From Rita Hayworth to Jessica Rabbit, redheads make the screen shine – and now Bryce Dallas Howard plays front and centre in Jurassic World

Gentlemen prefer blondes, but marry brunettes: and what about redheads? For many auburn film fans, role models in cinema have been thin on the ground over the years with the very idea of "a redhead" meaning either not girl next door enough, and too spiky to be given prime bombshell focus. And men? Minimal. Think of Bowie in The Man Who Fell To Earth, Harry Potter's Weasley family or the marriage prospects in Seven Brides For Seven Brothers.

While red men remain thin on the ground, the last decade has seen an increasing number of actresses dying their hair red to get ahead. And now, as the (naturally) red Bryce Dallas Howard takes centre stage in Jurassic World, we tip our caps to some of cinema's greatest redheads. 

Just don't call 'em ginger, unless you're talking specifically about Ms Rogers.

Maureen O'Hara with Hayley Mills in The Parent Trap Credit: Everett Collection / Rex Features

1. Maureen O'Hara.
In case you hadn't clocked her Irishness, O'Hara named her 2004 autobiography 'Tis Herself. She became a US citizen in the late Forties, and brought sparkle and flair to Miracle on 34th Street, How Green Was My Valley, Our Man in Havanas and The Parent Trap. She was awarded an honorary Oscar in 2014, only the second actress after Myrna Loy to receive the honour without having been nominated for the "regular" kind. In 2004 she told The Telegraph: "I proved there was a bloody good actress in me. It wasn't just my face. I gave bloody good performances."

Shirley MacLaine, photographed in the late 1950s Credit: Everett Collection/REX

2. Shirley MacLaine.
 What a picture. What a broad. Relentlessly fabulous in whatever she does, the multi-facted MacLaine has more talents than a Swiss Army knife. A career that spans The Children's Hour, Sweet Charity and her Oscar-winning role in Terms of Endearment, with the bonus of The Apartment. "I thought I would win [the Oscar] for The Apartment, but then Elizabeth Taylor had a tracheotomy," she said. As a teenager, MacLaine was "embarrassed" by her red hair and freckles, but now dyes it back to versions of her original colour. "I couldn’t tell you what the real colour of my hair is now – somewhere between white and faded mouse-grey," she wrote in her 2011 autobiography, I'm All Over That. "When I’m travelling and away from a hair salon, it can be embarrassing."

Rita Hayworth, photographed in the 1940s Credit: Everett/REX Shutterstock

3. Rita Hayworth.
Star quality from every angle: there's a reason Stephen King chose Hayworth as the poster girl for his short story about an escape from a little prison called Shawshank. Born Margarita Carmen Cansino, Hayworth was dyed red and renamed in order to make her appear "less Latina".

Deborah Kerr in The King and I Credit: Moviestore Collection/REX

4. Deborah Kerr.
Kerr's Celtic appearance bewitched Hollywood, with one interviewer writing that "in her colouring, hair, eyes, complexion, she is like a dazzling Scottish field of wildflowers, filmed in Technicolor." Kerr, the six-time Oscar nominee star of From Here to Eternity and Black Narcissus, described herself more prosaically as "really rather like a beautiful Jersey cow".

5. Jessica Rabbit.
This brooks no argument. I don't care if you say she's animated and doesn't count; she is arguably one of the most iconic women in film, let alone redheads. It's not her fault she's a legend, she's just drawn that way.

Gillian Anderson in The X Files: I Want To Believe Credit: Film Stills

6. Gillian Anderson.
 Two less than compelling film adaptations might not have done great things for the X-Files TV series (roll on the revival!), but her role as redhead FBI agent Dana Scully brought the usually blonde Anderson to the big screen. "I wasn't a redhead at the time, I was mousy brown, and I am very glad that somebody had the idea to add a bit of color to my life," she said in a recent Reddit Q&A.

Julia Roberts in Erin Brockovich Credit: Film Stills

7. Julia Roberts.
You simply cannot have a list of terrific redheads without Roberts, whose CV has thankfully expanded well beyond the adorable prostitute role for which Pretty Woman made her a megastar. Canny, charming and with comic timing in spades, Roberts is always a joy to watch. She caused nostalgic hearts to quicken when she arrived at the 2015 SAG Awards with hair dyed a very similar shade to her Nineties red hey day.

