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,
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
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.
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.
has been reported that just prior to the Super
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.