OFFBEAT: Being a redhead not always so easy

Phil Potempa's daily entertainment news column
2014-03-28T00:00:00Z OFFBEAT: Being a redhead not always so easyBy Philip Potempa, (219) 852-4327

Little Orphan Annie had it tough early in life.

But her famed top crop of flaming red hair was crowned by life on Easy Street after meeting Daddy Warbucks in the "funnies" section of the newspaper.

One of my students at Purdue University North Central, who shares the same hue of flare red follicles, decided to devote her informative speech presented in class Thursday to what was once the historical woes of being a redhead countered by today's pros.

Today, redheads, now affectionately dubbed as "gingers," are prized for hair and skin pigment distinction.

I thought Times Readers would like a glance at how it once was those with blazon brows, courtesy of the clever and invention speech shared by PNC student Victoria Flanders, 20, of Valparaiso.

• In Ancient Greece, those born with red hair were thought to be vampires.

• By the Middle Ages and spanning to the colonists who came to America, redheads were believed to be witches and warlocks.

Adolph Hitler found people of a variety of heritages, faiths, practices, beliefs and physical qualities to be "undesirable." Documentation reveals wasn't exactly fond of redheads as well. However, because of the Scandinavian link, he was little more tolerable of their appearance. However, there is an often-cited incident of his "banning the marriage" of two redheads, fearing "deviant offspring."

• Red hair occurs naturally for approximately only 1–2 percent of the human population. It occurs more frequently (2–6 percent) in people of northern or western European ancestry, and less frequently in other populations. Red hair appears in people with two copies of a recessive gene on chromosome 16 which causes a mutation in the MC1R protein.

Scotland has the highest proportion of redheads; 13 percent of the population has red hair and approximately 40 percent carries the recessive redhead gene. Ireland has the second highest percentage; as many as 10 percent of the Irish population has red, auburn, or strawberry blond hair. It is thought that up to 46 percent of the Irish population carries the recessive redhead gene.

• An erroneous study published in 2007 by "The Oxford Hair Foundation" predicted "the extinction of redheads" by 2060.

• Due to increased sensitivity to thermal pain, because of mutation in hormone receptors that trigger pain-relieving endorphins in the body, it has been found that redheads require as much as 20 percent more anesthesia during medical procedures.

• Advantages of being a redhead include being less susceptible to depression, having stronger bones and more resilient immune systems and hair that never turns grey (but inside, white).

The opinions expressed are solely those of the writer. He can be reached at or (219) 852-4327.

Copyright 2014 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Movies & Theater


Enter your Zip code below to see local movie listings:

TV Listings

Enter your ZIP code below to see local listings.
Get weekly ads via e-mail

Featured Businesses