Decades of Bills cheerleaders
This season marks the first since 1967 that the Buffalo Jills won’t entertain Bills fans during games. From The News’ archives, here are a sampling of photos from more than 50 years of Bills cheerleaders.
Longtime Green Bay dance instructor Van to be honored at tribute
By Nathan Phelps
Thousands of people, including Green Bay Packers cheerleaders, have learned dance from veteran instructor Shirley Van for decades.
Now the 86-year-old is being honored for her work in the community. Her dance studio, Shirley Van’s Dance Studio, was founded in the 1950s and operates a location in Allouez and has plans to reopen a location on West Mason Street in Green Bay this summer.
“She’s one of those humble servants, not one who always needs a pat on the back for what she does or a standing ovation,” said Corrie Campbell, the business development manager for Shirley Van’s Studios. “It’s nice to be able to pay homage to her and at least give back a little bit to her for what she has done in the community.”
Among her local ties is a nine-year stint as a one of the founding choreographers and instructors with the Green Bay Packers cheerleaders in the 1970s and 1980s.
“She really kind of stepped it up a notch in terms of dance … and established a routine with them,” Campbell said. “She also had players in her classes at one time.”The team honored Van for her contributions last fall and are co-sponsoring part of Saturday’s tribute.
Van’s body of work includes the formation 40 years ago of the People’s Ballet Company, now the Dance Company, which puts on two major productions annually.
A graduate of St. Norbert College, Van spent six years as an instructor of dance and movement at the college and 16 years as the choreographer for St. Norbert College Music Theatre productions. She also worked with area schools, choreographing dozens of productions.
Van, who learned dance in Chicago, New York and California, considered a career as a professional dancer, but opted to teach.
“It is much more important to pass dance on to others and share what I know than to entertain,” Van said in a 1981 interview with the Green Bay Press-Gazette.
Van is also a co-founder of the Green Bay Chapter of Adventures in Movement in 1970, a program aimed at teaching dance to people with disabilities. That program is expected to be reintroduced at the revamped Green Bay studio later this year.
“She brought dance back here. She studied with some of the greatest masters in jazz dance and traditional ballet,” said Campbell, a former student. “When she brought that back here, it really raised the level of dance in the community.”
Van’s studio is a non-competitive studio and focuses on dance company productions.
“Many of our students have gone on to dance professionally, or semi-professionally, and if they haven’t … (students) have a great ability to carry themselves well in public and in public speaking,” Campbell said.
Van, who still teaches in the studio, is passing the torch and legacy of the business to many of her students.
“It’s a good time, but it’s a bittersweet time, too,” Campbell said. “She’s done so much for our community.”
In this segment, taped for KDFW’s “Eyewitness News” in 1976, Dallas-based reporter Jim Ruddy covers the first open tryouts held by the Dallas Cowboys to select the team’s cheerleading squad for the 1976-1977 football season. The tryouts, which took place at Texas Stadium in the Dallas suburb of Irving, drew over 130 cheerleading hopefuls. Included in the footage are interviews with several of those cheerleading hopefuls, as well as scenes from the selection process.
A couple of weeks ago, I posted a request for help with identifying dancers who have other family members who have also danced or cheered professionally. I was convinced it was happening a lot more often than we knew. And the dance team from Philadelphia 76ers proved me right. Rebecca Timms from the Sixers organization came through for me in a way I never imagined. She gave me sisters, she gave me cousins, and she gave me a mother/daughter duo. Complete with funny hat. And one of them is the coach! This, my friends, is what we call a HOME RUN. In scrabble, this would be a quadruple word score.
First up, we have cousins Erica and Nicole, both team captains during their time on the squad.
Next we have sisters Danielle and Valerie.
Danielle became a Sixers Dancer in 2007 and retired after the 2012-13 season. She was a captain during her last two years on the team. Valerie joined the team in 2011, when the name changed from the Sixers Dancers to the Dream Team, and she is currently in her third season on the team.
