowadays is Manhattan chic, and most echoes of Texas have been expunged from her voice.Still, enough of her small-town Methodist upbringing remains to make Phyllis an engaging hybrid, an authentic country slicker.“That’s where a woman’s sensitivity comes in.” Expanding on this touchy point, she says: “Women are inquisitive as well as sensitive—they like to find out about people.
“I cried for two days after they had to destroy Ruffian,” she says.“We were sitting around the Zeta Tau Alpha house on Friday night before the Miss Dallas pageant,” she remembers, “and my sorority sisters thought it would be fun if I went down to Dallas the next morning to enter…” She had the requisites: the height (5’8″), the measurements (36-23-36) and appropriately modest talent (14 years at the piano). She would calmly reply: “I got a ,000 scholarship and am well paid for my work. Bob Wussler, president then of CBS Sports (and now of the whole shebang), spotted Phyllis in the 1974 Miss America telecast and signed her that autumn. “I woke up one night crying and said to myself, ‘Are you out of your mind?By the time she became queen of the realm, the institution was becoming unpopular, but Phyllis showed unprecedented spirit in dealing with protesters. ’ ” Currently, she is negotiating a new four-year contract that should round out to about 0,000.If you tune in to CNN these days and spot behind a microphone a lovely, fresh-faced young news correspondent who looks really familiar, you are old enough to remember Kentucky’s own “Camelot” days.That enchanted time when a celebrity-powered couple occupied our Governor’s Mansion – and the birth of a baby girl became a piece of the story that further captured the hearts of Kentuckians. 29, 1983, when Pamela Ashley Brown was born to Kentucky Fried Chicken magnate and then-Gov.Kentucky’s First Lady took leaves from her NFL program responsibilities to give birth to both her “first son” and, three years later, her “first daughter” – and earned accolades for “saving” the Governor’s Mansion when she undertook to secure funding and oversee the restoration of the historic structure.Infant Pamela spent her childhood at the family’s Cave Hill estate in Lexington and stayed there after her parents’ divorce in 1998 to finish her studies at Henry Clay High School.But Chastain was as miscast as Gertrude Stein might have been in the NFL broadcast booth, and her contract was not renewed. Here is a stunning revelation: Athletes like to talk to gorgeous girls with eyes of onyx and a smile like a flash of summer lightning on a hot Texas night.Phyllis is also as bright, warm and friendly as a June picnic on Lake Texoma, an impulsive kisser and compulsive talker in the classic tradition of Southwestern girls.As the stadium banners (shamelessly planted by CBS) say, she probably is prettier than Frank Gifford, but more than that, George is a born-for-TV presence.Phyllis manages a dedication to her new trade without repudiating her own history.