Sex Symbol Raquel Welch Dies at 82

American actress and pinup Raquel Welch, one of the most glamorous stars of Hollywood, has died peacefully at the age of 82 after a short illness.

Raquel Welch became an international sex symbol in the 1960s, after turning a modelling career into acting in movies such as One Million Years B.C. (1966), where she played a fur-clad cavewoman against Ray Harryhausen’s animated dinosaurs, and a scientist in Fantastic Voyage (1966) where her skin-tight diving suit raised temperatures.

Though she later lamented the fact that her looks made it difficult for her to be taken seriously as an actress, she did take some controversial roles including the sex-change Myra Breckenridge (1970), and won a Golden Globe award for her supporting role in The Four Musketeers (1974).

She was born Jo-Raquel Tejada in 1940, and grew up in California, where she became a beauty pageant contestant and weather forecaster. She married James Welch in 1959 and was advised to retain her married name after their divorce. They had two children, Damon and Latanne, now an actress and known as Tahnee Welch.


After working as a cocktail waitress and a model in Dallas, she moved back to California in 1964 and scored small parts in movies A House Is Not A Home, and Roustabout, a musical starring Elvis Presley.

Her back-to-back appearances in 1,000,000 Years BC and Fantastic Voyage catapulted her to fame, and a famous poster of her in a fur bikini remains an iconic Hollywood image.

She avoided doing nude scenes, yet in later years she expressed discomfort with the representation of her body, once saying she “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,” she added.

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She wrote in a memoir, Raquel: Beyond the Cleavage Welch about her childhood, career struggles as a single mother and her approach to ageing, and carried on a career for over five decades, appearing in more than 30 movies and 50 TV shows.

In later years she released a signature line of wigs, a jewellery and skincare collection, and a Mac Cosmetics makeup line.

“So sad to hear about Raquel Welch’s passing. I loved working with her on Legally Blonde,” Reese Witherspoon shared on Twitter alongside an image of Welch. “She was elegant, professional and glamorous beyond belief. Simply stunning. May all her angels carry her home.”

Director Paul Feig said in his social media tribute that working with Welch was a “great pleasure” and expressed that “we’ve lost a true icon.”


“This is so sad,” he shared in a tweet. “I had the great pleasure of working with Ms. Welch when I was a regular on Sabrina the Teenage Witch and she was awesome. Kind, funny and a true superstar whom I was pretty much in love with for most of my childhood.”

The Ray & Diana Harryhausen Foundation, a foundation set up by the legendary animator who worked on One Million Years B.C., also honoured Welch by sharing an image of her from the film.

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