And finally, we have mother and daughter Dayna and Cheryl
Cheryl was on the team back when they were called the Liberty Belles. I’m not sure what year this photo came from, but the hair is telling me late 60s/early 70s. Dayna danced for seven seasons before retiring in 2006 as Assistant Captain. Three years later, she was hired as head coach of the Sixers Dancers, and is in her sixth year in that role.
There is clearly a lot of family love going on here, so if you have a sister (or a cousin) and the both of you can dance your tails off, get thee to Philadelphia. I’m not kidding. The Sixers Dream Team auditions are next month, with a pre-audition workshop scheduled for June 7th. (Click here for audition details.)
A few days late, but still worth watching
This season the Bucs cheerleaders have had occasion to whip out various parts of their old uniforms. These tops were only worn during the 2003-04 NFL season. This is probably the first time they’ve seen the light of day since. I have no idea why they wore these, but I’m glad they did. They are super-cute.
By Bob McGinn
Green Bay — It has been almost 30 years since the Green Bay Packers outfitted an official cheerleading squad in contemporary attire and had its members support the team in games at Lambeau Field and Milwaukee County Stadium.
The Packers got out of the cheerleading business in January 1987 and have no intentions of getting back in.
Instead, management will continue the practice of using a total of 15 to 20 cheerleaders from nearby St. Norbert College and the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay that has been in effect since the mid-1990s.
“Most of us feel the college cheerleaders fit with the image we want to project,” Packers President Mark Murphy said Friday. “It’s wholesome. I hear mostly good things about our cheerleaders from fans. I think they find it kind of quaint, to be honest.”
The collegiate cheerleaders dress in modest uniforms supplied by the Packers.
Green Bay is one of six franchises in the National Football League without an official squad. The cheerleading units for the other 26 teams often have been described as eye candy on the sidelines.
The Packers tried that to a degree in the early-to-mid 1980s after their Green Bay Sideliners were given more provocative garb, including go-go boots and short shorts.
“They were attractive,” said Bob Harlan, the club’s president before his retirement in 2007. “We dressed them not daringly, but they were fancier than the college cheerleaders, obviously. We did change their outfits as the seasons went along.
“We didn’t think we could compete with the Cowboys, but we thought we wanted to at least try to add some atmosphere. Our fans let us know they didn’t want us to be parading girls out there looking like the Dallas cheerleaders. And that was never our intention.”
It’s possible, according to Harlan, that the Packers still could have an official squad were it not for the internal bickering that led to disbandment of the Sideliners after the 1986 season.
“It might have been the type of program we might have kept in existence and maybe turned over to our marketing department,” Harlan said.
Shirley Van, the cheerleading director who ran a dance studio in Green Bay, and many team members came to be at each other’s throats.
“The relationship was getting worse by the day,” Harlan said. “It just was not worth keeping. So we finally just shut it down.”
At the same time, the front office deep-sixed the career of Packy Packer, who had a brief stint as the club’s official mascot.
In January 1989, Harlan and staffers met with three groups seeking approval to resurrect a cheerleading team. The Packers told them no, and it became a dead issue after that.
In an informal locker-room poll Friday, four players favored the status quo while three preferred a return to official cheerleaders.
“I think our fans are unique in that they don’t need a big circus atmosphere,” said tight end Ryan Taylor. “Because they’re football purists and enjoy the game as is.
“I don’t know that it would add anything. There are other teams that want to put on more of a show, I suppose, because they’re worried about selling tickets. There’s another team in our division that feels it has to put on a show.”
Taylor had to be referring to Minnesota because Chicago and Detroit don’t have cheerleaders.
Cornerbacks Tramon Williams and Micah Hyde plus defensive end Datone Jones enjoy game day as is in the NFL’s smallest city.
