Hollywood Mourns the Loss of Raquel Welch, Sex Symbol of the '60s and '70s

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Hollywood Mourns the Loss of Raquel Welch, Sex Symbol of the ’60s and ’70s


NEW YORK — The Associated Press reports: Raquel Welch has died. In the movie “One Million Years B.C.,” she comes out of the water in a skimpy, furry bikini, which made her an international sex symbol in the 1960s and 1970s. It had been 82 years since she was born.

Welch died early Wednesday morning after a short illness, according to her agent, Stephen LaManna of the talent agency Innovative Artists.

Welch got his big break in the campy prehistoric movie “One Million Years B.C.” from 1966, even though he only had three lines. She was able to avoid pterodactyls when she wore a brown doeskin bikini, but not the public.

“I just thought it was a goofy dinosaur epic we’d be able to sweep under the carpet one day,” she told The Associated Press in 1981. “Wrong. It turned out that I was the Bo Derek of the season, the lady in the loin cloth about whom everyone said, ‘My God, what a bod’ and they expected to disappear overnight.”

Hollywood Mourns the Loss of Raquel Welch, Sex Symbol of the '60s and '70s

She didn’t. In 1967, she played Lust in the comedy film “Bedazzled” by Peter Cook and Dudley Moore and a secret agent in the sexy spy spoof “Fathom.”

Pop culture took notice of her curves and beauty, and Playboy named her the “most desired woman” of the 1970s, even though she was never completely naked in the magazine. In 2013, she was number two on Men’s Health’s list of the “Hottest Women of All Time.” In the movie “The Shawshank Redemption,” a poster of Welch is used to cover an escape tunnel. Rita Hayworth and Marilyn Monroe were the other two women whose pictures he used.

Welch did more than just act. He also sang and danced. She surprised many critics and got good reviews when she took the place of Lauren Bacall in the 1981 Broadway musical “Woman of the Year” while she was on vacation. In 1997, she went back to Broadway with “Victor/Victoria.”

Raquel Welch knew that because she was beautiful, some people didn’t take her seriously. “I’m not Penny Marshall or Barbra Streisand,” she told the AP in 1993. “They’ll say, ‘Raquel Welch wants to direct? Give me a break.”


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Welch was born in Chicago as Jo-Raquel Tejada, but she grew up in La Jolla, California. (The “Jo” came from her mother, whose name was Josephine.) Welch was a single mother when she met Patrick Curtis, who used to be an actor but now works as a press agent.

“The irony of it all is that even though people thought of me as a sex symbol, in reality, I was a single mother of two small children!” In her autobiography, “Raquel: Beyond the Cleavage,” she wrote about her life.

Curtis became her manager and second husband. He helped her become a “glamour girl” with hundreds of magazine covers, a string of movies, exercise videos, and books like “The Raquel Welch Total Beauty and Fitness Program.”

Even though she was in some exploitative movies, she also surprised many in the business with good ones, like in Richard Lester’s “The Three Musketeers,” for which she won a Golden Globe, and in “Wild Party,” which starred James Coco. In 1988, for the TV movie “Right to Die,” she was also nominated for a Golden Globe.

She was married and divorced four times. She had two children, Damon Welch and Tahnee Welch, who both became actors. Tahnee Welch had a role in “Cocoon” in 1985.

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