John Y. Brown, Jr.

John Y. Brown, Jr.

Governor of Kentucky

This article is about one of four John Young Browns, from Kentucky, who have served in political office. For others see: John Young Brown File:Symbol support vote. svg En:John Y. Brown, Jr. 55th Governor of Kentucky In officeDecember 11, 1979 – December 13, 1983 Lieutenant Martha L. Collins Preceded by Julian M. Carroll Succeeded by Martha L. Collins Born December 28, 1933 (1933-12-28) (age 78)Template:Safesubst:Lexington, KentuckyTemplate:Safesubst: Birth name John Young Brown, Jr. Political party Democratic Spouse(s) Eleanor Durall (1960-1977) Phyllis George (1979-1998) Jill Roach (1998-2003) Relations Son of John Y. Brown, Sr. Children Four children, including John Y. Brown, III and Pamela Ashley Brown Alma mater University of Kentucky Profession Attorney, Businessman Website http://www. johnybrownjr. com/ Military service Service/branch U.S. Army Reserve Years of service 1959–1965 John Young Brown, Jr. (born December 28, 1933) is a politician, entrepreneur, and businessman from the U.S. state of Kentucky. He served as the 55th governor of Kentucky from 1979 to 1983, although he may be best known for building Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) into a multi-million dollar restaurant chain. Currently single, he has been married three times, the second time to former Miss America Phyllis George. Among his children are news anchor Pamela Ashley Brown and former Secretary of State of Kentucky John Y. Brown, III. The son of a U.S. congressman, Brown's talent for business became evident in college, where he made a substantial amount of money selling Encyclopædia Britannica sets. After briefly practicing law with his father, he purchased Kentucky Fried Chicken from founder Harland Sanders in 1964. Brown turned the company into a world-wide success, and sold his interest in the company for a huge profit in 1971. He then invested in several other restaurant ventures, but none matched the success of KFC. During the 1970s, he also owned, at various times, three professional basketball teams – the American Basketball Association's Kentucky Colonels, and the National Basketball Association's Buffalo Braves and Boston Celtics. Despite having previously shown little inclination toward politics, Brown surprised political observers by declaring his candidacy for governor in 1979. With the state and nation facing difficult economic times, Brown promised to run the state government like a business. A strong media campaign funded by his personal fortune allowed him to win the Democratic primary and go on to defeat former Republican governor Louie B. Nunn in the general election. Because he owed few favors to established political leaders, he appointed many successful businesspeople to state posts instead of making political appointments. Following through on his campaign promise to make more diverse appointments, he named a woman and an African-American to his cabinet. During his tenure, Brown exerted less influence over the legislature than previous governors and was frequently absent from the state, leaving lieutenant governor Martha Layne Collins as acting governor for more than one quarter of his term. He briefly considered a run for the U.S. Senate after his gubernatorial term, but withdrew from the race after only three weeks, citing health issues. He has continued to invest in business ventures, the most high profile of which was Kenny Rogers Roasters, a wood-roasted chicken restaurant he founded with country music star Kenny Rogers.… Read More

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Learn about the memorable moments in the evolution of John Y. Brown, Jr..


1933 Birth Brown was born on December 28, 1933 in Lexington, Kentucky. … Read More


1957 23 Years Old After high school, Brown matriculated to the University of Kentucky, where he earned a bachelor's degree in 1957 and a law degree in 1960. … Read More
1959 25 Years Old Brown joined his father's law practice after earning his law degree. From 1959 to 1965, he also served in the United States Army Reserve. … Read More
1960 26 Years Old 1 More Event
In 1960, Brown married Eleanor Bennett Durall and had three children - John Y. Brown, III, Eleanor Faris, and Sandra Bennett. … Read More
1963 29 Years Old During a 1963 political breakfast, Brown met Colonel Harland Sanders, the founder of Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC), and the two discussed selling Sanders' chicken in Brown's chain of barbecue restaurants.


1964 - 1966 2 More Events
1969 35 Years Old The Louisville Junior Chamber of Commerce honored him as Louisville's Outstanding Young Man in 1969, and he was inducted into the University of Kentucky Alumni Association Hall of Distinguished Alumni on November 6, 1970. … Read More
1970 36 Years Old Concurrent with his post-KFC business ventures, Brown purchased an ownership stake in several professional basketball teams. In 1970, Wendell Cherry assembled a group that included Brown to buy the American Basketball Association's (ABA) Kentucky Colonels.
1972 38 Years Old Following the 1972 - 73 season, Cherry sold his interest in the Colonels to a group from Cincinnati, Ohio; Brown immediately purchased Cherry's interest from the group, reportedly to keep the team from moving to Cincinnati. … Read More


Babe McCarthy lasted only one season as Mullaney's replacement; in 1975, Brown hired Hubie Brown as head coach. … Read More
1977 43 Years Old 1 More Event
In 1977, Brown purchased the remaining share of the team from owner Paul Snyder. … Read More
On March 17, 1979, he married former Miss America and CBS sportscaster Phyllis George. … Read More
1980 46 Years Old 1 More Event
…  The state had expected to cover the cost of the repairs using federal revenue sharing funds, but President Jimmy Carter ordered a halt to the funds in May 1980. … Read More
1981 47 Years Old 1 More Event
During his term, Brown served as co-chairman of the Appalachian Regional Commission and chair of the Southern States' Energy Board. In May 1981, he was awarded an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from the University of Kentucky, and in May 1982, he was the recipient of the Father of the Year award. … Read More
1983 49 Years Old When the Federal Bureau of Investigation probed the matter in 1983, Brown claimed he withdrew the money to cover gambling debts he ran up during "one bad night gambling" in Las Vegas. … Read More


1984 50 Years Old On March 15, 1984, Brown filed as a candidate for the U.S. Senate seat held by Walter "Dee" Huddleston just hours before the filing deadline. … Read More
1987 53 Years Old 1 More Event
In 1987, Brown again ran for governor, entering a crowded Democratic primary that included Lieutenant Governor Steve Beshear, former governor Julian Carroll, Grady Stumbo, and political newcomer Wallace Wilkinson. … Read More
1991 57 Years Old In 1991, Brown formed a partnership with recording artist Kenny Rogers, co-founding and serving as CEO of Kenny Rogers Roasters, an international chain of wood-roasted chicken restaurants. … Read More


1995 61 Years Old Brown and his wife Phyllis separated in August 1995. Phyllis filed for divorce in Kentucky in 1996, but withdrew the petition amid settlement talks with her husband.
1997 63 Years Old 1 More Event
After Brown reportedly cut off much of his wife's financial support, she filed a second divorce petition in 1997, this time in Broward County, Florida where her husband was living at the time. After a brief legal fight over whether the proceedings should take place in Kentucky or Florida, the divorce became final in 1998.
2003 69 Years Old 1 More Event
Later that year, he married former Mrs. Kentucky Jill Louise Roach, 27 years his junior, but they divorced in 2003 for reasons not released. … Read More
2006 - 2008 3 More Events
2011 77 Years Old 1 More Event
The case against Brown was dropped before it went to trial, and a Fayette County judge dismissed the suit against Somers for lack of evidence in 2011.
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