“I thought those were our pro cheerleaders, I really did,” Jones said. “When I’m out there I’m not really engaged with the cheerleaders. But I saw tradition and love the way the whole atmosphere is.”
On the other hand, some players think professional cheerleading would play well at Lambeau Field.
“I would definitely like to see it go down to five with Green Bay adding a team, yes,” said quarterback Aaron Rodgers. “I think it’d be great.
“Take the last home game, for example. They showed a couple cheese bikini-clad women in the stands and the fans went nuts. The ‘Bikini Girls’ in general, I don’t know if they’ve shown pictures of them yet on the Jumbotron, but they’re a big hit.
“I’m all for it. No offense to the (college) girls. They do a great job.”
Defensive end B.J. Raji said he was “shocked” upon arrival in 2009 to find out the Packers had no official cheerleading squad, something he regards as “synonymous with the game of football.”
Raji and tight end Andrew Quarless said a more sleek approach to cheerleading would only enhance the experience for fans.
“First of all, it would give some females job opportunities in the area,” said Quarless. “I think it would make it feel more NFL-like.
“Not to say that they don’t do a great job. They do, and they do it for nothing.”
The Packers began using cheerleaders from city high schools as early as 1931. Under Vince Lombardi, the Packers started their first official squad in the late 1950s, and the name went from Packerettes to Golden Girls, and then back to Packerettes.
Meanwhile, the Cowboys and general manager Tex Schramm debuted their cheerleaders in 1972. It brought sex appeal and jazz dancing to the sidelines, and shortly thereafter many teams began to follow suit.
Today, 10 of the 26 teams with cheerleaders have names for their squads, from “Jills” in Buffalo to “Saintsations” in New Orleans and “Sea Gals” in Seattle.
Murphy indicated that some teams benefit significantly from the allure of their cheerleaders by increased page hits on their web sites to sales of swimsuit and even lingerie calendars.
“Not to be critical of anybody,” said Murphy, “but you look at what some of the other teams do with their cheerleaders and I just don’t think we’d feel comfortable doing some of those things.
“I have heard complaints about our cheerleaders: ‘What do they bring? Why don’t we get modern cheerleaders? Look at all the other teams and how they use them.’
“But more (fans) say this really fits in our image in Green Bay and what we want to portray.”
Five NFL teams besides the Green Bay Packers have no official cheerleading squads. All six teams are in cold-weather locations. The only dome team is Detroit. Cleveland, which joined the NFL in 1950, is the least tenured of the franchises.
CHICAGO: The Bears have no cheerleaders. In the late 1970s to early 1980s, they had a unit called the “Honey Bears.”
CLEVELAND: The Browns have no cheerleaders and new owner Jimmy Haslam is against ever having them. Owner Art Modell experimented with cheerleaders way back, but the cavernous size of old Cleveland Stadium and the extreme cold ended that.
“We had them one year,” Pat Modell, his wife, once said. “They looked crazy. It was ridiculous.”
In recent years the Browns tried high school cheerleaders but the practice was discontinued by Haslam.
DETROIT: The Lions had a traditional squad at Tiger Stadium in the 1960s, and then used different high school troupes during its stay at the Pontiac Silverdome from 1975-2001. They have had no cheerleaders at Ford Field.
NEW YORK GIANTS: Other than a brief trial in the early 1960s, the Giants haven’t had cheerleaders.
“Philosophically, we have always had issues with sending scantily clad women out on the field to entertain our fans,” Giants co-owner John Mara told the New York Times in 2010.
He added: “Some teams are comfortable with not only having cheerleaders but selling cheerleader swimsuit calendars or, in a couple cases, lingerie calendars. It’s not something you’re going to see the Giants do. Not while I’m around, anyway.”
PITTSBURGH: Other than a four- or five-year period in the late 1950s when cheerleading squads from Robert Morris University appeared at games, the Steelers have not had cheerleaders.
