The Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders

The following is an article from Uncle John's Fully Loaded 25th Anniversary Bathroom Reader.

(Image credit: Flickr user Doug Wertman)

NFL games weren't always the mega-events they are today. What changed them? The Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders.

CASHING IN

On November 5, 1967, the Dallas Cowboys were hosting the Atlanta Falcons at the Cotton Bowl. During a break in the action, one of the spectators, "Bubbles" Cash, a well-known Dallas burlesque performer, decided to put on an impromptu performance. Dressed in a fringe halter top, short-shorts, and cowboy boots, and carrying cotton candy in each hand (to resemble pompoms), Cash jumped onto the field and strutted right down the 50-yard line, turning the heads of fans, players, and coaches as she went.

As the story made headlines, Cowboys general manager Tex Schramm was intrigued. Pro football was at a moment of change -the first Super Bowl had been held earlier that year, and Schramm was looking for ways to raise the team's profile …and increase its revenue. The answer, he realized, was in turning the games from regionally popular athletic contests into national entertainment. Inspired by Cash's stunt, Schramm decided to inject some sex appeal into the Cowboys.

OUT WITH THE OLD

The Dallas Cowboys already had a cheerleading squad called the CowBelles & Beaux. Adhering to the traditional Ivy League cheerleader format, the squad was co-ed; they led cheers and boosted team morale with rally cries and athletic stunts. And the CowBelles & Beaux crew was made up entirely of high school students. But in 1969, Schramm began putting his burlesque-inspired changes into motion. He dropped the male cheerleaders and simplified the squad's name to the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders. By 1970 he'd hired a director and charged her with altering the routines to make them more dance-oriented and less acrobatic.

FRINGE BENEFITS

In 1972 Schramm hired Texie Waterman, a Dallas choreographer who had worked in television (as a dancer on Sid Caesar's Your Show of Shows), to select and train a completely different squad. Requirements: The girls all had to be over 18, they had to be attractive, and they had to have talent. Schramm also asked Waterman to provide her crew with provocative uniforms.

(Image credit: Flickr user Doug Wertman)

Waterman hired designer Jody Van Amburgh to come up with something distinctly different from the classic sweater-and-skirt combo. The result: a fringed blue-and-white halter top (Cowboys team colors), white short-shorts, a belt buckle, and tall white boots (Sound familiar?) Seamstress Laveta Crager made all the uniforms by hand -and did all the tailoring work on every single outfit until 1996. With some minor changes (crystals added to fringe, belt buckle removed and then added back), today's Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders uniforms are basically the same as the ones from 1972 -the design is even a registered trademark.

STARS OF THE WEST

The Dallas Cowboys became one of the NFL's most successful teams. They went to four Super Bowls in the 1970s, earning the nickname "America's Team." Their cheerleaders, meanwhile, became a pop culture phenomenon.

1996 USO tour, Tuzla Main Base, Bosnia-Herzegovina.

* The squad, with new members every season, went on USO tours and became a fixture on 1970s TV variety shows.

* A TV special, The 36 Most beautiful Girls In Texas, aired in 1978 before a Cowboys game on ABC's Monday Night Football.

* The squad guest-starred on a two-part episode of The Love Boat in 1979, and appeared for "celebrity week" on Family Feud.

* A 1979 made-for-TV movie called The Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders (costarring Bert Convy and Jane Seymour) was a big hit, and a sequel followed a year later.

* Through the 1980s and '90s, calendars, posters, and other merchandise bearing the image of the scantily-clad cheerleaders flew off store shelves, and the Cheerleaders continued to make TV appearances, from Saturday Night Live to Hee Haw.

IF IT AIN'T BROKE

(Image credit: Flickr user Doug Wertman)

Before long other NFL teams followed suit and started cheerleading squads using the Cowboys formula -young women in small costumes dancing around on the sidelines, posing for calendars, and making public appearances. Some of the squads that started in the '70s include the Chicago Honey Bears, the Cincinnati Ben Gals, the Dolphin Starbrites, the New Orleans Saintsations, the Liberty Bells (for the Philadelphia Eagles), the Swashbucklers (for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers), and the Derrick Dolls (for the Houston Oilers).

But the Cowboys are still the most famous. Through merchandise sales and public events, the squad currently earns more than $1 million per year for the franchise, but their value in shining a spotlight on pro football, and on the Dallas Cowboys, is immeasurable. Or maybe not. As of 2010, the Cowboys are one of just five football teams worth an estimated $1 billion or more.

(YouTube link)

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This article is reprinted with permission from Uncle John's Fully Loaded Bathroom Reader.

Get ready to be thoroughly entertained while occupied on the throne. Uncle John has ruled the world of information and humor for 25 years, and the anniversary edition is the Fully Loaded Bathroom Reader.

Since 1988, the Bathroom Reader Institute had published a series of popular books containing irresistible bits of trivia and obscure yet fascinating facts. If you like Neatorama, you'll love the Bathroom Reader Institute's books - go ahead and check 'em out!


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Not from the Texas area myself, so others will have to back me up on this, but sometime before the Cowboy Cheerleaders become the "official" cheerleaders I recall a group called the "Kilgore Rangerettes" that — at least to me — appeared to be the regular half-time/sideline performers.

-"BB"-
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It'd be nice if some of the other football teams did something more like championship collegiate cheerleading only at a professional level. The DCC's are basically just a dance team. They can't do the really gymnastic stuff like aerials. I caught parts of an episode of their reality show where they tried to learn and it was scary. I thought someone was going to get hurt.
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"Inspired by Cash's stunt, Schramm decided to inject some sex appeal into the Cowboys."
In other words, titties n' beer.
I once read that the average football game has something like only 11 minutes of actual play. It's like watching paint dry. No wonder they had to sex it up somehow - it probably would have gone the way of the dinosaur, otherwise.
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