How The Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders Became America's Sweethearts In The '70s

Entertainment | June 21, 2021

The Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders changes sports forever. (Daughters of the Sexual Revolution)

America’s team, the Dallas Cowboys, evoke either endless adoration or complete disdain with very little in between. Like the New York Yankees and the Los Angeles Lakers, the Cowboys attract fans from all over the nation, not just in their home cities. One of the many reasons the Cowboys lure such legions of fans started in 1970 when the team created the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders (DCC). These leggy beauties became the first cheer squad to bring some serious eye candy to go with your game of gridiron. These inaugural Cowboy cheerleaders changed sports forever and opened the eyes of many to provocation in sports along with the dark downside of mixing powerful men and scantily clad bombshells.

The DCC became minor celebrities in their own right. (Getty Images)

A Hint Of Sex With Your Sports?

When the Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders first hit the national stage of “Monday Night Football,” men lost their collective minds. Of course, many other groups also loudly lamented the decision. It’s worth remembering that in the ‘70s, mainstream examples of sexuality were few and far between. Suddenly, seeing these drop-dead gorgeous women dancing about in crop tops, white shorts, and knee-high cowboy boots essentially ranked as the moon landing for sexy women in sports.

The DCCs upped the Cowoys national profile. (People)

Polarizing Cheerleaders

As Dana Adam Shapiro, director of the documentary, “The Untold Story of the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders" put it, “They were equally loved and loathed. They were pinups -- their poster outsold Farrah Fawcett -- and they were also attacked by religious groups and by feminist groups." Former Cowboy cheerleader Candy Evans explained the dichotomy best, "Dallas is a place where the sacred and the profane exist simultaneously, sometimes right across the street from one another."

For the 70's the DCC were downright scandalous. (Dallasmorningnews)

A Changing Of The Guard

If you compare the ‘70s cheerleader outfits to the modern-day examples, they look extremely tame. Nevertheless, those early Cowboy cheerleader outfits basically set America on fire. People either gawked at them like exotic animals on a safari or bemoaned America’s loss of innocence and the vulgarity of their outfits “on a Sunday no less.”

A singular act of one cheerleader epitomizes their explosive popularity, as Joe Nick Patoski, author of "The Dallas Cowboys: The Outrageous History of the Biggest, Loudest, Most Hated, Best Loved Football Team in America," explained. "When one of those cheerleaders winked at the camera, the nation forgot there was a football game going on. This was really 'the wink' that launched the Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders."

“Honey shots” became a staple for television producers, giving fans a shot of dancing cheerleaders with their football. When asked how that particular cameraman came up with “honey shots,” he responded, "Because I am a dirty old man."

Life as a cheerleader isn't as glamorous as it looks. (Pinterest)

The Darkside Of Sex In Sports

Naturally, there were problems with mixing amazingly beautiful women in skimpy outfits on the national stage and within the organization. The women received beyond creepy and downright terrifying messages that included a set of knives wrapped in a Pittsburgh newspaper. The team forced diuretics and amphetamines on them for the "sake of the camera." Owner Jerry Jones would also make cheerleaders attend business meetings and other functions in full uniform. As Cindy Villarreal recalls, "To me it was demeaning. And it appeared that we were treated as bimbos. And I wasn't a bimbo."

Just as deplorable were their pay. Even today, cheerleaders aren’t considered full-time employees even though they work far more than 40 hours a week. As one woman remembered, “Being a Dallas Cowboys cheerleader is a full-time job. Whether it’s rehearsals, calendar shoots, guest appearances, or whatever it is, it is a full-time job. When I was not working or I was not at practice, then I was 90% doing something that was Cowboys related.” Sadly, these issues still remain today. Just recently it was discovered the Washington Football team conducted disgusting practices with their cheerleaders, treating them as less than humans.

Tags: 1970s | 1970s Football | Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders

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Kellar Ellsworth


Kellar Ellsworth was born and raised in Hawaii. He is an avid traveler, surfer and lover of NBA basketball. He wishes he could have grown up in the free love era!