Sept 30, 2013
A new season for the Philadelphia Eagles always brings back bitter-fun memories of my friend Cheryl Frey.
We danced together as cheerleaders on the sidelines of Eagles games in their 1979-80 season. NFL cheerleaders were still a novelty at the time. Eagles fans dubbed their pom-pommers the “Liberty Belles.”
One could always count on Cheryl for a laugh in between twirls, kicks and flashes of white and kelly green. Mischief should have been her middle name. When not joking or waving to the guys seated in the end-zones, Cheryl teased her teammates. I remember her holding her pom-poms under her nose and calling out “Get a load of Mary Poppins!” referring to one of our seemingly wholesome teammates, who, rumor had it, was fooling around with one of the Phillies.
Eagles’ fans undoubtedly fancied blue-eyed, blond-haired Cheryl and her Farrah Fawcett tresses. Two out of the four newspapers circulating in Philly back in those days — the Philadelphia Evening Bulletin and the Philadelphia Journal — ran promotional contests in which readers voted for their favorite Liberty Belle. Cheryl won each contest by a landslide.
Hard work, hard play
Being a dancing glamor girl was not always that glamorous. I can still hear our coach, Sharon Sweeney, screeching “SHAAAKE IT!” as she drilled dance routines into our well-coifed heads during long practices on the concrete floors of a Veterans Stadium hallway.
We shook our way to Tampa Bay for the NFC Divisional Playoff courtesy of Coach Dick Vermeil and his coaching staff, the talented team led by quarterback Ron Jaworski, and Eagles’ owner the late Leonard Tose. We cheerleaders were a pet project of Tose’s then girlfriend and later wife, Caroline Cullum (currently Mrs. Sidney Kimmel — as in Kimmel Center). Ever the generous gent, Mr. Tose picked up the tab for airfare and hotel accommodations in Tampa for 40 cheerleaders so that we could decorate the sidelines and perform dance routines at the game.
The Bucs beat the Eagles 24-17. That did not stop a “Hey, Hey Tampa Bay” fanatic from throwing a few oranges at our squad from the stands. And they talk about Eagles fans!
All good things …
Being a Liberty Belle lost its appeal for me after Cheryl died on Jan. 10, 1980. Cheryl’s husband Scott had a nickname for the Buffalo, N.Y., native that proved to be prophetic. “Life in the fast lane Frey” died in the wee hours of the morning when her car slammed into a tractor trailer as she drove on the wrong side of a major highway in Chester County. It was a tragic end to a night on the town at Philadelphia hotspot Elan, in the Warwick Hotel.
If Cheryl and I had cavorted together that evening, she might have stayed overnight in my Center City apartment, as she did on other occasions. Plus, the fans’ favorite might have danced with us at Super Bowl XV the following January when the Birds played the Oakland Raiders at the Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans. The Big Easy is Cheryl’s kind of town.
Sideline entertainers hardly hold a place in NFL or Philadelphia Eagles history. Still, this chapter starring my deceased cheerleading chum and her joie de vivre is one that I’ll not forget.
Jessica Guzman and her daughters to perform in Rams halftime show
Sports jerseys, baseball caps and photos adorn the walls of the Guzman family’s game room, but their most prized piece of sports memorabilia may well be the photo of Jessica Guzman, a Camarillo mother of three.
In the framed photo, Guzman (no relation to the reporter) is a bubbly 20-year-old football cheerleader dressed in a formfitting blue and gold uniform. The year is 1994—the Rams’ last year in Los Angeles before their move to St. Louis—and the first year the Camarillo native was part of the cheerleading team.
The Rio Mesa grad had auditioned for the Rams on a whim after she was turned down by the San Francisco 49ers. She was a dancer and thought being a professional cheerleader would be fun and give her the opportunity to earn some extra money.
Between practices, she worked as a bank teller and dance coach at Thousand Oaks High School.
“I didn’t make much money; it was more of an honor,” said Guzman, 39.
