Phyllis Smith, who starred as Phyllis Vance in 187 episodes of The Office, was once a National Football League cheerleader and even a burlesque dancer.
Born in Missouri, Phyllis got her big break when auditioning for the Municipal Opera of St. Louis, which led to a further audition with NFL side St. Louis Cardinals in the 1970s.
Having successfully been drafted in to join the team, she then moved onto dancing and spent years performing burlesque before her acting debut as recently as 2005.
And although a photo of another cheerleader which many thought to be Phyllis is not in fact her, she has since confirmed that she did indeed work in the NFL.
She told Yahoo when asked how the cheerleading came about: “He (Dad) had season tickets, but how it came about [was] that I auditioned for the Municipal Opera of St. Louis.
“Out of that audition the lady, who was also the choreographer for the St. Louis Cardinal cheerleaders, asked me to audition for the cheerleading squad – and I made it!
“It was just the perfect job for me at the time. I really enjoyed it because I loved football, so I was able to watch the game, dance, and be there and look at the cute guys across the field.
“So it was the triple threat there.”
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Having supplied Yahoo with images of her dancing, she said of the outfits she would wear as a cheerleader: “We had midriff blouses tied up in the front, hot pants, and white boots up to our knees.
“The year I cheered was the second or third year after cheerleaders were first coming into being — the beginning of cheerleading days.
“I think the Dallas Cowboy cheerleaders had been around one year; then we came in around the second year. It was when the Cardinals were still in St. Louis, which is where I am from.”
Fans of The Office, which ran for nine seasons between 2005 and 2013, as well as The OA and Inside Out, have been left baffled after learning of Phyllis’ past on social media.
One Twitter user wrote: “PHYLLIS. SMITH. WAS. AN. NFL. CHEERLEADER. AND. BURLESQUE. DANCER????”
With a second saying: “Phyllis from the office used to be a burlesque performer in Saint Louis. How neat is that?”
And a third adding: “Phyllis from The Office used to be an NFL cheerleader and a Burlesque dancer omg.”