Bring It On

Rick Perry, Madonna & More Celebrity Cheerleaders (Photos)

From Rick Perry and Cameron Diaz to Madonna and Paul Rudd, stars who used to be cheerleaders.

Before he became governor of Texas, Rick Perry cheered for Texas A&M University. From Madonna to Paul Rudd, view more stars who were on their school’s cheerleading squads.

Ed Andrieski / AP Photo

Rick Perry

He ain’t just a cowboy: Texas Gov. Rick Perry was an Aggie yell leader during his time at Texas A&M University. Because the student body votes for the yell leaders, it is considered a very prestigious position, with elections often becoming competitive. The official yell-leader website states, "It is not uncommon for more than twice as many students to vote for yell leader candidates than vote in the Student Body President elections.” If his college popularity is any indication of his future success, Perry should be sitting pretty come 2012—he was elected yell leader not once but twice.

Seth Poppel / Yearbook Library

Cameron Diaz

Long before she became a naughty teacher on screen, Cameron Diaz was a cheerleader at Long Beach Polytechnic High School in Long Beach, Calif. But even that wasn’t enough to make up for her awkward phase. In high school, she was so skinny that classmates nicknamed her Skeletor. One former classmate remembered her in this fond way: “She did stick out. But no one worshiped her.”

Seth Poppel / Yearbook Library

Diane Sawyer

Respected news journalist Diane Sawyer is a woman of many talents—and titles. In 1963, she won the America’s Junior Miss pageant, and was a cheerleader at Seneca High School in Louisville, Ky. It seems, however, that her cheerleading career was short-lived. During a fake Twitter feud with Glee’s cheerleading coach, Sue Sylvester, Sawyer sent a tweet indicating that she had actually been cut from the team. [email protected]_SylvesterGLEE it’s on. As a frm rejected Seneca JV wanna-be cheerleader I’ll meet you in the gym—bring the cannon,” she tweeted.

Seth Poppel / Yearbook Library

George W. Bush

One of George W. Bush’s earliest accomplishments was making head cheerleader at Phillips Academy in Andover, Mass. It was a natural fit for the Texan, because, as one of Bush’s classmates recalled, “he was a member of teams, but he never really distinguished himself in sports.” As head cheerleader, Bush orchestrated pep talks and skits, and the school’s dean said that Bush raised school spirit to the highest level he had seen since starting in 1930. When Bush graduated from high school, the future president wasn’t voted most likely to succeed—but he did come in second for big man on campus.

Seth Poppel / Yearbook Library

Katie Couric

So this explains her perpetual perkiness. While growing up in Arlington, Va., Couric was a cheerleader at Yorktown High School. Earlier this year, she grilled cheerleading coach Sue Sylvester on an episode of Glee, but sadly, she only wielded a microphone. Pompoms were nowhere to be found.

Seth Poppel / Yearbook Library

Kelly Ripa

Years before being seated at the right hand of Regis, Kelly Ripa had a typical adolescence in New Jersey. But even being a member of the cheerleading squad didn’t automatically give her a pass with the in crowd. Ripa once described her early years as less than stellar. “Everyone says, ‘You must have been popular.’ But in my high school, you could be made fun of for cheering.”

Seth Poppel / Yearbook Library


Who said you can’t be both a jock and a drama geek? Madonna Louise Ciccone was a straight-A student at Michigan’s Rochester Adams High School, founded her alma mater’s drama club—and did the splits as a member of the cheerleading squad. That’s also where she developed her uncanny ability to shock people. Her cheerleading coach recalled one of Madonna’s early stunts as the cheerleaders were making a pyramid: “When Madonna did her little flip and got up there, it turned out she had nude tights on, and it looked like she wasn't wearing anything under her skirt. I was shocked at first, and the basketball coach was really upset."

Seth Poppel / Yearbook Library

Meryl Streep

There’s no role this woman can’t play. Meryl Streep spent her high-school years honing her dramatic chops and cheering at Bernards High School in Bernardsville, N.J. As one of her classmates recalled, “She was beautiful. Everybody loved to sit there and watch her with her short skirt jumping around. It was great.” 

Seth Poppel / Yearbook Library

Paul Rudd

It seems Paul Rudd was always a daredevil. He was a yell leader in high school, and a childhood friend remembered that Rudd used to persuade the other yell leaders to sneak into cheerleaders’ homes at night to invite them to parties. “It’s the kind of thing that a normal person wouldn’t do. Paul always had no fear of authority,” he said. Rudd continued to impress girls (or try to) when he was in his 20s. He recently told Newsweek about the time he jumped out of a moving car to convince a girl he was hilarious. The stunt failed, but Rudd is the one getting the last laugh.

Seth Poppel / Yearbook Library

Rachael Ray

It should come as no surprise that the very peppy Rachael Ray was a cheerleader for her high school in upstate New York. “I was a darn good one!” she said. “I was the ta-dah cheerleader, the one who climbed to the top of the pyramid and then flipped into the arms of other cheerleaders. And I was also the cheerleader that would run the length of the gym, do a flip, and then end with the splits.” Yeah, well, try to do that while making a perfectly browned apple crisp.

Seth Poppel / Yearbook Library

Steve Martin

The wild and crazy guy had to get those King Tut moves from somewhere. The future comedian was a cheerleader at Garden Grove High School in Southern California. According to a Newsweek interview, he even tried to write his own cheers. One of his typical shouts was: “Die, you gravy-sucking pigs!”