“When we would cheer, we had some paid appearances at charity events, and I also worked for the Rams organization by scheduling all the cheer appearances.”
The following year, Guzman moved to Missouri. She was the only Los Angeles cheerleader to follow the team to the Midwest. It seemed like an exciting opportunity at the time, but it was tough being away from her family and her hometown.
In fact, she missed her family in California so much, she left the team after a year in St. Louis.
She moved home, met the man who would soon become her husband and went back into banking. She now works as the vice president of operations at CFC Mortgage, where she manages a staff of 20 people in Ventura County.
But the photos hanging in her home remind her of the days of Sunday night football, televised games and roaring crowds.
Guzman has had a few opportunities to dust off her pompoms as part of the Rams’ annual “Cheer for the Cure” event, a four-year-old program that has alumni cheerleaders performing a routine during the game’s halftime show.
And she brings her family with her to St. Louis. Her two daughters join her for the halftime performance.
Kaylee Guzman, 15, is a sophomore at Adolfo Camarillo High School, and her 11-year-old sister, Kira, is a sixth-grader at Los Primeros.
Both girls are dancers, and Kaylee is a junior varsity cheer captain at Camarillo High.
The family has been practicing a seven-minute routine all week that Guzman and her daughters will perform with about 60 other alumni and youth cheerleaders in front of 60,000 people during the Rams’ Oct. 6 game against the Jacksonville Jaguars in the Edward Jones Dome.
The annual performance helps the National Football League raise money for breast cancer research in recognition of breast cancer awareness month in October, during which players wear pink on the field.
Guzman said the alumni event, in which the family will participate for the third year, allows her to perform with her daughters.
“Dancing was my thing, but when you become a mom you don’t get those same opportunities to go out and perform,” she said.
Kaylee said it’s fun being able to perform alongside her mom and see a side of her that she’s only imagined from old photos.
“I look up to my mom,” she said.
The teen will cheer during Camarillo High’s junior varsity football game tonight and take the red-eye flight to Missouri with her father to join her mother, sister and 12-year-old brother, Kai.
The girls will practice their routine on Saturday before Sunday’s game, when the two generations will help Cheer for the Cure.
Wow oh wow. Such a great peek into the history of this team, served up with a heaping dose of early 80s fashion. The kerchiefs. The legwarmers. Teri Hatcher.
If I hadn’t seen it with my own eyes, I could’ve never imagined a pro cheerleader with a mullet. If you had suggested such a thing even ten minutes ago, I would’ve told you to shut your mouth. And yet…there she is. Awesome.
Dan Eddy is a life-of-the-party sort. And one of his favorite stunts at a gathering is to pull three attractive women on center stage with him and challenge the crowd to guess which one is a former Dallas Cowboys cheerleader.
After drawing out the fun for a while, it comes time for the big reveal. With great fanfare, he asks the former Cowboys cheerleader to raise a hand.
And then he raises his own.
Well, you can imagine the groans. And, really, don’t try to picture 66-year-old Dan in a blue halter and short-shorts. Please.
But it’s a fact. He’s an actual, honest-to-goodness former Dallas Cowboys cheerleader. Just not of the era — or curvature — we all think of now.
So today, as the Cowboys open another season, let’s visit a forgotten chapter of team history.
Over the last 40 years, the image of what a Dallas Cowboys cheerleader looks like has been seared into our psyche. So much so that I just about guarantee you could win this bar bet:
“Five dollars says you can’t name the former Dallas Cowboys cheerleader elected to public office nine times in Dallas County and considered one of the best public officials ever to serve the area.”
The answer: former state Rep. and Dallas County Judge Lee Jackson. “My deepest, darkest secret,” he jokes.
The reserved, soft-spoken Jackson is now chancellor of the University of North Texas System — and is about as far removed from our image of a Dallas Cowboys cheerleader as is humanly possible.
