“I have memories of a little girl, which have been translated into many defeats for Charlie Brown”
—Charles M. Schulz talking about the origin of the Little Red-Haired Girl
The Little Red-Haired Girl is an unseen character in the comic strip Peanuts by Charles M. Schulz. She was first referred to in 1961. She is Charlie Brown's crush, despite his being afraid to go near her. Whether or not she has any feelings towards Charlie Brown was never going to be revealed in the comic strip, until she was going to approach him in the November 14 1963 strip.
Her name is given as Heather in the 1977 animated TV special It's Your First Kiss, Charlie Brown and as Heather Wold in the 2015 animated film The Peanuts Movie. Those names, however, have never been used in the Peanuts comic strip. She appeared in Apple TV+'s The Snoopy Show segment, Dress-Up Snoopy, but it is unknown who voiced her.
The only known Schulz drawing of the Little Red-Haired Girl was drawn sometime in 1950, long before she was referred to in the strip. Why Schulz did not introduce her into the strip when it started is unknown. She bears a strong resemblance to Patty, a character who was prominent in the early years of the strip.
Charlie Brown first pines for the Little Red-Haired Girl during lunch at school in the strip from November 19, 1961. He continued loving her until the end of the strip in 2000. In a series of strips from July 1969, the Little Red-Haired Girl moves away, causing Charlie Brown sheer grief. He sees her again during a ski trip a few months later, and Peppermint Patty and Marcie run into her at summer camp in 1972. On May 30, 1978 Charlie Brown says that he thinks about the Little Red-Haired Girl constantly, suggesting that she has moved back to the neighborhood. It is confirmed that she has returned in the strip from December 27, 1978, in which Charlie Brown stands outside her house.
One reason Schulz never drew the Little Red-Haired girl in the strip, is to show Charlie Brown's hopeless longing for her. Schulz also admitted in 1997, "I could never draw her to satisfy the readers' impression of what she's probably like."
The character was based on Donna Johnson, a red-haired woman who Charles M. Schulz proposed to but turned him down. This is where Schulz got the idea for Charlie Brown's unrequited love years later along with many of the other characters.
Depiction in animation
The Little Red-Haired Girl has been shown on television in It's Your First Kiss, Charlie Brown, Happy New Year, Charlie Brown!, A Charlie Brown Valentine, the second season opening of The Charlie Brown and Snoopy Show, and makes a brief appearance in Snoopy!!! The Musical, during the song "Poor Sweet Baby". She also appeared on the Apple TV+ series The Snoopy Show.
In It's Your First Kiss, Charlie Brown, and in Happy New Year, Charlie Brown, Linus says that her name is Heather. That name has also been used in subsequent television specials. However, that name has never been used in the Peanuts comic strip.
The Peanuts Movie (in which the Little Red-Haired Girl is voiced by Francesca Capaldi, who also voices Frieda) is the first animated production in which the character has a speaking part. In the film, Heather's full name, Heather Wold, can be seen as fourth in the list of the students' test scores. Her last name comes from the married name of the character's inspiration, Donna Johnson Wold.
Heather is kind and very soft. She is also revealed to love how honest, kind, caring, compassionate, brave, and funny Charlie Brown is. According to You're in Love, Charlie Brown and Francesca Capaldi it is revealed that the Little Red-Haired Girl has a crush on Charlie Brown too.
Due to never fully appearing in the comic strips, Heather the Little Red-Haired Girl's design has never been consistent:
In It's Your First Kiss, Charlie Brown and Happy New Year, Charlie Brown!, Heather has long red hair in a flip-style, a pointy nose and rosy cheeks. In her first appearance, she wears a short pink dress accompany with a dark pink robe, white socks and black Mary Janes shoes. She also wears a gold crown on her head. In her second appearance, She is shown wearing a pink dress with the skirt sometimes shown as flouncy, and is also shown to have a round nose, like many of the Peanuts characters.
In a fantasy in the animated version of Snoopy!!! The Musical, she retains her physical appearance except her hair is a little shorter, her nose is a different shape, and is missing her rosy cheeks.
For A Charlie Brown Valentine, Heather's appearance was changed. She has curly bright red hair, similar to Frieda. She wears a purple dress, white socks and purple shoes. Like in her second appearance, she has a round nose.
In the 2015 CGI The Peanuts Movie, Heather is depicted with shorter fiery red hair in a flip-style, and wears an aquamarine bow in it. She now wears a dress the same style as Lucy's, except it is turquoise. On her feet, matching socks and white Mary Jane shoes are worn.
Heather makes a minor appearance in The Snoopy Show, dressed as a bunny for a Halloween party. Here, she retains her hairstyle from the CGI movie.
- She is based on Donna Wold, a woman Schulz proposed to but rejected him.
- Her physical appearance in the TV specials bare many resemblance to various Peanuts characters:
- She is one of the many characters in the series to have a pointed nose. The others are Frieda, Lila, Lydia, Peggy Jean, Babette, Jaques, Dolly, Janice Emmons, Melody-Melody, Mimi, Evelyn, Mary Jo, Nell, The Four Princesses, The Cheerleading Squad, C.A.R.A. and Charlotte Braun.
- She last name is revealed to be Wold, which is the same surname as Donna Wold.
- It's shown that Linus might have some feelings for her, as he was enchanted by her dance moves in Happy New Year, Charlie Brown!, and even called her cute in a comic strip from July 13, 1999.
- The same can be said for Schroeder, as he called her pretty in The Peanuts Movie.
- It appears that she might be friends with Patty, as they are shown sitting together at lunch in The Peanuts Movie, and are both shown laughing at Snoopy in The Snoopy Show episode Dress-Up Snoopy.
- She is one of the many characters to wear at least one hairbow. The others being Janice Emmons, Janice's sisters, Patty Swanson, Sally, Sophie, Lila, Truffles, Belle, Peggy Jean, Emily, Dolly, Fifi, Genevieve, Little Pigtailed Girl and Nell.
Notes and references
- Peanuts comic strip from May 25, 1998.
- Linus:"It's a tradition Charlie Brown. You escort Heather to the center of the ballroom."
- "Heather, are you home?"
"You are Heather, aren't you?"
- The Little Red-Haired Girl's name is given as Heather Wold in a list of test scores in The Peanuts Movie.