History 

In 1976, Chicago Bears owner George Halas made the decision that he wanted to have professional cheerleaders, or “dancing girls,” as he put it, on the sidelines. The Dallas Cowboys, Washington Redskins and others had highly successful squads and Halas wanted the Bears to have them as well. He put General Manager Jim Finks in charge of getting a Bears cheerleading squad together, and to get it done right away.

Finks checked around, made some calls, and he was given a recommendation for choreographer and former cheerleader named Cathy Core. Core had recently moved to the Chicago area from New Jersey, and had actually never driven into the city as of this time. Core's cheerleading experience at that time consisted of having taught Junior High girls. Someone in Core's church, however, knew Finks, and recommended Core to him as a person that may possibly assemble a new cheerleading unit. Finks gave her a call and started talking to her about forming a cheerleading squad for the Bears. Core thought it was a practical joke being played on her and she hung up the phone. At that point, Finks called the person that recommended her and had them verify the story with Core. Once the proposal was verified, Finks gave Core another call. Core apologized to Finks for hanging up, and that she did not think it was a serious proposition.

Finks arranged a meeting between Core and Halas. George Halas thought Core was a wonderful choice and told her that “As long as I’m alive, we will have dancing girls on the sidelines.” Halas was good on his word and for as long as he was alive there were the Honey Bears on the sidelines of Soldier Field.

Not having ever put together a cheerleading squad before, Core took to the road and traveled across the country, interviewing existing cheerleading squads from other teams in order to learn what it took to put together a successful squad. In a short period of time, and after hours and hours of auditions, twenty eight young women were selected to be the first Chicago Honey Bears.  The Honey Bears were an instant hit in Chicago, and at Soldier Field. In the first year there were more cheers than dances but in response to the fans "Coach Corn or Mama Bear" as the squad lovingly called Cathy Core continued to increase the dance routines over the years.

The job did not pay much, The Honey Bears like other NFL cheerleaders were not in it for the money they were paid a mere $15 a game ($5 for gas, $5 for parking and $5 for uniform cleaning). By 1985 this had increased to $20 a game. However, they were not paid for the two mandatory practices every week. Even with this small salary over 5,000 ladies came out to audition in 1985 the final year of the Honey Bears. Even though they were not paid much to actually cheerlead, they did earn extra money for personal appearances and modeling jobs because of their notoriety as Honey Bears. Many of the women went on to be convention spokes models and some hit it big with their careers. Former Honey Bear Cheryl Burton is now a news anchor on ABC Channel 7 in Chicago.

To the best of our knowledge the Chicago Honey Bears had three different uniforms over their nine seasons. The first style, used from 1977 to1979 was a white body suit with navy blue sleeves. In 1980 instead of the white bodysuit with navy blue sleeves, it was changed to orange sleeves and the navy moved to the trim. This uniform was used through 1984. In 1985 the final year of the Honey Bears the uniform was completely redesigned with an orange sequin vest.

The Honey Bears performed on the sidelines at Soldier Field from 1977 until the end of the 1985 season, when the Bears won the Super Bowl. George Halas had passed away in October of 1983, and the new ownership, basically his daughter Virginia McCaskey, tried to sever the Bears relationship with the Honey Bears. She was unable to legally fire the Honey Bears at that point because the squad had a contract that extended through the 1985 season. The Honey Bears last performance was during the halftime show at Super Bowl XX in New Orleans when they performed to “Baby, I’m a Star” by Prince. The Honey Bears were terminated because of the will of one individual and not the will of the fans.

It has been reported that just prior to the Super Bowl in New Orleans, founder, manager & choreographer Cathy Core (now coach of the Chicago Luvabulls) was informed by Bears management that her group's contract would not be renewed to take the field for their 10th year at Soldier Field. However, we have found several newspaper articles written in the fall of 1985 which indicate the announcement was made months before the Super Bowl. Upon being asked about the situation, Core was quoted as saying, “At the time, they told me it was basically a change in philosophy. The Bears wanted to be about blood-and-guts football and football only. I think there are certain people in the (McCaskey) family who have dominated the negative part of the issue, and as long as those people are still around and still vocal, I don’t think the Honey Bears will come back.” An official reason has never been given by the Bears organization, but it has been said that Virginia McCaskey, the daughter of George Halas, was known to think that cheerleaders were sexist and degrading to women and that inevitably, she was the one who made the final decision.  The Honey Bears were terminated because of the will of one individual and not the will of the fans; at the time fan, polls supported the Honey Bears three to one.

There have been a couple attempts by some people in the Bears organization to bring back the Honey Bears, but to no avail. It is said each time things look promising; Virginia McCaskey eventually nixes the idea. Every time they try, they get the same answer from her. Something along the lines of, ‘As long as I own the Bears, there will never be female cheerleaders on the sidelines’.

Many Chicago Bears fans claim the team lingers under a Honey Bear Curse, given their Bears haven't won a Super Bowl since.


Rosters