“People who know me as an adult find it hard to believe I spent that much time raising my voice,” Jackson said. “But you can yell for a football team and still be a quiet person.”
This was back in the mid-1960s, when the Cowboys recruited cheerleaders from high school squads around town. And back when it was common for boys to be on those squads.
Jackson was a cheerleader at Kimball High School in Oak Cliff and was a Cowboys cheerleader for the 1965 and ’66 seasons.
Eddy was a cheerleader at Adamson High School, also in Oak Cliff, and was on the Cowboys squad in 1963 — the first year guys were included, he said.
Archival photos on the DallasCowboysCheerleaders.com website don’t show the boys that year. But they’re in the squad photos from 1964 through 1969. In the 1970 photo, go-go boots and a sexier pose show up. And by ’72, the iconic Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders look was in place.
Eddy said Cowboys games in 1963 were nothing like today. “The stadium back then was, at best, about a third filled,” he said. And that was the Cotton Bowl in Fair Park, of course.
He said the cheerleaders got $15 and three tickets for each game. “More than once, I hocked my tickets before the game,” Eddy said. “Seems like face value was $8.50, but I could only get four or five bucks.”
In one of the few televised games, he managed to embarrass himself. “I tried a front flip right in front of the camera and landed right square on my butt,” he said. “I was red-faced for about 2½ years from pure humiliation.”
By the 1965 season, when Jackson joined the cheerleaders, the Cowboys were winning and drawing big crowds. But the cheerleaders were almost invisible on the sidelines, he said.
“All we had were our little high school cheers. And people at a pro game weren’t going to say ‘Go! Fight! Win!’ on command,” Jackson said.
“Like a rotary-dial phone, it all seems so quaint and old-fashioned now,” he said. “But I have nothing but fond memories. It was just fun.”
Eddy, too, has great memories of his year as a Dallas Cowboys cheerleader — even if few others remember that men were ever there. He said, “Even the emails I get now from the cheerleaders alumni association start out: ‘Hey, Ladies.’”
But he always reads those emails carefully. “I’m still watching for the first All Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders sleepover,” he deadpanned. “I don’t want to miss that.”
A couple of weeks ago, we posted a news story about the upcoming reunion of almost 30 years of Indianapolis Colts Cheerleaders at the Colts preseason game on Saturday, August 24th. Now alumni Colts Cheerleader Stephanie H has send us some terrific photos of the weekend’s activities.
Side note: the Colts were the VERY FIRST team in the NFL to have cheerleaders. Granted, they were the Baltimore Colts back then, but if you ask me, they can still claim those bragging rights.
So I was perusing the news the other day, and came across as story about a local dance studio in Northern California, whose students will we performing halftime at a local university. The studio is Dance Academy USA,which is under the artistic direction of one Jane Carter.
Jane Carter…Jane Carter…Jane Carter…I know I know something about Jane Carter. But what is it?
DUDE! That’s Jessie’s mom!
And then it all came back to me. All about Jessie’s mom, and everything Jessie told me a few months ago, and how this is THE GREATEST mother/daughter story to hit Ultimate Cheerleaders EVER. Y’all know how I am always on the hunt for twins/sisters/mother-daughter combos for our “relatives” page. My only excuse for forgetting about this is I am easily distracted and somebody must’ve waved a shiny object in front of my face.
First let’s start with Jessie. Such a sweet girl, that Jessie. Nice in a completely non-annoying way. She looks all intimidating in this photo. Soooo not her personality.
Jessie danced for the Los Angeles Clippers for two seasons (2008-2010).
Then she was with the Charger Grls for a season (2010-11).
After a season off to focus on school, Jessie got itch to get out there again. She had a little over a year before graduating from college, and decided she wanted to experience dance team at the college level. So she auditioned for, and was selected to the world famous Song Girls from the University of Southern California. That’s something new. A college dance team with an NFL/NBA alum in the ranks.
