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Picture a Dallas Cowboys cheerleader — then get ready to be thrown a curve

Steve Blow
Dallas News
September 7, 2013

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.”

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