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Ten Most Beautiful Redheads from the Golden Era of Films

Updated on July 04, 2016
Rita Hayworth
Rita Hayworth | Source

Beautiful Redheads from Classic Movies

Actress
Famous Film
Rita Hayworth
"Gilda" (1946)
Susan Hayward
"I Want to Live" (1958)
Maureen O'Hara
"The Black Swan" (1942)
Deborah Kerr
"An Affair to Remember" (1957)
Greer Garson
"Mrs. Miniver" (1942)
Ann Sheridan
"Angels with Dirty Faces" (1938)
Arlene Dahl
"Journey to the Center of the Earth" (1959)
Piper Laurie
"The Hustler" (1961)
Rhonda Fleming
"A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court" (1959)
Jeanne Crain
"Pinky" (1949)

Rita Hayworth

This woman was so beautiful and exciting that Life Magazine put her on their cover 5 times. In the 40's, Rita, who started out as a dancer, appeared in musicals with both Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly. However, she wanted a dramatic career and after several films as the "other woman", she finally was noticed in a film starring James Cagney, The Strawberry Blonde in 1941 and soon became a much sought after star.

When the war started, Rita, along with Betty Grable became the top "pin-up girl" for service men. This led to a film, Cover Girl starring Gene Kelly that reinforced her celebrity power and she soon became one of the top stars in the world.

The film that took her over the top was Gilda in 1946 opposite Glenn Ford with whom she would make several films. In this movie, she was so seductive, so sensual and so glamorous as the wife of an older man, yet still drawn to a former lover. This film defined her long career which included 61 films.

Susan Hayward

Always one of my favorites, Susan was an outstanding actress receiving five Academy Award nominations. A contender for the most sought after role in film history, Scarlett O'Hara, she was noticed enough in her efforts to get that role that other film roles came her way because of it.

Susan made several real-life films usually of women with problems including her portrayal of Barbara Graham in 1958's I Want to Live about a death row inmate. This film won her the Academy's highest honor for Best Actress.

She also played the true life story of actress, Lillian Roth in 1955's I'll Cry Tomorrow opposite Richard Conte where she imitates Roth's real life alcoholism with perfection. Along the way, she starred with some of Hollywood's heavyweights such as Gary Cooper, John Wayne and Clark Gable.

Maureen O'Hara

Maureen was always noted for her high spirited, hot-tempered performances typical of the legends of redheads. Her most fiery and most famous role was opposite frequent co-star John Wayne in The Quiet Man filmed in Ireland about a tumultuous relationship between she and Wayne. A scene where Wayne drags Maureen across the field is captivating.

She was also very popular for her roles in films such as The Black Swan in 1942 with Tyrone Power, a swashbuckling film on the high seas with Maureen in another spitfire role.

She played in westerns, pirate films, war films and musicals and played her part supremely well. One of the most beautiful women ever.

Deborah Kerr

Deborah was always a very prim and proper lady whose sexuality had to be almost forced from her by her leading men. But, when she let go, she was as sexy as anyone. She brought elegance to her seductive roles and there were many.

She was the Christian tied to the stake in the great arena in Rome awaiting the horns of the bull in Quo Vadis. She was the romantic confined to a wheelchair by an automobile accident that prevented her from keeping a date with her intended lover on top of the Empire State building in An Affair to Remember with Cary Grant. And, she was the bored, unloved housewife of an army captain needing the attention that Burt Lancaster would give her in From Here to Eternity famous for its lovemaking scene on the beach.

Greer Garson

Here is another lady that brought elegance and charm to the screen, but again had her own sexual appeal for the viewing audience. This photo in color does not do her justice. Greer was quite a beautiful woman as shown in the black and white.

Her very first American film was Goodbye Mr. Chips in 1939 which won her the first of seven Academy Award nominations and a win for Best Actor for her co-star, Robert Donat in a brilliant performance for him in a simply wonderful film.

In a similar role in Mrs. Miniver in 1942, she won the Oscar for her performance. She would have five consecutive Oscar nominations in the early 40's. None of her films had her in a seductive role, but she had a certain quality that lent itself to her resounding sexuality nevertheless. Sometimes, one simply can not put one's finger on the reason why.

Greer had a home in Dallas, Texas and when I was a kid working weekends at her local grocery store, I would take deliveries to her high rise apartment. Unfortunately, I never saw her on my visits.

Ann Sheridan

Ann was simply the girl next door with "it". Her voice did it for me. She just came across as so sexy and nice and lovable. She always played the gal that truly loved her man in every sense of the word and was always faithful to him no matter what he had done, or what had happened to him.

Such was the case with James Cagney in Angels With Dirty Faces when she tried to keep him on the straight and narrow. Then, there was Ronald Reagan in King's Row having lost his legs to an inhumane surgeon only to find Ann still by his side.

Ann was just so appealing in every way. Her honesty and sincerely had its own sexuality. Her beauty did not hurt, either.

Ann and I went to the same college in Denton, Texas although years apart.

Arlene Dahl

Arlene was not a great actress, nor a truly popular film star. Everyone knew who she was because of her beauty and her red hair. One of the most beautiful in films, she made movies for over forty years.

