2014 Emerald Eagle Honors Honorees
Phyllis George ('71, '98)
Phyllis George was born and raised in Denton, Texas, and has had an eclectic career. An alumna of the University of North Texas, she won Miss Texas and was crowned the 50th Miss America in 1971. George became a trailblazer in the world of broadcasting as the first female sportscaster on national TV for the popular Emmy award-winning NFL Today show with Brent Musburger and Irv Cross. In 1998, George was awarded an honorary doctorate of media arts degree by UNT. George has authored six books and is also an entrepreneur founding two companies, including Chicken By George. When she was First Lady of Kentucky, married to Governor John Y. Brown, she restored the historic and beautiful Governor's Mansion that was recognized around the world. She also founded the renowned Kentucky Museum of Art and Craft in Louisville, Kentucky. George was in the hugely successful movie Meet the Parents, and she is a National Advocate for the Alzheimer's Association. She is the mother of two children, Lincoln and Pamela.
Larry McMurtry ('58)
Larry McMurtry is an American novelist, essayist, bookseller and screenwriter whose work is predominantly set in either the old west or contemporary Texas. Born in Wichita Falls, Texas, McMurtry graduated from UNT with honors in 1958. He is most well known for his 1975 novel Terms of Endearment (turned into the Academy Award-winning film starring Shirley MacLaine, Jack Nicholson and Debra Winger), his Pulitzer Prize-winning novel Lonesome Dove published in 1985, and the 2006 Academy Award for best adapted screenplay for Brokeback Mountain. McMurtry also published The Last Picture Show, among many other works, later receiving an Academy Award for its screenplay as well.
Peter Weller ('70)
Petere Weller has had a diverse five-decade film career including starring roles in RoboCop and its sequel, Woody Allen's Mighty Aphrodite, and last year's Star Trek Into Darkness. Weller also served as host of the History Channel's Engineering an Empire, played cameos in Fox's 24 and Showtime's Dexter, and is currently an actor and director for the hit FX television series Sons of Anarchy. Weller, who graduated from UNT in 1970 with a bachelor of arts in theater, later attended the American Academy of Dramatic Arts, and holds a master's degree in Roman renaissance art history from UCLA.
2013 Emerald Eagle Honors Honorees
Joe Greene ('69)
"Mean" Joe Greene, born Charles Edward "Joe" Greene of Temple, Texas, is arguably the University of North Texas' most famous football legend, playing for the team from 1966 to 1968.
Greene was named to the Associated Press All-Conference team as a junior and senior, and in 1968 he was the first North Texas player to earn a consensus All American honor. He led the football program to a 23-5-1 record during his three seasons, anchoring a defensive unit nicknamed the Mean Green.
Upon his graduation from UNT, Greene played for the NFL's Pittsburgh Steelers for 13 seasons, winning four Super Bowls. He is a member of the UNT, College Football and Pro Football halls of fame. Greene was the first African American to be named to the UNT System Board of Regents and the first African American to be named a UNT Distinguished Alumnus.
Singer, songwriter and rock 'n' roll legend Roy Kelton Orbison learned to play the guitar at age 6. In high school, he formed a country-music band called the Wink Westerners. He played with the band until 1954 when, as a student at North Texas, he thought they would achieve more success as a rock 'n' roll act. Re-invented as the Teen Kings, the band grew in popularity, playing throughout North and West Texas.
Sun Records in Memphis soon took notice, and Orbison recorded his first hit, "Ooby Dooby," a song written by two fellow North Texas students, for Sun in 1956. Despite that initial hit, Orbison and the Teen Kings struggled. The group disbanded, and Orbison signed a solo deal in 1959 with Monument Records. Throughout the 1960s, he wrote and recorded his greatest hits with Monument, including classics such as "Only the Lonely" (1960), "Blue Angel" (1960), "Running Scared" (1961), "Blue Bayou" (1963), "It's Over" (1964) and "Oh Pretty Woman" (1964). Elvis Presley called Orbison "the greatest singer in the world."
In 1980, Orbison recorded the Grammy Award-winning duet "That Lovin' You Feelin' Again" with Emmylou Harris. In 1987, the movie Blue Velvet included his hit "In Dreams" on its soundtrack, and Orbison was inducted into the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame. The next year, he taped a television tribute to his music, performing with many of his fellow rock legends and fans. He also released an album, The Traveling Wilburys, Volume One, with Bob Dylan, George Harrison, Tom Petty and Jeff Lynne, which won a Grammy Award. Orbison was initiated into the second class of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987. The same year he was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame.
Rolling Stone placed Orbison at number 37 on their list of The Greatest Artists of All Time, and number 13 on their list of The 100 Greatest Singers of All Time. Orbison died in December 1988.
Mary K. Suhm ('74 M.S., '84 M.B.A.)
Mary K. Suhm is serving her seventh year as city manager for the city of Dallas. She is responsible for the city's daily operations and manages a staff of about 13,000 employees and an annual budget of nearly $3 billion.
During her three decades in municipal government, Suhm has earned a national reputation among public administrators for creativity and innovation. She got her start at UNT, earning master's degrees in library science and business.
Suhm has won numerous awards from her peers. In 2009 she was honored by the Dallas Historical Society with the Jubilee History Maker award for her work in building a strong business environment to create growth and excellence for the Dallas community. In 2008, she received the YMCA Metropolitan Dallas Centennial Award, which honors women who have had the most significant influence on the city during the past century. She was named Public Administrator of the Year of North Texas in 2007 and Woman of the Year by the Women's Council of Dallas County in 2006. She was the 1995 recipient of the Linda Keithley Award for Women in Public Management.