On Wednesday, February 15 beloved sex symbol of the 1960s and esteemed actress Raquel Welch passed away after a short illness at age 82.
“Raquel Welch, the legendary bombshell actress of film, television and stage, passed away peacefully early this morning after a brief illness,” her rep said in a statement.
“The 82-year-old actress burst into Hollywood in her initial roles in [‘One Million Years B.C.’] and ‘Fantastic Voyage.’ Her career spanned over 50 years starring in over 30 films and 50 television series and appearances. The Golden Globe winner, in more recent years, was involved in a very successful line of wigs. Raquel leaves behind her two children, son Damon Welch and her daughter, Tahnee Welch.”
With an extended list of works including Bedazzled, Myra Breckinridge and a noteworthy stint on Seinfeld, it was her breakout role in the 1966 science-fiction movie Fantastic Voyage that truly made her famous. This part solidified Raquel Welch’s status as a sex icon.
“My co-star was Stephen Boyd, who was not hard on the eyes. I had a terrible crush on him. I was too scared to say anything about it because it was my first big movie with Fox, and I was in with a lot of heavyweights,” In 2012, Welch recounted her experience as a medical team member about their persistent efforts to rescue the life of an injured diplomat.
Welch added, “I had one really important line to say, and it was something to do with oxygenation, which I had written down on a piece of scenery so I could glance at it before they called me. It was kind of silly.”
At the tender age of five, Welch had already developed an affinity for performing, having trained in ballet and participated in beauty pageants. Her passion blossomed even more when she was bestowed with a theater arts scholarship to San Diego State College. During her college years, she starred as the lead character in various local theatre productions.
Raquel Welch was an acclaimed actress, garnering two Golden Globe nominations and even winning for her performance in “The Three Musketeers,” where she shared the big screen with Faye Dunaway and Charlton Heston.
“My first day on set, Faye Dunaway comes over to me all dolled up, and she was so cute. She said, ‘Darling, I just want you to know, I’m a big fan of yours. But don’t you know, they’re all just waiting for us to tear each other’s eyes out. So let’s have fun with them,’” Welch recalled to The Post a decade ago.
“Everyone on set was going, ‘Uh-oh, here they come,’ standing there watching. And Faye gets out her fan and starts fanning herself, saying, ‘Darling, I adore your work.’ And I say, ‘Everything you do is genius!’ Everyone was so disappointed.”
After donning a deerskin bikini for the 1966 movie “One Million Years B.C.,” Raquel Welch rocketed to fame and became an iconic sex symbol of her era – though she saw herself in vastly different terms.
“I was happy that I had got a break so I could have my career, but at the same time, it was like: ’This isn’t me. But this is what I have to do because this is my ticket to ride,’” she wrote of her “One Million Years B.C.” role in her memoir, “Raquel: Beyond the Cleavage.”
“I’m not in a position to just say: ‘Oh, no, wait a minute. You’ve got it all wrong. I’d like to do Shakespeare.’”
In 1995, Empire magazine honored Welch as one of the most attractive stars in film history by naming her to their list of “100 Sexiest Stars in Film History.”
Hugh Hefner, the mastermind behind Playboy magazine, confessed that she was the “woman that I most wanted to have in the magazine” because she seemed “ageless.”
“Raquel Welch, one of the last of the classic sex symbols, came from the era when you could be considered the sexiest woman in the world without taking your clothes off,” Hefner wrote in “Playboy: The Celebrities.”
Hefner added, “She declined to do complete nudity, and I yielded gracefully. The pictures prove her point.”
In 1994, Raquel Welch was granted a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and went on to appear in an unforgettable episode of the sitcom “Seinfeld” titled “The Summer of George”. On that show, Welch portrayed a diva-ish version of herself who is cast as the lead role in Kramer’s play and earns him his first Tony Award. Unfortunately for him, however, he must fire her so as to keep it – which doesn’t go down particularly well!
In her last cinematic performance, Welch starred in the 2017 comedy hit “How to Be a Latin Lover.” Her swan song on television was also that year with “Date My Dad.” After her retirement from film and TV, she achieved success through her signature wig collection HAIRuWEAR and left an unforgettable mark on popular culture.
After disappearing from the public eye for more than two years, she was finally seen again in September 2021 outside Heritage Auctions building in Beverly Hills.
In 1959, she tied the knot with her beloved high school sweetheart James Welch and together they welcomed two children: Damon (63) and Latanne “Tahnee” (61). Unfortunately, after five years of marriage, their union ended in divorce in 1964.
Welch would walk down the aisle a total of four times, with Patrick Curtis (1967-1972), André Weinfeld (1980-1990), and Richard Palmer (1999-2004).