Her films were not those that remain with you, nor were they B films. They were mostly simple movies that brought a little entertainment into your life and always a very beautiful Arlene playing her role as well as expected.

After disappearing from films for over 20 years, she made one final film, Night of the Warrior with her son, Lorenzo Lamas in 1991.

Piper Laurie

Piper's first film was opposite Ronald Reagan in Louisa in 1950. She and the former president dated prior to his marriage to Nancy. She made several films throughout the 50's until her departure for stage work and study in New York.

She was brought back to Hollywood to star opposite Paul Newman in The Hustler in 1961 which would bring her an Academy Award nomination for her role as a woman with no vanity, no self importance or feelings of worth. She took herself out of character for this role by losing her beauty and charm to display this modest and defenseless type of woman. She still came across as sexy enough to lure the attentions of George C. Scott.

Piper often went from light cheerful roles to those that depicted her as non-glamorous, or far from the mainstream.

Rhonda Fleming

I love Rhonda Fleming. Not the greatest actress and did not make any earth shattering films, but always memorable with that technicolor hair and beauty. Of all the redheads, Rhonda probably looked best in color whereas the rest looked better in black and white.

She did take part in some good films such as Spellbound, The Spiral Staircase, Out of the Past and Gunfight at the O.K. Corral. She made four films with Ronald Reagan whom she admired greatly.

She appeared in her final film in 1990, Waiting for the Wind.

Jeanne Crain

Jeanne was such a beautiful lady. She had a very tender and sweet face, but could be sexy when the time came and she did so with some of the best, Cary Grant, Frank Sinatra, Dana Andrews, Randolph Scott and Kirk Douglas.

However, the film that Jeanne will always be remembered for is Pinky in 1949. This was a very controversial movie about an African-American woman who passed for white in the north. The performance earned Jeanne an Academy Award nomination. This film did not require any sexual connotations, but Jeanne always looked sexy to me.

She was very high class and still sexy in her role with Sinatra in The Joker Is Wild.

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    • discovery2020 profile image
      Author

      discovery2020 10 months ago from TEXAS

      You might be thinking about Tina Louise in Gilligan's Island.

    • profile image

      Jeremiah 10 months ago

      I'm looking for a movie of a red headed actress stuck on a island and it was in color.

    • discovery2020 profile image
      Author

      discovery2020 17 months ago from TEXAS

      Saw the original, but just don't remember her. Sorry.

    • rjbatty profile image

      rjbatty 17 months ago from Irvine

      I watched "San Francisco" when I was a kid and it sort of terrified me I'm sure by today's standards it would seem tame, but I'll go ahead and re-watch it, and see what my impression is of MacDonald. A pity that so many of these old, great classics are in B&W because we can't appreciate all that wonderful red hair. Question for you: Any impressions about Ann Robinson who starred in the original "War of the Worlds?" I thought she was the cutest little thing. Not a film goddess but still really cute. She also played a grandmother figure in the 2005 Steven Spielberg rendition (I saw the film but didn't recognize her). She may not even qualify as a redhead (more brunette), although I've seen pics of her with a full red crop.

    • discovery2020 profile image
      Author

      discovery2020 17 months ago from TEXAS

      You have to see her with Clark Gable and Spencer Tracy in San Francisco to appreciate her beauty. Old, but ahead of its time.

    • rjbatty profile image

      rjbatty 17 months ago from Irvine

      I don't get the same pulse beat from Jeanette MacDonald. "discovery2020" has been a pathfinder for me on this road of quintessential redheads, but on this point I have to disagree. Just judging by photos, she has a kind of horsy face. That sounds awful, I know, but that's my impression.

    • discovery2020 profile image
      Author

      discovery2020 17 months ago from TEXAS

      Totally agree

    • profile image

      Caroline 17 months ago

      How about Jeanette MacDonald? What a redhead and what a voice!

    • rjbatty profile image

      rjbatty 21 months ago from Irvine

      Wiki describes Romy Schneider death this way: Schneider was found dead in her Paris apartment on May 29, 1982. It was suggested that she had committed suicide by taking a lethal cocktail of alcohol and sleeping pills. After another post-mortem examination was carried out, authorities declared that she had died from cardiac arrest.

      Well, whenever you mix pharmaceuticals with alcohol, it's with great risk. Cardiac arrest doesn't rule out a deliberate act of suicide. If I decide to watch Romy in anything, I'll leave an additional comment.

    • profile image

      discovery2020 21 months ago

      Reminds me of Lauren Bacall. Other than that left very little impression about either her or her films except for the fact that she committed suicide.

      Thanks for asking.

    • rjbatty profile image

      rjbatty 21 months ago from Irvine

      I watched about 15 min. of "Pinky" on YouTube and decided this was good enough for a NetFlix rental. Thanks very much for the referral. I'd never have seen the film without your recommendation, and that would have been my loss. What are your thoughts about Romy Schneider? I may have seen her in "What's New Pussycat," but I have no memory about the film whatsoever. Any recommendations where she is concerned? Any thoughts are appreciated.