She was on that team last year (2012-13). There’s no telling where she’ll turn up next, but I am convinced she’s not finished dancing. It’s in her blood.
Which brings me to Jessie’s mom, Jane. As I mentioned above, Jane is the Artistic Director of Dance Academy USA. In addition to Jessie, Jane, and her husband Jim have two other daughters; Jamie and Jodie. Jane, Jim, Jessie, Jamie, and Jodie. I’ve seen pictures of the five of them together, and they look like the photo that comes with the frame.
Jim, I am informed, is the only one who can’t dance. Not even a little.
I’m keeping my eye out for Jamie and Jodie.
But back to Jane. This was Jane back in the day:
Like her daughter, Jane, also danced for both the NBA and the NFL. However, it was not for the Clippers and the Chargers. Jane was a Northern California girl, so her experience centered around that area. She started off with the San Jose State Spectrum Dance team in 1983-84. (To this day, Spectrum alumni are consistently selected for the NFL, NBA, and AFL.) A year later, she became a Golden State Warrior Girl.
She performed with that team for two years before spending a year with the San Francisco 49ers Gold Rush.
After that, she retired from her career as a pro sports entertainer and opened Dance Academy USA. A couple years later, little Jessie was born, and the rest is history.
These days Dance Academy USA keeps Jane plenty busy. It’s one of the largest. most successful studios in the region. They have 40 instructors, and over 1600 students. They teach hundreds of classes each week. Successful? You better believe it.
But back in the day, it was glam all the way. I have so many questions for Jane about what it was like back then, but if I sit down to figure them all out, this post will go on the shelf yet again. So for now, let’s enjoy the pics. Many thanks to Jessie for all the photos of her mommy
Sidebar: if you know of any sisters, cousins, moms and daughters, to add to the list. Let me know at sasha (at) procheerleaderblog.com
The Beaumont-Enterprise has a fantastic gallery of the Houston Oilers and Houston Texans Cheerleaders. It’s like the universe took one look at me this morning, and decided I needed a little pick-me-up.
But I have to ask, what’s up with the black and white photos? It’s not like color photography was invented in 1984.
Thanks to the vigilant fans at the DCC Yahoo Group, word is out that you can now purchase both Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders made-for-tv movies on DVD. [click here]
Insert the usual disclaimer here: I’ve never purchased anything from this website, so I cannot speak to it’s legitimacy. But it’s only $32 for both movies, so if they take your money and run, it won’t take them much farther than across town.
I haven’t seen these movies in ten years or more, but I will give you the synopses, as I remember them. Keep in mind that although I love this kind of stuff, I am a card-carrying member of the UFPS (the United Federation of Professional Snarkers) and am duty-bound to represent the membership to the best of my ability.
Movie #1 first aired in January of 1979.
This movie is about aspiring DCCs going through the audition process and making it through to the first game. This is the movie with Jane Seymour and Lauren Tewes (Julie from “The Love Boat.”) There’s a million story lines here. There’s the reporter sent to write an expose on the team (that’s Jane), the former runaway who’s trying to put the past behind her and BE SOMEBODY (that’s Lauren), the shy housewife whose husband is way more into her making the team than she is (creeper!), and the aspiring starlette who wants to use the DCC as a stepping stone to Hollywood.
Guess which one doesn’t make the team?
The story also focuses on a veteran cheerleader who is all angsty about earning her spot back. If I recall correctly, she goes so far as to show up at the director’s office like “Oh ma gawd, I would just DIE if I don’t make the team again.” (Have some pride, woman!) And on top of that, she goes skulking around the stadium during the open call, to see “how many pretty ones there are.” She reeks of desperation.
