Raquel Welch as Loana in One Million Years BC {image via Hammer Films}

Actress Raquel Welch has died at the age of 82. The legendary bombshell actress of film, television and stage, passed away peacefully in Los Angeles early this morning after a brief illness.

Raquel Welsch was born Raquel Tejada in Chicago, Illinois September 5, 1940. She moved to southern California as a young child and grew up in San Diego County. She attended San Diego State College (later renamed San Diego State University) on a theater arts scholarship. She competed in beauty pageants before becoming a model and an actress

She married her high school sweetheart, James Welch in 1959. She deliberately kept his name after the divorce (1964) to avoid being typecast as a Latina bombshell. She was married four times and had two children: daughter Tahnee Welch and son Damon Welch.

Raquel Welch was best known for her auburn hair and her feminine curves, but she tried to be taken seriously as an actress. Empire Magazine chose her as one of the 100 Sexist Stars in Film History. Playboy Magazine placed her third her on their 100 Sexiest Stars of the Twentieth Century. She appeared in several SciFi movies and genre TV shows.

SciFi, Historical, and Spy Films

  • Cora Peterson in Fantastic Voyage (1966)
  • Loana in One Million Years BC (1966)
  • Fathom Harvill in Fathom (1967)
  • Sarita in 100 Rifles (1969)
  • Lust in Bedazzled(1967)
  • Magdalena in Bluebeard (1972)
  • Constance Bonacieux in The Three Musketeers (1973)
  • Constance Bonacieux in The Four Musketeers (1974)
  • Lady Edith in The Prince and the Pauper (1977)
  • Walks Far Woman in The Legend of Walks Far Woman (1982)

She served as an uncredited producer on the sci-fi film The Sorcerors (1967) and the western Hannie Caulder (1971). With Andre Weinfield, she co-wrote the TV special From Raquel with Love.

Genre TV Appearances

  • Bewitched (1964), Mork and Mindy (1979), Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman (1995),
  • Happily Ever After: Fairy Tales for Every Child (1995), Sabrina the Teenage Witch (1996)

Other Notable Roles

  • Maria Stoner in Bandolero! (1968)
  • Myra Breckinridge in Myra Breckinridge(1970)
  • Elena in The Beloved (1971)
  • Hannie Caulder in Hannie Caulder (1971)
  • Jugs in Mother, Jugs, and Speed (1976)
  • Mrs. William Vandermark in Legally Blonde (2001)

Sex Symbol?

Hugh Hefner wrote “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. She declined to do complete nudity, and I yielded gracefully. These pictures prove her point.”

Although she posed for Playboy, she refused to pose or act completely nude, although her movies often featured her in incredibly skimpy costumes, she never permitted herself to be photographed nude. “What I do on the screen is not to be equated with what I do in my private life. Privately, I am understated and dislike any hoopla”. She also admitted, “I was not brought up to be a sex symbol, nor is it in my nature to be one. The fact that I became one is probably the loveliest, most glamorous and fortunate misunderstanding.”

Raquel Welch once complained: “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.'”‘ In my first couple of movies, I had no dialogue. It was frustrating. And then I started to realize that it came with the territory. Look at somebody like Marilyn Monroe. I always wondered why she seemed so unhappy. Everybody worshipped her and she was so extraordinary and hypnotic on screen. But they never nominated her for any of her musicals or comedies, as good as she was. Because for some reason, somebody with her sex appeal, her indescribable attraction, is rarely taken seriously. Hollywood doesn’t honor comedy and it doesn’t honor sex appeal. And they definitely don’t give awards to either of them. So you always feel a little insecure.”

In 1996 Raquel Welch received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. She won a Golden Globe for Best Actress in The Three Musketeers. In 1983 she won a Bronze Wrangler Award from Western Heritage Awards for Walks Far Woman. The Imagen Foundation Awards granted her a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2001.

Rqquel Welch is survived by her children, actress Tahnee Welch (Kitty in Cocoon (1985)) and actor and production assistant Damon Welch (The Day The Earth Got Stoned (1979), and her brother James Tejada and her sister Gayle Tejada.

Our condolences to her family and friends. She’ll be missed. By everyone.

-30 –

Susan Macdonald
Susan Macdonald

Susan Macdonald is the author of the children’s book “R is for Renaissance Faire”, as well as 26 short stories, mostly fantasy in “Alternative Truths”, “Swords and Sorceress ”, Swords &Sorceries Vols. 1, 2, & 5, “Cat Tails” “Under Western Stars”, and “Knee-High Drummond and the Durango Kid”. Her articles have appeared on SCIFI.radio’s web site, in The Inquisitr, and in The Millington Star. She enjoys Renaissance Faires (see book above), science fiction conventions,  Highland Games, and Native American pow-wows.