While the line “blondes have more fun” may have sold countless home hair-color kits to women who longed to get in on the manufactured myth, it also managed to plant a seed of insecurity in those of us born to the blonde mantle — more fun than what? Because if we were having the maximum amount of fun, well, then, uh-oh.
As one of those born blondes who never quite felt that I was living on life’s ultimate fun edge, I’ve always thought that there was certainly a more exciting hair-color existence out there. Not that I’ve ever taken the leap, but I’ve fantasized that life as a redhead would be so very cool. To be one of the few, relatively speaking, with that extraordinary shade — whether copper or carrot, auburn or strawberry — holds a certain kind of allure that being a blonde just can’t match.
Partly, I’m sure, because all the redheads I know of — mostly fictional — exude a kind of indomitable spirit and joie de vivre that is admirable and enviable. While I know that real-life redheads experience all the same ups and downs as the rest of us, these fictional characters are imbued with enough moxie (now there’s a word you don’t hear often), gumption (or that one), and whimsy (and they’re not even blondes) to make me want to join their ranks. To wit:
Lucy Ricardo There’s a reason the Lucy Ricardo character was everyone’s favorite redhead — the absolutely brilliant Lucille Ball. The ability to always get herself in and out of trouble with such hilarity makes for timeless television. It’s why so many of us non-redheads embrace our “Lucy moments,” pratfalls and all. Love her.
Ginger aka “The Movie Star” Her three-hour tour aboard the S.S. Minnow stretched into three seasons on Gilligan’s Island, and Tina Louise’s character never lost an ounce of her screen-siren glamour and sexiness. The professor remained entranced; poor Gilligan was hopelessly captivated; and even the Skipper fell under her spell. Only Mary Ann could share the spotlight.
Gilda You just need to watch Rita Hayworth as the femme fatale Gilda to get it. When she sings “Put the Blame on Mame,” she more than stops the show — she stops the heart of every man in that nightclub. While the fiery, red-headed character may have been Hayworth’s most famous role, the downside, according to her, was that, “Men go to bed with Gilda but wake up with me.” Put the blame on mane.
Pippi Longstocking The unique, unstoppable, and unmatched Pippi is one of my favorite characters of children’s books — probably because the shy little-girl me wished so hard to emulate her fearlessness and sense of adventure. And those unforgettable, untamed, uninhibited red braids — I would have swapped out my blonde locks in a second. I wanted to get into trouble — and I wanted Pippi to show me the way.
No, I haven’t forgotten the boys. There’s the eternally playful, I-won’t-grow-up Peter Pan (totally charming, until you try dating the 35-year-old real-life version). The endlessly adorable Opie (Ron Howard) in The Andy Griffith Show (arguably one of the cutest redheaded kids ever). And, in real life, the utterly irresistible Prince Harry.
Alas, I won’t be flaunting red hair any time soon (it just doesn’t feel like me, sigh) — but I’ll continue to celebrate those who do (with more than a bit of green-eyed envy).
Red carpet, please.
©2021 Claudia Grossman