Meanwhile she is being pursued by a guy who is trying out for the Cowboys football team. His best days are probably behind him, but he could make the team. And you know what will happen if he does. No
Most of the actresses in this movie couldn’t dance if were getting paid to do it. I mean that literally. They were getting paid to do it, and they could. Not. Dance. (Not as bad as Tina Yothers in the Laker Girls movie, but not much better than that either.) Jane Seymour had some classical ballet trainig, so she had some rhythm at least, but the others were a completely lost cause.) This is why there’s barely two seconds of any of them dancing with the group. But that’s part of what makes it fun. (Sidebar: did you know Jane Seymour’s birth nane was Joyce Penelope Willomena Frankenburger? No really. She changed it when she was in her late teens.)
The most famous cheerleaders from that era are all in the movie, and they do the heavy lifting when it comes to the choreography. I’m sure you’re all familiar with Tammy, the girl with the long blonde ponytails on either side of her head.
If I ever met Tammy in real life, I’d want to ask her if she regretted that ponytail thing. I mean, it made her instantly recognizable, but having worn my hair like that on many occasions as a child, I know she must have had couple of real sore spots on her head after those home games.
Thinking about this movie leads to an inevitable comparison with Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders: Making the Team. Makes me wonder when they started the training camp thing, because they for sure were not doing that in 1979. No boot camp, no swimsuit calendar, no jump splits, either. I wonder when they picked up those jump splits? I’m pretty sure that started with the Kilgore Rangerettes. Somewhere along the way, the DCC choreographer caught wind of that and was like “ok, we’re doing that now.”
Oops. Off topic again.
Movie #2 aired in January of 1980
It doesn’t have any famous people in it. I think they tried to get actresses who could actually dance this time. In this sequel, the Cheerleaders are in the midst of preparing for a big Super Bowl performance, when some famous character acter from that period shows up in a fake army uniform and says Uncle Sam needs to take the Cheerleaders on tour. Only he can’t take all of them, so they have to audition to see who goes. And by the way, they have to leave in a week. More Angst!
Tammy-with-the-ponytails takes the spotlight again because she SO wants to go on this trip to Japan and meet up with her brother who is stationed there. “Please, Mr. Important Army man, can’t we visit my brother? Pleeeeaaase?” (Maybe it was her boyfriend, not her brother. I don’t remember.)
She also appears in one scene sans-ponytails. I wonder if she had to negotiate for that?
Besides that, there is a sub plot involving cheerleader having an intense inner struggle about whether to go to med school or marry her man, quit cheerleading, or all of the above. Somethings like that. The
In addition to that, there’s another sub plot where a DCC who is a pediatric nurse by day struggles to stay emotionally distant from her young charges. An over-involved doctor pulls her aside to tell her that she needs to soften up a little. (Condescending jackass.) What he doesn’t understand is it isn’t that she doesn‘t care, it’s that she cares too much. (snort) That’s why she wears her professionalism like a suit of armor. (Or some crap like that). Eventually she – in a moment of spontaneity – promises one of her patients (Hannah, with the big sad eyes) that she’ll bring her teammates over to the hospital for a performance. When she gets around to checking with DCC Director, she is reminded that oh yeah, they’re busy with Super Bowl. And the trip to Japan, or wherever it is they’re going. So instead of going back to the hospital and telling the kids they’re out of luck, she gives her teammates a sob story and they volunteer to do the performance on their own time. (They don’t show the sob story part, but I’m pretty sure that’s how it went down. It probably started like this “OMG, y’all. I am so, so screwed…”) The movie ends with a rousing DCC performance at the hospital. Hannah with the Big Sad Eyes learns to smile again.
Meanwhile, Tammy is chosen for the Japan tour and her boyfriend/brother is assigned to the group as an official tour liaison. (How convenient) They didn’t show the trip to Japan. I think it was one of those
I may have to buy these movies myself, if only to see how (in)accurate I was. And to marvel at those shorts. I bet those 1979 shorts look like culottes compared to the current DCC uniform. And I distinctly
For what it’s worth, I definitely did not make up the theme song. I remember that song like yesterday.
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