One of Hollywood’s most recognizable sex icons and movie stars of the 1960s, Raquel Welch was a bombshell actress who passed away at age 82.
The actress, who is well-known for her striking appearance, embraced notoriety as a sex symbol with roles in movies like One Million Years B.C. and Fantastic Voyage, reinventing the position and emerging as one of Hollywood’s top lead actresses.
She passed away this morning after a brief illness, according to her relatives, who verified the news.
Welch was raised in San Diego, California, after being born on September 5, 1940, in Chicago, Illinois. Her cousin Lidia Gueiler Tejada, who served as Bolivia’s first female president, was also from Bolivia and had a Bolivian father.
She was originally known as Jo Raquel Tejada, but she later adopted her first husband’s last name in order to avoid Hollywood’s stereotypical portrayal of Latinas.
”I think language is very important to your identity and not having that … I sometimes feel isolated from that part of me,” Welch said in 2015. ”Yet I still feel very, very Hispanic. The essence of who I am is a Latina.”
When Welch was a teenager, she competed in beauty pageants; she later developed an interest in acting. In the 1960s, she relocated to Los Angeles to pursue her acting goals, where she encountered managers who attempted to make her into a sex symbol.
She had a few small film parts and TV cameos before landing a prominent role in the blockbuster Fantastic Voyage.
Her subsequent movie, the ancient fiction One Million Years B.C., cemented her status as an icon. Welch barely had three lines in the movie, but she ended up becoming its most well-known character because of the now-iconic deerskin bikini she wore. Despite this, Welch maintained her pride in her Latina ancestry.
Welch became one of the most well-known pin-up heroines of the era after the movie’s poster became a bestseller. It is still a well-known Hollywood picture, and Emily Ratajowski has honored the style.
Welch claimed that she was lured to her role as Loana the cave girl, despite the fact that she is best known for wearing a bikini.
“I liked that there was something very superhero about her,” Welch told The Los Angeles Times in 2016. “At least I wasn’t one of those mincing little girls; I never wanted to be that.”
She went on to play leading roles in a number of popular movies, such as the comedy Bedazzled and the westerns Bandolero! and 100 Rifles. She played the lead in the divisive film Myra Breckinridge, which demonstrated her willingness to take chances in her career.
She received the Golden Globe for Best Actress in a Musical or Comedy for one of her other most well-known performances in the 1973 movie The Three Musketeers.
Welch also had a modeling career and sang. She has found success with her Raquel Welch Wig Collection business venture. She kept acting in movies and TV shows in following decades.
She is regarded as one of Hollywood’s greatest sex icons of all time; she was ranked third on Playboy’s list of the “100 Sexiest Stars of the Twentieth Century” and was included in Empire’s list of the “100 Sexiest Stars in Film History.”
While her beauty made her iconic and Welch used her stunning looks to her advantage, she sometimes felt limited by her status as a sex symbol — as suggested by the title of her memoir, Beyond the Cleavage.
“There was this perception of ‘Oh, she’s just a sexpot. She’s just a body. She probably can’t walk and chew gum at the same time.’” she mentioned.
Although Welch’s performances received harsh criticism from critics frequently, she now enjoys greater recognition for her humorous skills. In addition, she is recognized with transforming the “blonde bombshell” stereotype of what a Hollywood sex symbol may be.
Welch had control over her image, despite the fact that producers frequently used her sensuality to promote a movie. According to the New York Times, she reportedly declined to perform nude sequences.
“I’ve definitely used my body and sex appeal to advantage in my work, but always within limits,” she said. “I reserve some things for my private life, and they are not for sale.”
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