Retro TV Redheads

Some cute, some goofy, some HOT, but all memorable
March 12, 2009
Perhaps I'm just trapped in my retro-bubble or maybe I just need give in and get cable, either way it seems to me that there just aren't enough redheads on our TV screens these days. For a good 10 years it seemed like you couldn't make it once around the television dial without seeing a pile of red hair arranged in any number of fashionable shapes and styles, yet today's TV viewers are robbed of this rose-tinted experience. To make my case, I present to you a word or two about my favorite TV sitcom redheads from the years 1985-1995.

On the classic & incredibly strange (if you think about it) 1985 sitcom Small Wonder, the adventures of the Lawson family and their robot daughter, V.I.C.K.I., were the main focus of almost every episode. But when viewers weren't watching V.I.C.K.I. display her robotic prowess through any number of cheesy 80's special effects (or as we called them back then "FX") they were being annoyed by the cute, but nosy neighbor Harriet Brindle as played by lovable redhead Emily Schulman.

Like a pale, white, female Urkel (ok, not a great comparison) Harriet was the neighbor girl who, like a little red-haired Gremlin (better?)was always snooping around the Lawson household in hopes of catching a glimpse of the action. No stranger to having a door slammed in her face (my favorite moments), Harriet's boundless energy and optimism endeared her to audiences of the era and the tint of her hair only served to make her even more unforgettable. The redhead phenomenon was not reserved solely for freckle-faced cutie pies however, as our next crimson haired retro refugee can attest.

In 1987, FOX's inaugural prime-time sitcom, Married...With Children introduced the world to a sassy housewife named Peggy Bundy brought to life by the hilarious Katey Sagal. With her tomato-toned bouffant hair-do that seemed to expand its mass with every season, Peggy was the whiny couch potato and wife of lowly shoe salesman Al Bundy as well as mother to teenage hooligans Bud (aka Grandmaster B) and Kelly.

Returning to the hair for which she was so famous, the evolution of the do is what is amazing. In the early seasons, the family was presented in somewhat realistic manner with Peggy's hair more subdued, but still uniquely out of place. As the show's tone moved to more cartoonish buffoonery, so did Peggy's hair take on a larger than life, almost Medusa-like sculpt until it seemed like she could have had family of birds nesting inside.

Eventually Katy swapped her red hair for purple portraying the one-eyed, Leela on the animated cult classic Futurama, but to a certain generation of boob tube devotees, she'll always be that wacky girl from Wanker County.

Beating Peggy Bundy to the Bouffant punch by a year and yet a mere blip on the pop culture radar is the graceful debutante Miss Yvonne from Pee-Wee's Playhouse circa 1986. Originating as part of the original Pee-Wee Herman stage show (which I highly recommend renting/buying) Miss Yvonne was the epitome of femininity in the Pee-Wee's pre-adolescent world as played by Lynne Marie Stewart.

Walking that Freudian line between motherly and sexy (which even as a kid kind of creeped me out) Miss Yvonne fluttered around the playhouse always smiling and teaching us about manners or feelings. Sometimes she even stacked her locks into a beehive, further driving home the point that she was not of this world.

Moving into the 90's, one of the characters from Nickelodeon's summer camp sitcom Salute Your Shorts brought a whole new face to the redhead world. Sporting a wicked red/orange mullet and in your face (wasn't everything?) attitude, Danny Cooksey played the man named Budnick, who was Camp Anawanna's main supplier for trouble.

When he wasn't ordering around his henchman, Donkey Lips, Budnick was doing mafia-like "favors" for his fellow campers for which he always expected re-payment, with interest. Budnick was the perfect villain, but had a few episodes where he showed that his heart was as red as his hair, which is my colorful way of saying that he had feelings (did any of you get that?)

You may also remember Danny Cooksey as John Connor's arcade friend from T2: Judgment Day and even though he wasn't officially playing Budnick, I always considered it an awesome crossover. Salute Your Shorts and Saved By The Bell were my Must See TV every afternoon when the classroom doors were finally unlocked and I would sit down for Top Ramen and television.

In 1993, we got two redheads for the price of one as The Adventures of Pete & Pete showed us a glimpse of life in the fictional town of Wellsville. The Petes were awesome! It was almost as if the color of their hair had warped the very reality in which they existed acting as a beacon to such wacky characters as Artie (The strongest the world), the soft-serve headed Mr. Tastee and arch enemy, Pit Stain.

Even Little Pete's forearm tattoo, Petunia was a redhead and we all know what mystical powers of hypnotism she held in her rhythmic dance of doom. For some reason I always had a hard time catching episodes of this show, so each time I happened upon them I was completely entranced. We can only hope that someday a Pete & Pete reunion show will be filmed so we can catch up with all the madness that they've been up to in past 13 years.
I say if you're gonna hit the tail end of a trend, you might as well do it with a bang! Our last entrant into the redhead hall of fame is a gal who drop-kicked Tiffani-Amber Thiessen out of the top spot on my hottest girls of all time list at the fateful start of puberty in 1995. Ladies and gentleman (maybe more for the gentleman), I give you, Nikki Cox.

Starring as the somewhere in between good and bad girl, Tiffany Malloy on the WB's Unhappily Ever After, Nikki brought a great comedic presence to the show and a beauty that kept your eyes glued to the set. I remember a friend of mine went to a taping of the show once and I was so jealous, "You mean you were within 50 feet of the red-headed amazon? You're a jerk." What else do you call a guy that doesn't invite you along with him to drool at a hot TV starlet in public?

Personally I always thought Nikki Cox would have made a great Mary-Jane in the Spider-Man films, but alas she was relegated to starring in her own self-titled show about being married to a semi-professional wrestler...meh.

Honorable mention goes to non-TV redheads Junior from the Problem Child movies, who I always thought he looked like an evil, midget Molly Ringwald (who herself could have made the list for her brief stint on the early seasons of Facts of Life).

And who can forget, bully extraordinaire, Scut Farkus from A Christmas Story (I actually went to school with a kid that looked just like him, " help me, he had yellow eyes!"). I should also mention that Gillian Anderson from the X-Files probably shoudl be on the list, but she was so bland I never bothered watching the show. I'd like to hear from the rest of you about who else I forgot to include on the list. Keep in mind that if someone mentions anything Pokemon or Dalmation related (You know who you are...), I'm just gonna scream. Thanks for reading.
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