Photographers following macho movie star Sylvester Stallone nearly missed him ducking out of the Omni Shoreham Hotel Saturday night, where he accepted the President's Council on Physical Fitness award at the Touchdown Club of Washington's 53rd annual awards dinner. Stallone, haggard and barely recognizable with a deep tan and long, wavy hair, crawled into the back of a limousine with girlfriend Cornelia Guest, 24, before anyone could ask about the story that the two will marry.

The 41-year-old millionaire reportedly popped the question Thursday in Beverly Hills and Guest said yes. Although Stallone's spokesman called the story "totally false," Guest's mother, C.Z. Guest, apparently hadn't been told to keep a lid on it. "I'm thrilled for both of them," she said. "They have my blessing and my love."

Cornelia Guest, dubbed "Debutante of the Decade" by Life magazine, shed a stunning white fur coat when the pair and an entourage of 10 dropped in at the River Club at about 9:30 "for less than an hour," as they told the manager, who hastily cleared a table for them. Stallone and Guest were holding hands, even as Stallone graciously signed autographs. By the time the group left around midnight, it had emptied two magnums of Louis Roederer Cristal champagne at $250 each -- but had forgone caviar. Phyllis George's Chicken Venture

Phyllis George appears to have a secret, or two, and it has nothing to do with chicken. The former Miss America and one-time "CBS Morning News" host is up front about promoting her latest venture: Chicken by George, featuring her picture on the packaging and available at supermarket meat counters. But ask her about her future in TV and her comments are cryptic. "I can't announce to you that I'm pregnant with my third child," she said. "I can't say that I'll be starring on Monday night football next September." George's husband John Y. Brown, whose own chicken business is the fast fried kind, lost his bid to return to the Kentucky governor's mansion last year. Jerry Brown's New Mission

Former California governor Jerry Brown raised eyebrows for liberalizing laws in his state against marijuana possession and homosexual conduct. But his latest exploit may leave his critics dumbfounded. Brown, 49, has spent 10 days caring for the destitute and dying in a mission in Calcutta run by Nobel Peace Prize winner Mother Teresa. Doubts about "the sheltered perspective of California's affluence" prompted Brown to seek out the mission. "It is a most satisfying experience to get strong doses of reality," he said. "I am rediscovering life anew."

Brown, who as a young man spent four years in a Jesuit seminary, served in the governor's mansion from 1975 to 1983, succeeding Ronald Reagan. Tragedy at the Met

New York City's medical examiner yesterday ruled a suicide the death of an 82-year-old opera lover who plunged from the upper balcony of the Metropolitan Opera House on Saturday. Early in the investigation, police ruled out foul play but said the death may have been an accident. Neither the medical examiner's office nor police would say what led investigators to classify the death a suicide. The victim, Bantcho Bantchevsky, a singing coach who lived a block from the theater, suffered numerous internal and external injuries, the medical examiner's office reported.

Bantchevsky's fall came during the second intermission of a matinee performance of Verdi's "Macbeth," which was being broadcast nationwide by radio. Many of the 3,800 patrons had momentarily left the theater.

The rest of the performance was canceled. The radio audience was informed at 4:40 p.m. only that a person had died in the theater.

Chuck Conconi is on vacation.