The Fetching Raquel Welch, Dead at 82

(Photo by Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP, File)
The opinions expressed by contributors are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of


My mother and I were avid watchers of variety TV, which had its heyday in the 70s. I remember this fabulous number from a 1975 episode of “The Cher Show.” Actress Raquel Welch did a barnburner of a duet singing, “I’m A Woman” alongside Cher.


Today, this declaration would be deemed hate speech. Back then, it was the fervent desire of every teenage girl, including me. Nobody embodied being a woman better than the luminous Raquel Welch.


Now, it is another piece of my childhood relegated to memory. Raquel Welch has passed away after a brief illness. She was 82.

From Vanity Fair:

Raquel Welch, the actor who became a household name thanks to her alluring performances in 1966’s One Million Years B.C. and Fantastic Voyage, has died. She was 82.

“The legendary bombshell actress of film, television, and stage, passed away peacefully early this morning after a brief illness,” Welch’s rep confirmed in a statement to ABC. “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.”

Welch is one of those entertainers who could do it all–sing, dance, comedy, drama–and she did it all while looking gorgeous and never breaking a sweat. Welch started out as a weather forecaster in San Diego, before garnering roles on popular sitcoms of the time like “Bewitched,” and doing a brief turn in the Elvis movie, “Roustabout,” before she nabbed the roles in “Fantastic Voyage” and “One Million Years B.C.”


However, while Welch was not one to complain, she did question Hollywood’s tendency to pigeonhole her as a sex symbol.

Welch, who would be named one of the “100 Sexiest Stars in Film History” by Empire magazine and be ranked No. 3 in Playboy’s “100 Sexiest Stars of the 20th Century,” said she never set out to be an onscreen siren. “Well, I didn’t know I was going to ‘burst on the scene as a sex symbol,’” she told GQ in 2012.  “I mean, the first part that I played under my contract at 20th Century Fox was Fantastic Voyage, where I played a scientist! I was going to be reduced to microscopic size and injected in the human bloodstream traveling in inner space to examine how the body really works, what happens with antibodies, blood cells, and so forth. And then to jump from that to a dinosaur movie [One Million Years B.C.] I thought, my gosh, I’m getting whiplash here.” She added, “That image of me [in the fur bikini] was circulated all over the world even before Fantastic Voyage really hit the screen.”

But nonetheless, Welch embraced it, took it in stride, then milked it for all it’s worth. Welch was a trailblazer, as a Hispanic woman (she used her first husband’s last name to avoid typecasting), and in terms of fighting for her rights before #RepresentHer and #MeToo were even a thing. In 1981, Welch sued Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer because they fired her weeks into the shooting of “Cannery Row” opposite Nick Nolte, according to The Hollywood Reporter, and replaced her with up-and-coming actress Debra Winger, who was 15 years her junior.


Welch filed a $24 million breach of contract suit that was front-page news in The Hollywood Reporter. “What they did was use me to get financing for the movie, then they dumped me for Debra, which they’d been planning all along,” says Welch, now 75. “The really Machiavellian part of this is that Debra and I were represented by the same agency.”

Welch won the day and the lawsuit. The judge awarded her $10 million, $8 million of that for punitive damages.

Born Jo Raquel Tejada on September 5, 1940, in Chicago, Welch began her career as a weather forecaster on local San Diego station KFMB before appearing on sitcoms such as Bewitched and the Elvis Presley musical Roustabout in the early ’60s. But it was 1966—and the deerskin bikini she wore in One Million Years B.C.—that helped Welch break out. Roles in BedazzledFathom, and Myra Breckinridge followed. In 1974, she won a Golden Globe for best actress in a musical or comedy for The Three Musketeers. Her later credits included guest appearances on Sabrina the Teenage Witch and Seinfeld, as well as a supporting role in Legally Blonde.

Welch penned a bestselling memoir in 2010: Raquel: Beyond the Cleavage. As the entertainment roles became fewer and fewer, Welch poured her energies into entrepreneurial endeavors, like her line of custom wigs.


According to The Irish Times, Welch was,

A political conservative, she never appeared in anything significantly more revealing than that furry bikini. “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.”

Welch is survived by her son Damon and daughter Tahnee Welch.


Join the conversation as a VIP Member

Trending on RedState Videos