A recent British study found that blond women earn more than their brunette or redhead counterparts. Of course, the study was sponsored by Superdrug, a store chain that sells hair products and makes money from hair insecurity. Which shows that when it comes to blond mythology, don't believe the hype. But you can trust these 10 things:
1 People have gone to great lengths to achieve blondness. In ancient Rome, people used pigeon poop; in Renaissance Venice, horse urine. Throughout history, nonblonds have also tried white wine, olive oil, ivy bark, soap and saffron.
2 Alfred Hitchcock cast so many blondes in his movies that film critics now write of "Hitchcock blondes:" beautiful, aloof, smart leading ladies. Think Grace Kelly, Tippi Hedren and Kim Novak. Hitchcock offered myriad reasons for his preference for light-haired actresses, including that they film better in black and white, but one quote seems to sum it up: "Blondes make the best victims," Hitchcock said. "They're like virgin snow that shows up the bloody footprints."
3 According to Victoria Sherrow's "Encyclopedia of Hair," there was an original "dumb blonde." An 18th century French actress and prostitute named Rosalie Duthe was known for being very beautiful but incapable of intelligent conversation. She was satirized in a play called "Les Curiosites de la Foire" in 1775. But dumb is relative: Duthe was extremely wealthy as a mistress of royalty.
4 If the director yells "Kill the blonde!" on a movie set, he's probably ordering the crew to shut off an open-face, 2,000-watt spotlight.
5 Actress Marilyn Monroe colored her hair using a shade of blond called dirty pillow slip.
6 In junior high, Kurt Cobain was profiled in his school newspaper, the Puppy Press: "Kurt is a seventh-grader at our school. He has blond hair and blue eyes. He thinks school is alright. … His favorite saying is 'Excuse you.' "
7 Actress Veronica Lake's peekaboo hairdo, with long blond hair over one eye, was a 1940s sensation. According to Life magazine, she had about 150,000 hairs on her head, with her tresses 17 inches long in front and 24 inches long in back. The downsides: "Her hair catches fire fairly often when she is smoking" and "it has a bad habit of snagging on men's buttons." About the buttons, Life wrote: "If Miss Lake were in fact the kind of girl she portrays on the screen, this might lead to all kinds of fascinating complications. …"
8 Only one in 20 white American adults is naturally blond.
9 In the early '80s, Brad Pitt dropped out of the University of Missouri two credits short of graduating and went to Hollywood. But before his light-haired good looks became famous, Pitt worked a variety of odd jobs in California — delivering refrigerators, serving as a chauffeur for strippers and dressing as a chicken to promote El Pollo Loco "flame-grilled" chicken.
10 Former members of the '70s rock group Stilettos were searching for a name for their new group and settled on Blondie. Lead singer Debbie Harry said the name came from truck drivers who would pass her and shout, "Hey, Blondie!" In 1997, the band performed on an Iggy Pop tribute album using the pseudonym Adolph's Dog. It's probably not a coincidence that Adolf Hitler had a pet dog named Blondi.
Mark Jacob is a deputy metro editor at the Tribune; Stephan Benzkofer is the Tribune's weekend editor. Neither of them is blond, unless the light hits them just right.
Sources: "Strike the Baby and Kill the Blonde: An Insider's Guide to Film Slang," by Dave Knox; "Encyclopedia of Hair: A Cultural History," by Victoria Sherrow; "Encyclopedia of Prostitution and Sex Work, Vol. 1," by Melissa Hope Ditmore; "On Blondes," by Joanna Pitman; "Peekaboo: The Story of Veronica Lake," by Jeff Lenburg; "Alfred Hitchcock: A Life in Darkness and Light," by Patrick McGilligan; "Punk: The Definitive Record of a Revolution," by Stephen Colegrave and Chris Sullivan; "Heavier Than Heaven: A Biography of Kurt Cobain," by Charles R. Cross; "The Rolling Stone Film Reader," article by Chris Mundy; Life magazine; and Boston Herald.