I love Old Hollywood movies and television shows. There is a class, elegance, a distinct type of storytelling that is usually not seen in today’s movies. While most of the iconic actresses from the era were blonde or brunette, there were a few redheads who stood out.
1. Maureen O’Hara
The late Maureen O’Hara was the physical embodiment of the redhead. Irish, feisty, intelligent and with a very sharp tongue, she was one of the few actresses of the era to successfully break into the boys club action/adventure genre. She held her own on and off the screen with co-stars John Wayne, Tyrone Powers and Anthony Quinn in several movies. She also helped future generations of female performers by stretching the boundaries of what an actress can do on screen.
2. Deborah Kerr
At first glance, one might think that Scottish born Deborah Kerr was the proper British lady. But underneath that mask was a capable actress who played a variety of roles. Her most famous roles are An Affair To Remember (opposite co-star Cary Grant) and From Here To Eternity (opposite Burt Lancaster, where she chopped her hair off, went blonde and spoke with an American accent).
3. Ann-Margret Olsson
To the red-blooded American male in the 1960’s, Ann- Margret was the embodiment of the era. The Swedish born performer is mostly remembered for playing opposite Elvis Presley in several films and the average teenage girl who meets the ultimate teen idol in Bye Bye Birdie. She also has the distinction of being named as the 10th sexist stars in film history in 1995.
4. Myrna Loy
Montana born and raised, Myrna started her career just as Hollywood was transitioning from silent films to talkies. While her initial roles were those of the femme fatale, in the 1930’s she became famous for playing opposite William Powell in the Thin Man movie series as Nora Charles. During the mid-1930s, Loy was so popular that she was named Queen Of The Movies in 1936.
5. Carol Burnett
For many female performers and comedians, Carol Burnett is an icon. Her major breakout role was the in 1959 in Once Upon A Mattress. Between 1967 and 1978, her comedy show, The Carol Burnett Show was one of the most popular shows on the air. In an era when female performers were relegated to supporting roles in other comedy/variety programs, Carol Burnett not only had her name on the title of the show, but she showed how funny women could be.
6. Rita Hayworth
This well-known redhead started off as a dancer and later was noticed in a 1941 film starring James Cagney, The Strawberry Blonde. She soon became the ‘pin-up girl’ for servicemen during the war and became extremely popular after the 1946 film, Gilda. Her character, opposite Glenn Fora, was seductive and glamorous.
7. Susan Hayward
Born in Brooklyn, this iconic redhead scored the first of five Academy Award nominations for Best Actress in Smash-Up, the Story of a Woman, in 1947. She finally won an Academy Award for Best Actress in I Want to Live in 1958, portraying a death row inmate, Barbara Graham.
8. Lucille Ball
Lucille Ball is the definition of a classic redhead. While she may not be a natural born redhead (she was naturally blonde!), she had the fiery personality and wit to rock her red hair –– and I am proud to call her a redhead. I Love Lucy paved the way for many women comedians, both on and off the screen. She proved women were just as capable behind the camera (as she was responsible for creating the show), as they were in front of the camera.
Which redhead actress is your favorite? Rock it like a Redhead!