The Texas native was 70.
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Phyllis George
Credit: Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images

Phyllis George, the former Miss America turned broadcast television pioneer, has died. She was 70.

A family spokeswoman told CBS News that George died Thursday in Lexington, Kentucky, after a decades-long fight with a blood disorder called polycythemia vera.

George was born in Denton, Texas, on June 25, 1949. She attended North Texas State University before becoming the 50th Miss America in 1971. Her magnetic personality and boundless energy made her a beloved household name. She went on to become the first female co-anchor of The NFL Today in 1975.

"She paved the way for other women to become sportscasters," her daughter, CNN senior White House correspondent Pamela Brown, told CNN.

In 1979, George married Kentucky Fried Chicken owner John Y. Brown Jr., who became the governor of Kentucky shortly thereafter. As First Lady, George founded the Kentucky Art and Craft Foundation, now known as the Kentucky Museum of Art and Craft. After leaving the Governor’s Mansion, she hosted the entertainment show People, and enjoyed a brief stint as the co-anchor of CBS Morning News.

George also wrote six books, including Never Say Never–Yes You Can, which featured inspirational stories from high-profile personalities in 2002.

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George was first diagnosed with polycythemia vera 35 years ago and lived with it for far longer than doctors expected.

"It's a testament to her unwavering spirit and determination she made it this long, 10 years longer than any doctor ever thought possible," her son Lincoln said in a statement.

George spent decades sharing her positive outlook in speeches and interviews.

"Life is what you make it," she said in a 1985 interview. "This is what I go around the country lecturing on. Because if it can happen to me, it can happen to you and you and you. It's just how much you want it. My old expression is, 'If you snooze, you lose; if you snore, you lose more.'"