It started simply enough: one tryout, 100 women, five judges.
Thank you for coming; we'll contact you if we're interested, the
judges told each contestant. One week later seven women received
a handwritten note marked SPECIAL DELIVERY:
Congratulations! Our first rehearsal is Monday (July 17) at 5:30
at Texie Waterman's dance studio....
The year was 1972, and unbeknownst to anyone, a phenomenon had
begun. The Dallas Cowboys had just completed a successful season
that included their second straight Super Bowl appearance.
Cowboys president and general manager Tex Schramm wanted to take
advantage of the spotlight that the team was enjoying. He
understood that football wasn't only about X's and O's; it was
also about entertainment. What better way to entertain men than
with beautiful, dancing women in halter tops, short shorts and
go-go boots? Make no mistake, though, from Day One there were
rules for the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders: no jewelry, no gum,
no dating the players. "These were the Tom Landry days, and he
was a very respected and classy man," says one of those original
seven, Dixie Smith Luque. "We were expected to uphold that class."
That first roster read like a potpourri of Southern belles: Anna
Marie, Carrie, Deanovoy, Dixie, Dolores, Rosy and Vonciel. No one
knew quite what to expect. When Rosy Hall arrived at the
audition, she thought she was trying out for a new dance squad
with her instructor, Texie Waterman, who had been hired by the
Cowboys to choreograph the cheerleading routines. "A cheerleader?
I was married and had a baby," says Hall, older sister of model
Jerry Hall, Mick Jagger's wife from 1990 to '99. "I thought I was
Little did Hall & Co. suspect that what seemed like child's play
would become a national craze. Over the ensuing 29 years
America's Sweethearts have made numerous television appearances
(on shows like The Love Boat and the Osmonds' specials), starred
in two TV movies in the late '70s (creatively titled Dallas
Cowboys Cheerleaders and Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders II) and
performed at U.S. military bases throughout the world. Today more
than 600 women a year vie for one of the 32 to 36 spots on the
squad; returning members must audition as well. Tryouts include a
dance performance, a talent presentation, a personal interview
and a written exam on current events, football facts and Dallas
Three decades later the original cheerleaders are revisiting
their 15 minutes of fame. Earlier this month they gathered at the
Dallas Cowboys' cheerleading dance studio for an SI photo shoot
and were quickly harkening back to their days on the sideline,
rooting for Dallas heroes like Roger Staubach and Bob Lilly. As I
Will Survive blared over the sound system, old pals Baker and
Hall shared private jokes and again became teenage gigglers,
provoking a half-joking reprimand from Kelli McGonagill Finglass,
the team's current cheerleading director. After all, this is
still serious business.
Two of the original seven were missing from the shoot. Dolores
McAda died in 1975. Deanovoy Nichols, who is single and is a
customer-service supervisor for a telephone company, had to
cancel her trip to Dallas for the photo when her Houston home was
badly damaged by flooding from tropical storm Allison.
"We all have separate lives now," says Luque, "but that close
feeling will always be there." With that, the camera lights
flashed and five women smiled their famous smiles.
--Kristin Green Morse
Age 47; regional sales manager for a manufacturer of lighting
and home decor and owner of a bed and breakfast; lives in Dallas
"I wanted to be the quarterback of the Dallas Cowboys," says
O'Brien, who is single with a 27-year-old daughter, Katy, and
whose identical twin sister, Sherie, made the squad in 1973.
"Our choreographer used to yell down at me with her megaphone,
'Pay attention, Carrie.' I wanted so badly to call the plays."
"I don't tell my age"; flight attendant for Southwest Airlines;
lives in Dallas
"I once made Tom Landry laugh during a game," says Baker, who has
one son (Kini, 25) and holds the record for number of years on
the squad, with eight. "Somebody did something really stupid on
the field, and I looked over at Coach Landry and cracked a smile.
He just shook his head and laughed."
Dixie Smith Luque
Age 47; real estate agent; lives in Plano, Texas
"It took off like nobody's business," says Luque, the married
mother of 20-year-old son Chase. Luque, who used to commute four
hours by car from Southwest Texas University to attend practices
and games, remembers that "inside a month, fans were waiting at
the ramp with roses, wanting our autographs. It took all of us by
Age 47; actress, model and clothing designer; lives in London
"There was this feeling of being in the boys' locker room," says
Hall, the divorced mother of grown daughters Misty and Daphne,
of her year on the Texas Stadium sideline. "It was really
unusual to have this large crowd of people screaming, so excited
and whipped into a frenzy. It was quite fun, but you were
slightly aware of sexual exploitation."
Anna Marie Carpenter Lee
"A lady who will tell her age will tell everything"; wife and
mother of Matthew, 17, and Britton, 12; lives in Tyler, Texas
"I used to tease my friends and say, 'I'm working my way through
college,'" says Lee, who attended TCU during her two years on the
squad and currently helps her husband with his video production
company. " We got paid $15 per game."
Age 49; customer service supervisor for a long-distance phone
company; lives in Houston