The artist formerly known as Norma Jean dyed her brunette locks blonde in the late '40s after being told by her modeling agency that it would help her succeed in film.
Ball, a natural brunette, went blonde when she was a model before settling on her iconic apricot-colored 'do. Hairdresser Sydney Guilaroff reportedly recommended the switch, saying: "The hair is brown, but the soul is on fire." Ball's closely guarded hair dye was kept in a garage safe.
Not that her dye job was kept a secret. In the 1950s, after the House of Un-American Activities Committee investigated Ball's alleged ties with communism, Desi Arnaz said: "The only thing red about Lucy is her hair, and even that is not legitimate."
At the suggestion of hair stylist Sydney Guilaroff, Ann-Margret (whose elusive last name is Olsson) began coloring her tresses red near the beginning of her career.
When French director Roger Vadim cast his young wife Brigitte Bardot in the film "And God Created Women" in 1956, he dyed her hair blonde and, according to biographer Jeffrey Robinson, "taught her how to be Brigitte, the sex symbol"
According to Emily Wortis Leider's biography "Becoming Mae West," the actress would not even admit to having once been a brunette. "If a fan asked her to autograph an old photo of the brunette Mae West, she'd try to take it in exchange for another. 'That's not me,' she'd insist."
Although she frequently sported dark roots, Day was rarely photographed as a brunette. A notable exception is in her third film, 1947's "It's a Great Feeling" (above left).
From Life magazine, April 1956:
"'Marilyn is very attractive and all that,' [Mansfield] has said, 'but she and I are entirely different. I can dye my hair and play a serious part.' For that matter, Miss Mansfield would not even have to dye her hair. She could just let it grow back to its natural color, which she admits, again in gross violation of the movie queen's code, is brown."
Hairline electrolysis and red hair dye were essential to Margarita Cansino's transformation into Rita Hayworth.
Lombard was a brunette when she signed a contract with Fox Studios at the age of 16, but a few years in the film industry would swiftly change that.
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