Jo Raquel Welch was an actress and model who peaked in Hollywood during the 1960s and 1970s as a sex symbol. She gained her breakthrough role in the 1966 movie Fantastic Voyage and became famous the same year with her bold role in One Million Years B.C., where she donned the iconic prehistoric fur bikini. Raquel had just three dialogues in the movie, but that did not stop her from becoming an international sensation overnight. She starred in films like Bedazzled, Bandolero!, Myra Breckinridge, The Three Musketeers, Right to Die, etc.
Raquel Welch filled in the shoes of the great Marilyn Munroe during the 1960s as an international sex symbol. Yet her sex appeal never overshadowed her acting potential. She has starred in various critically acclaimed movies and won a Golden Globe for her role in The Three Musketeers.
3 Before The Glamour And Glory
Raquel Welch was born Jo Raquel Tejada as the first of three children born to Bolivian Armando Carlos Tejada and his Irish-American wife Josephine Sarah Hall on September 5, 1940, in Chicago, Illinois. When Raquel was two years old, the family relocated to San Diego, California. She started taking dance lessons when she was young, and as an adult, she won several teen beauty competitions like Miss Photogenic, Miss La Jolla, Miss Contour, and Miss San Diego at the San Diego County Fair.
Raquel studied at the San Diego State College on a scholarship and met her high schoolmate and first husband, James Welch, in 1959. The couple had two children together, yet their relationship did not last long, and they got separated in 1962. Raquel then became a Weather girl for a local channel and quit college. She moved to Dallas, Texas, along with her two children, and modeled for Neiman Marcus while working as a barmaid.
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Eventually, in 1963 Raquel moved to LA along with her kids, as per The Vintage News. She started auditioning for various movies and TV shows and initially landed roles in Bewitched, McHale’s Navy, and The Virginian. She went on to make her big screen debut in 1964 with A House Is Not A Home alongside Shelley Winters. Following this, she starred in minor roles in movies like Roustabout and Do Not Disturb and landed her first significant role in the 1965 movie A Swingin’ Summer.
2 One Million B.C. Changed Welch’s Career
Raquel Welch landed her breakthrough role with the 1966 cult sci-fi movie Fantastic Voyage, which shot her to fame overnight. People loved her role as Cora Peterson, and she bagged a contract with the production giant 20th Century Fox. In the same year, she played one of the most iconic roles in the movie One Million Years B.C., where she played cave queen Loana.
Raquel flaunted a prehistoric fur bikini in the movie, which became one of the most iconic outfits in Hollywood history and made Raquel an international sex symbol. She had just three lines in One Million Years B.C., yet she became the show stealer of the movie. The film’s poster featuring her in a fur bikini caused a worldwide stir and became one of the highest-selling posters of all time, as reported by WION.
1 Blockbusters That Made Her An Established Actress
After her overnight success in 1966, Raquel Welch went on to star in Bedazzled, and the spy movie Fathom in 1967 and awed the audience with her sizzling screen presence. She further starred in the 1968 movie Lady In Cement, sharing the screen with the legendary Frank Sinatra. She stepped into the 70s with the film Myra Breckinridge where she donned another iconic outfit in the form of an American flag bikini, as per the New York Post.
Across the 70s, Raquel Welch established herself as a credible actress and gained widespread critical acclaim. She played the titular role in the 1971 movie Hannie Caulder and went on to star in films like Fuzz, Kansas City Bomber, etc. In 1973 came her critical breakthrough role when she starred as Constance Bonacieux in Richard Lester’s The Three Musketeers. The movie was a critical and commercial success and won Raquel her first Golden Globe Award for Best Actress, as reported by IMDB.
Following her critical success, she starred in movies like The Last of Sheila and reprised her role in The Four Musketeers, a sequel to The Three Musketeers. Apart from film, she has starred in various TV shows and movies like Wendy and Me, The Muppet Show, The Legend of Walks Far Woman, Mork & Mindy, and the 1987 TV movie Right to Die, which got her a Golden Globe Nomination for Best Actress.
In her career spanning almost five decades, Raquel Welch has starred in multiple cult movies and TV shows while making a legacy for herself as an actress, poster girl, and sex symbol just like her predecessor Marilyn Munroe. Despite her enormous sex appeal, Raquel has never limited herself to being just an eye candy and has established herself as a reputed and critically acclaimed actress. She has faced all the trials and tribulations of life with multiple divorces, being objectified, and being a single mother. Yet, she has come out with flying colors being one of the most iconic faces of Hollywood. On February 15, 2023, Raquel breathed her last at 82, with her last movie being How to Be a Latin Lover in 2017.
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Sources – IMDB, New York Post, WION, The Vintage News
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