    • rjbatty profile image

      rjbatty 22 months ago from Irvine

      For now anyway, "Pinky" is available via YouTube for free. I'll be taking a look.

    • discovery2020 profile image
      Author

      discovery2020 22 months ago from TEXAS

      Well stated and appreciated. I have seen the movies you mentioned several times and enjoyed the splendor of color and the true to life images in "Journey".

      You must see "Pinky" with Crain.

    • rjbatty profile image

      rjbatty 22 months ago from Irvine

      I finally got around to visiting this list. Very nicely done. I'd forgotten about some of these actresses entirely, so you did me a great service by re-acquainting me with them. I'm a mere youngster of 61, so some of these splendors kind of slipped by my consciousness. Prior to cable, the few broadcasting networks used to show older movies -- usually during weekend afternoons. As a kid I kind of suffered through them -- but were voraciously consumed by my mom and older sister. I was too young to understand romance (or much of anything else for that matter). Just as a FYI, my favorite redheads from the golden age are Arlene Dahl and Eleanor Parker. If you haven't watched it, rent "The Naked Jungle" staring Charlton Heston and Eleanor Parker. I'm sure you've already viewed it, but watch it again anyway. Parker is just so beautiful that any shortcomings of the film are irrelevant. I can't even be objective about the film itself because I watch it (over and over) just to ogle her. The same goes for Arlene Dahl in "Journey to the Center of the Earth." I can watch this film endlessly for the performances of James Mason, Dahl, and yes, even Pat Boone. But every scene in which Dahl is involved keeps me riveted. Lastly, reading other comments on this Hub, I'd have to agree that there is some kind of difference between our golden (or redheaded) idols and their modern-day counterparts. I think some part of the difference is due to cinematography. The camera used to treat women in a softer focus (usually). When you look at Vivian Leigh in "Gone With the Wind," even at her supposedly worst moments, she looks like a cookie. With more modern pictures, realism has become supreme. Now, with everything being digitized, every pixel is presented in all of its stark reality. I remember reading that Cameron Diaz was aghast upon seeing one of her pictures in high definition. I guess she doesn't have the best complexion, and she was horrified to witness that her every blemish was exposed. So, some of the blame can be attributed to technological advances. There is also an unofficial Hollywood policy of retiring most actresses once they hit 30 (or before) unless they've won awards for their acting. When you look back at the golden era of film, many actresses were just finding their stride when they passed 30. Thus, so many modern films are outfitted with actresses who are barely out of their teens. And since it's mostly teens that have the time, energy and spare cash to see something on an IMAX screen, they want to see someone to whom they can relate. Where "grown ups" used to be the predominate audience for film, they've been usurped by younger generations, and the film industry caters to those who are buying tickets. The younger generation has different tastes and preferences. It's all okay, I suppose. Change is inevitable. Happily, we can still find our golden goddesses on DVD (more or less), although I sure wish there was a more concerted effort toward restoration. I'm a huge Hedy Lamarr fan, and although a lot of her movies are available on DVD, they are in terrible shape and more often than not do not come with closed captioning, so the muffled soundtrack is all you have. If a film was produced in the 1940s, I guess we're supposed to just feel fortunate to find any artifact.

      Anyway, thanks for taking the effort to create this unique Hub. It makes me want to visit Amazon to find some works that might include your list of redheaded beauties.

    • discovery2020 profile image
      Author

      discovery2020 3 years ago from TEXAS

      Nothing in today's films could compare.

    • profile image

      Ray 3 years ago

      I like this list of GORGEOUS REDHEADS in cinematic history. Most are

      forgotten now. However their presence in the a fore mentioned history will never be ignored by those of us who loves classic.

    • discovery2020 profile image
      Author

      discovery2020 3 years ago from TEXAS

      You are so right on, Ray. I really miss the golden age of film stars.

    • profile image

      Ray 3 years ago

      The list of beautiful redheads from the golden age of movies is

      Breathtaking. So-called movie stars of today just seem to lack

      something these actresses had. I don't know what it is but I know

      it when I see it!

    • discovery2020 profile image
      Author

      discovery2020 4 years ago from TEXAS

      I'll bet she is at that. Thanks for stopping by.

    • profile image

      June Parker Beck 4 years ago

      If you'd like to see read more about Maureen O'Hara, please visit her official website "Maureen O'Hara Magazine." Maureen is 91 years old and retired in Glengarriff, County Cork, Ireland.

      Still a very lovely lady.

      http://www.moharamagazine.com

    • discovery2020 profile image
      Author

      discovery2020 4 years ago from TEXAS

      You've got that right, Lisa. Thanks for stopping by.

    • profile image

      Lisa Catherine 4 years ago

      These ladies had such class. Actresses today should aspire to be like them!

    • discovery2020 profile image
      Author

      discovery2020 4 years ago from TEXAS

      I appreciate your comment. Thanks for stopping by.

    • editorsupremo profile image

      editorsupremo 4 years ago from London, England

      Lovely hub of beautiful red heads. I must admit when I think back to those eras and red headed women, the first name that pops in my head is the feisty actress, Maureen O' Hara.

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