Christina Hendricks in Drive Credit: Film Stills

8. Christina Hendricks.
Now her era-defining turn in Mad Men is over, Hendricks can get back to film – she was captivating in 2011's Drive. Another natural blonde, she has dyed her hair since childhood. "I was obsessed with Anne Of Green Gables. There was something about her that spoke to me – and I wanted to have her beautiful red hair," she said in 2012. "My mum said: 'Well, let’s throw a rinse on it.' ‘My hair was very blonde at the time, but it went carrot red. And I was over the moon. I went to school the next day and felt like myself. I couldn’t tell you what shade I am now because I haven’t seen it in ages."

Emma Stone in Easy A Credit: Film Stills

9. Emma Stone.
The naturally blonde Stone dyed her hair red for 2007's Superbad and the rest, via a few blonde roles, is history. Well. eight years, so not really history, but you see where I'm going with this. "My mum's a redhead," she has said. "I think it's a skin tone thing, but I love having red hair."

Amy Adams in Enchanted Credit: Film Stills

10. Amy Adams.
Blonde Adams found Hollywood success when she dyed her hair red. And in 2007's Enchanted, little princess fans finally got a redheaded Disney princess who wasn't a mermaid, so that was quite something. "I absolutely identify as a redhead," Adams told Vogue. "Redheads have a get out of jail free card when it comes to their temper and their sense of humour. That suits my personality."

Julianne Moore in Savage Grace Credit: Film Stills

11. Julianne Moore.
Putting her money where her hair is, the Oscar-winning actress has written a series of children's books about a little redheaded girl, called Freckleface Strawberry, named after a childhood nickname, and aimed at reassuring children who might otherwise feel picked on for their hair. She has also appeared in Vogue with her daughter, Liv, both proudly showing identical red hair. More redheads in Vogue, thanks.

Scarlett Johannson in Avengers: Age of Ultron Credit: Jay Maidment/Disney/Marvel via AP

12. Scarlett Johansson.
Comics fans had been rather let down by the decision to have Rogue of the X-Men appear as a brunette, rather than a redhead. Luckily, the Black Widow was brought forth in her full blaze of glory for the Avengers films. Now, if the Black Widow can only be allowed to feature in her own merchandise and star in her own film, everything would be super.

Isla Fisher in Confessions of a Shopaholic Credit: Rex Features

13. Isla Fisher.
To give her her full name: "Oh lovelyIsla Fisher!" Inevitably delightful whether running up credit card bills and wardrobe changes in Confessions of a Shopaholic, or outperforming Vince Vaughan and Owen Wilson in Wedding Crasher. "It was great having red hair as a kid because I had something to blame my temper on," she said.

Jessica Chastain as Disney's Merida Credit: Annie Leibovitz for Disney Parks

14. Jessica Chastain.
Red trivia: Chastain has never dyed her hair. Killing two birds with one stone, here is the Zero Dark Thirty actress in an absolutely cracking Annie Liebowitz photo shoot as Disney's most recent redhead heroine Merida, from 2012's Brave. "I got teased a lot when I was a little kid," she has said. "Builled for being a redhead. When you become an adult, that stops."

Bryce Dallas Howard in Jurassic World Credit: Chuck Zlotnick/Universal Pictures via AP

15. Bryce Dallas Howard.
Daughter to director/actor/American national treasure Ron, Howard comes from celebrated redhead stock. This hasn't stopped audiences from confusing her with the equally fragrant Jessica Chastain: Howard's current role in Jurassic World should go some way to clearing up matters. A joyous pay-off comes in the form of a very funny recent parody song, "I am Not Jessica Chastain", which both actresses played up to on Chastain's Instagram feed. 

Everyone get it yet? : ) performance by #BryceDallasHoward not #JessicaChastain

A video posted by Jessica Chastain (@chastainiac) on

Nicole Kidman in Moulin Rouge Credit: Film Stills

16. Nicole Kidman.
She's been blonde in so many films now she's practically lost her status, and yet you can't have a list of Hollywood redheads without including her. I know, my editor made me put her back in. Let's at least pay tribute to her most glorious role, as Satine in Moulin Rouge. On Jonathan Ross's talk show in 2005, she said that studios now prefer her as a blonde. "As a child my hair was naturally red, but [when I was 13] my hair turned light blonde. It's really strange but it happened. The directors made me dye my hair red, as they all thought it suited me at the time. Even for Dead Calm, Phillip Noyce made me dye my hair red. Now the directors and studios just let me keep my natural colour."