Jimmy the Greek introduced them, and Howard Cosell tagged along on their first date, so it’s little wonder that Phyllis George’s wedding to John Y. Brown Jr. took on all the glitter of the Super Bowl, which is when he proposed. As a couple, they are a press agent’s dream. George, 29, is a former Miss America and CBS sportscaster, and Brown, 45, is co-owner of the Boston Celtics who made his first $25 million building and then selling the Kentucky Fried Chicken empire. Although both had been married before—she for 11 months to producer Bob Evans, he for 14 years to college sweetheart Ellie Durall—they decided on a big, formal wedding anyway. “I want to set an example for the rest of America,” Phyllis said. “It doesn’t have to be different the second time around.” Designer Albert Capraro wrapped her in off-white—a traditional wedding gown with a fox hem for the church and a strapless number for dancing at the reception.
The nuptial weekend kicked off with a rehearsal dinner at 21 and a late-night boogie at 54, even though the bride-to-be had broken her toe taking the wedding gift wrappings out to the trash earlier in the week. (Among the presents was a Bible from Willie Nelson.) At the 5 p.m. ceremony next day at Marble Collegiate Church, the groom fumbled his vows, but old pro Norman Vincent Peale declared them “two very talented people, and together you can become a team.”
In the receiving line at Tavern-on-the-Green Phyllis pecked 350 mostly famous cheeks while bagpipers skirled away. In one room a quintet of Juilliard violinists fiddled Here Comes the Bride, and in another a portable disco sent up smoke.
The couple had quarreled about the menu (“I thought they’d get divorced before they got married,” mused chef Gerard Thabuis, who once cooked for de Gaulle), but settled on a $63-a-head buffet featuring 14 hors d’oeuvres, beef Wellington, grits, Kentucky ham and ambrosia as Phyllis’ mom makes it in Denton, Texas.
After a Caribbean honeymoon in St. Martin, John Y. and Phyllis Ann, as they call each other, will live in New York, where she has an apartment, in Los Angeles, where she’s testing for TV movies, and in Lexington, Ky., where Brown may announce for governor next week. “Whatever you want to do, I’ll be there with you,” she has vowed. In any case, she is planning on “Little Johns and Little Phyllises” in a couple of years.
Awaiting the couple’s return from the tropics are five-figure tabs from Tavern-on-the-Green and designer Capraro. Phyllis won’t discuss the details. “John’s a multimillionaire and money is not that important to him,” she says. “Besides, it’s not Southern to discuss money, and John is Southern and a gentleman.”
In other words, she’ll think about it tomorrow.