Last fall, Buckingham U. Badger passed his sixtieth birthday — six full decades as the sole official mascot for the UW. That’s a long time to be alone. Why, we wondered, has Bucky never had any feminine companionship?
It turns out, we were wrong to assume he hadn’t. This photo, shot circa 1980, proves that there once was a female badger mascot running around Camp Randall Stadium. Who was this fetching creature in the miniskirt and hair bow?
Her name was Becky Badger, a legendary — some might say mythical — figure on campus. Some say she was Bucky’s girlfriend. Others claim she was his sister. Let’s hope they’re not both right.
One reason for the mystery surrounding Becky Badger’s origins is that she was never an official UW mascot. She was the creation of Madison’s Park Bank. Bob Gorsuch, former president of Park Bank, says that in the 1970s and 1980s, the firm gave away Becky dolls to patrons when they opened new accounts. It also dressed an employee (usually a student) as Becky and sent her out to football games to promote financial services.
Becky quickly caught on. Capital City Comics declared she was “the Campus Mascot for the Seventies” and sold T-shirts with her image. The Wisconsin Alumni Association and the National W Club included her at their official, annual tailgate party, called the Badger Blast, where she received billing right alongside Bucky.
But bank mascots don’t last forever, and Becky disappeared sometime in the 1980s. She’s not entirely gone, though. A mascot-supply company called Facemakers still sells this very costume, keeping alive the legacy — and mystery — of Madison’s Mascot for the Seventies.
Published in the Spring 2010 issue