THE HISTORY OF REDHEAD
PERSECUTION by Bradley Mason Hamlin
Over the years and under the rainbow people have
often asked me two questions: 1) Why do you always wear sunglasses?
and 2) Why is your best buddy in the workplace [at a variety of
different jobs] always a black person?
Well, not so surprisingly, the answer to both
questions lies in a recessive gene on chromosome 16. The change in
the MC1R protein causes sensitivity to ultraviolet light. Very true
in my case—and you thought I wore those Ray Bans cuz they look so
Yeah, and since the recessive gene on chromosome 16
also creates red hair, well, it’s a no-brainer why I hangout with
the soul brothers at work. They too know what it’s like to be an
outcast from the mainstream society of white (non-red-haired)
Red-haired prejudice is very real indeed. I grew up
in Los Angeles and for a good portion of that time I lived on the
northeast end of L.A. in a place called Highland Park. Highland Park
is where you will traditionally find the colorful and spirited
groups of young lads known as: The Avenues, HLP, White Fence,
Cypress Park, Los Diablos and many others. No, these are not punk
rock groups …
The cholos/vatos in Highland Park well outnumber the
white boys and girls (and the blacks are an even greater minority)
but a white boy with red hair … well, that just seemed to trip their
triggers more than anything else.
Sometimes just walking home from Burbank Junior High
School was like surviving an obstacle course. They would see me on
the street and yell: “Rojo!” They would throw rocks, sticks,
sometimes snow-cones … or cut off my path and make me fight one of
their smaller members before I could pass.
“Right now, ese! Right now! Let’s fight, fuckin rojo!”
While these spirited actions of my Mexican peers did
help develop greater survival skills and a fair usage of street
Spanish—I often wondered what it would be like to not be singled out
When I was seventeen I joined the United States
Navy. Now there’s a gang you can join with lots of weapons and
uniforms and everything you need. However, when I got to boot camp
“Red, motherfucker, give me 50!”
To my surprise, it was a huge black man, dogging me.
I had not had much experience with the black man yet, but I was
surprised that he didn’t see me as a kindred soul, a red-haired
outcast from white society.
“Red, motherfucker, give me 50!”
Wasn’t long though before my best pal in boot camp
was a sorry black sonofabitch named Oliver. Oliver was an outcast
from his own people because he didn’t speak Black-English. They call
that Ebonics now, whatever the fuck that means.
Gee, before I start crying in my coffee I better get
to the positive side of this article.
“THE TRIBE OF CHROMOSOME 16”
(16 COOL PEOPLE with RED HAIR!)
16. Johnny Whitaker: Well, let’s face it, Johnny.
You’re only making the list because of your association with Sigmund
the Sea Monster.
15. William Shakespeare: Possibly as fictional as
“Jesus Christ,” Willy is believed by many to have written some
pretty good “plays.”
14. Lucky: Lucky is the well-known mascot for Lucky
Charms cereal. He is arguably the most beloved of all leprechauns.
13. Alcoholman: He gets super powers when he drinks
booze and Lucy Hell is his girlfriend. What’s not to love? You can
visit the Intoxicated Detective at:
12. David Caruso: He rocked two TV shows, NYPD
Blue and the muchbetter, CSI MIAMI. A solid soldier in
the red-headed militia. Even Lucy Hell thinks he’s good looking.
11. Darren McGavin: A great TV & film actor—and
the star of Kolchak, the Night Stalker. You can read our
separate tribute to Gavin elsewhere on retrocrush.
10. James Gagney: True, we never really got to see
his red hair, being the king of black & white gangster films, but he
sure showed the attitude. A great actor and a great redhead!
09. Jesus Christ aka Jesus of Nazareth aka Ben
Jeshua: A Roman solider gave a written report of Jesus being a
redhead. Some of the most famous paintings of Jesus depict him as a
red-haired man. Therefore, verily, I say unto you, red hair is
08. Lucille Ball: Unlike Norma Jean aka Marilyn
Monroe—who converted from red to blonde—Lucy converted from brown to
red. She also was responsible for getting Star Trek on
television. A+ Lucy, A+!
07. George Jetson: I always admired George’s
haircut, sharp man, sharp! He was a cool daddio, too. If you’ve ever
seen the Jet Screamer episode of The Jetsons you know I mean.
George wails on those drums.
06. Richie Cunningham: Richie, (no I’m not listing
the bald-headed director Ron Howard but Richie himself) was in a way
a modern version of Archie Andrews, the red-headed young man
portrayed as the “A” typical American boy. Sure, he wasn’t the
coolest guy on the show. That of course would be
Matsumoto "Arnold" Takahashi, played by Pat Morita. But
Richie was a cool kid in his own right. He made out with many cute
chicks at Inspiration Point. Not too shabby.
05. Archie Andrews: Archie came on the scene in
1941. This was a time when America actually saw the red-headed
freckled face kid as an archetype of American boyhood. All American
boy, Archie Andrews, is so hep and full of pep—he’s been jockin two
hot ladies—Betty & Veronica for over 60 years.
04. Gillian Anderson: Dana Scully from The
X-Files. You did us proud, baby. You did us proud. I can’t wait
to see your new movie. Call me.
03. Mary Jane Watson: Mary Jane, created by Stan
Lee and John Romita, Sr.—came into Peter Parker’s aka Spider-Man’s
life with the classic line: “Face it, tiger, you just hit the
jackpot!” This is the moment in the Amazing Spider-Man when you go
ahead and stop wishing Steve Ditko would come back, because you know
Spidey and friends could not possibly be in the hands of a better
artist. Romita’s portrayal of Mary Jane is as good as it gets in
terms of comic-book art—and what an awesome redhead!
02. Tina Louise aka Ginger Grant: Possibly my very
first retrocrush … Tina as Ginger Grant singing, “I just wanna make
love to you, poop-poop, a-doo …” Ay, carumba! Tina proved Marilyn
was wrong to betray our race.
01. Ann Margaret: It just doesn’t get any hotter
than Ann Margret singing and dancing in Viva, Las Vegas! She
is truly the greatest redhead of all time. She represents everything
the world has always feared from the redhead, the intense fiery red
heat and passion of a woman born of the same tribal line as Jesus
and Johnny Whitaker.
Other notable people with red are (but not limited
Bozo the Clown, Samuel Clemens aka Mark Twain, Howdy
Doody, Vincent Van Gogh, Seth Green, Maureen O’ Hara, King Louie
from Jungle Book, Thomas O’Malley from The Aristocats, Don Most aka
Ralph Malph, Jessica Rabbit, Robert Redford, George Washington, and
Woody Woodpecker …
-Bradley Mason Hamlin
You can read more of Bradley Mason Hamlin's work at