‘Women in History’ Month: Kay Lang, Dallas Cowboys’ First Female Employee
We are celebrating ‘Women in History’ Month during March by highlighting the contributions of female Dallas Cowboys employees who have broken barriers and blazed new trails during their time in the NFL.
Over the course of compiling a list of impressive accomplishments by women throughout Cowboys’ history, our Chief of Human Resources, Heidi Weingartner, posed this question: “Who was the first female employee of the Cowboys?”
To be honest, the answer took some research. When the Cowboys played their first NFL season as an expansion team in 1960, the league was known more as a good old boys’ club, to be sure. Were there any female staffers when the Cowboys were a start-up franchise?
The answer was found by Sharese Crow of our Human Resources Department who, in a prior life, must have been a detective or clinical researcher. Sharese found a copy of the Cowboys’ 1960 Media Guide and started investigating.
Turns out, Page 1 of the very first guide in team history is the “Dallas Cowboys Club Directory” that, along with the members of the Board of Directors, lists the names of the team’s 14 staff members. The list is a “who’s who” of some of the most legendary names in franchise history including:
- Clint W. Murchison Jr., Team President
- Texas E. Schramm, Vice-President & General Manager
- Bedford S. Wynne, Secretary/Treasurer
- Gil Brandt, Player Scouting Director
- Tom Landry, Head Coach
And…the lone female on the list…
- Kay Lang Dunne, Ticket Manager
Kay ran the Cowboys’ ticket office for 26 seasons. Kay was later joined on the staff by her sister, Marge Lang Kelley, who was Tom Landry’s personal secretary for 18 years. Kay retired following the 1985 season. The Lang sisters’ journey from their hometown of Minneapolis to Dallas was circuitous and fun-filled. They both were top-notch ice skaters who traveled the country as performers with the Ice Follies. The highlight of Kay’s time on the ice was getting cast in an MGM Studios movie starring Jimmy Stewart & Joan Crawford. Three years into her ice skating career, Kay broke her arm and decided to move back home to Minneapolis where she got a job as a secretary at Continental Airlines. When her boss left the airline to take a job in Los Angeles at Lockheed Martin, he and his wife convinced Kay to move to California to work for the aircraft manufacturer. Kay still enjoyed skating, however, and would spend weekends at the Pan Pacific Audition in Los Angeles on the ice.
That’s when fate stepped-in.
That’s when fate stepped-in.
Here’s the story from The Dallas Morning News on June 19, 2008:
“One day the owner of the ice skating rink asked if Kay would like a ‘part-time’ job with a professional football club that was moving from Cleveland to Los Angeles. ‘Sure’, she said, ‘Why not’. That club was then the Los Angeles Rams and that ‘part-time’ job last for 14 years. Soon after she started with the Rams, they hired Tex Schramm to be their Director of Publicity….
“In 1960, when Clint Murchison, Jr., was awarded the NFL franchise for Dallas, he hired Tex to be his general manager…Tex called Kay’s boss in L.A. asking if he could ‘borrow’ her for a few weeks to set up the ticket department for the new Dallas franchise. Well, this ‘borrowing’ lasted for 25 years as Tex convinced her to move to Dallas when she stayed until her retirement in 1985.”
Kay passed away from lung cancer in 2008 at the age of 89. The above-listed story from The Dallas Morning News was actually part of her obituary, but you can find other fun stories about Kay from earlier features in the newspaper.
Here are some samples:
- “Ms. Lang was a devoted Cowboys fan, she drove a Cowboy-blue Chevrolet Corvair with a personalized license plate, NFL 1,” is one entry from the Dallas Morning News.
- “Katherine ‘Kay’ Lang was often the center of attention during the Dallas Cowboys’ first 25 years, especially as big home games drew near. In December 1966, Ms. Lang prepared plans to dispense the 75,000-plus $10 tickets to the Cowboys’ National Football League Championship Game with the Green Bay Packers on January 1 in the Cotton Bowl. ‘I’m turning down all proposals of marriage until Janaury 2’, she quipped.”
- “By 1966, Ms. Lang was being offered bribes for game tickets — but held her ground. ‘One guy offered me a $350a-month apartment, rent-free for six months, if I would get him four between the 20s,’ she told The Dallas Morning News’ Gary Cartwright in September 1966.
One of the last lines of her obituary is very telling of the kind of woman who blazed the trail for those of us who followed in her footsteps by making the Cowboys/NFL our careers:
“Kay always said, ‘Whenever my time comes, I have no regrets. I have had a wonderful life with super friends, co-workers and loyal and caring neighbors and wouldn’t change a minute of my life’.”
My, how times have changed since Kay joined the team in 1960. She was the only female listed among the 14 names in the first Staff Directory. Fast forward to our most recent Dallas Cowboys Media guide and the Staff Directory takes up four full pages and lists 139 women!