WHERE ARE THEY NOW?
(Actress) - One Million Years B.C.
Jo Raquel Tejada
September 5, 1940 in Chicago, Illinois, USA
February 15, 2023 in Los Angeles, California, USA
Claim To Fame:
Raquel Welch was an American actress and model best known for her role in
(1966) and the Hammer Film Production of
One Million Years B.C.
(1966); with the latter she became an international sex symbol thanks to the image of her in a deer-skin bikini that became bestselling poster.
Welch married her high school sweetheart, James Welch, on May 8, 1959. They had two children: Damon and Tahnee. The couple separated in 1962 and divorced in 1964; she retained Welch's last name until her death. In 1967, she married producer Patrick Curtis on Valentine's Day, and divorced him in 1972. In 1980, she married producer André Weinfeld, it later ended in 1990. In 1999, Welch wed Richie Palmer, owner of Mulberry Street Pizzeria. The pair separated in August 2003 and later divorced.
She was the first child of Armando Carlos Tejada Urquizo, an aeronautical engineer, and Josephine Sarah Hall.
Had a younger brother, James "Jim" Tejada, and a younger sister, Gayle Tejada.
Her cousin, Bolivian politician Lidia Gueiler Tejada, became the first female president of Bolivia.
She began studying ballet at age seven.
At age 14, she won beauty titles as Miss Photogenic and Miss Contour.
While attending La Jolla High School she won the title of Miss La Jolla and the title of Miss San Diego – the Fairest of the Fair – at the San Diego County Fair.
In 1958, Welch graduated with honors from high school.
Seeking an acting career, she entered San Diego State College on a theater arts scholarship, and won several parts in local theater productions; including the title role in The Ramona Pageant.
In 1960, Welch got a job as a weather presenter at KFMB, a local San Diego television station.
After separation from James Welch, she moved with her two children to Dallas, Texas, where she made a living as a model for Neiman Marcus and as a cocktail waitress.
Dated football player Joe Namath; Paramount executive Robert Evans; actors Warren Beatty, Richard Burton, Sean Connery and Freddie Prinze; musicians Bob Dylan and Alice Cooper; and costume designers Bob Moore Jr. and Ron Talsky.
Her last relationship, during the early-to-mid-2010s, was with American Idol producer Nigel Lythgoe.
During the Vietnam War, Welch showed her support for the troops at United Service Organizations (USO) shows often appearing with Bob Hope.
She was one of many actresses who auditioned for the role of Mary Ann Summers on the television series Gilligan's Island.
Welch's first featured role was in the beach film A Swingin' Summer (1965).
Landed a multi-year contract with 20th Century Fox. Executives talked about changing her name to "Debbie" because they thought "Raquel" would be hard to pronounce and sounded too exotic, she refused.
After screen testing for Saul David's Our Man Flint, she was cast in a leading role in David's sci-fi film
(1966), in which she portrayed a member of a medical team that is miniaturized and injected into the body of an injured scientist with the mission to save his life. The film was a hit and made her a star.
Fox loaned Welch to Hammer Studios to star in
One Million Years B.C.
(1966), a remake of the Hal Roach film One Million B.C. (1940). Her only costume was a two-piece deer skin bikini. A publicity still of her in the bikini became a bestselling poster and turned her into an instant pin-up girl and the sex symbol of the 1960s. Her grunting in the film was dubbed by Nikki Van der Zyl, just on case you were wondering.
Her first starring vehicle, the spy film Fathom (1967), was filmed in Spain for 20th Century Fox.
Established her own production company, Curtwel, with Hollywood agent Patrick Curtis.
She appeared as Lust incarnate in the Peter Cook-Dudley Moore comedy, Bedazzled (1967), a Swinging Sixties retelling of the Faust legend, as was the Western, Bandolero! (1968), which co-starred James Stewart and Dean Martin.
Welch starred in 100 Rifles, a 1969 western directed by Tom Gries and filmed in Spain. She co-starred with Jim Brown, Burt Reynolds, and Fernando Lamas. The film was controversial at the time because it included a love scene between Welch and Brown, which breached Hollywood's taboo against onscreen interracial intimacy. The film is remembered for the spectacular "Shower Scene" in which Welch distracts the soldiers on the train by taking a shower at a water tower along the tracks.
Welch's most controversial role came in Myra Breckinridge (1970). She took the role of the film's transsexual heroine in an attempt to be taken seriously as an actress. The production was characterized by animosity between Welch and Mae West. The film was based on Gore Vidal's controversial bestseller.
Her looks and fame led Playboy to dub her the "Most Desired Woman" of the 1970s.
She accepted the Best Supporting Actress Oscar on behalf of fellow actress Goldie Hawn when Hawn could not be there to accept it.
In 1970, CBS released her television special Raquel!. The show received a 51 percent share on the National ARB Ratings and an overnight New York Nielsen rating of 58 percent share.
In 1972, Welch starred in the film Kansas City Bomber, in which she played a single mother and roller derby star striving to balance her personal life and her professional ambitions. Her performance garnered attention, with Life magazine referring to her as the "hottest thing on wheels". However, production was halted for six weeks when Welch broke her wrist while performing some of her own stunts.
In December 1972, Welch made her nightclub debut at the Las Vegas Hilton; her act preceded Elvis Presley's.
In 1975, Welch won a Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture Actress in a Musical or Comedy for The Three Musketeers.
Posed for Playboy in 1979, but she never did a fully nude shoot. Welch refused to take all her clothes off on screen or pose naked throughout her career spanning five decades, saying this was the way she was brought up.
In 1981, Welch starred on Broadway in Woman of the Year for two weeks, filling in for Lauren Bacall. Critics were so enthusiastic about Welch's performance, she was invited back to perform the role again for six months the following year.
Welch was due to star in a 1982 adaptation of John Steinbeck's Cannery Row, but was abruptly fired by the producers a few weeks into production. The studio claimed she was not living up to her contract and was replaced with Debra Winger. Welch sued MGM for breach of contract. Welch's evidence at trial proved there was a conspiracy to falsely blame her for the film's budget problems and delays. The jury sided with Welch and she won a $10.8 million verdict against MGM in 1986.
In 1984, the Raquel Welch Total Beauty and Fitness Program book and videos were first released.
She was nominated for a Golden Globe Award for her performance in the television drama Right to Die (1987).
She released the dance single "This Girl's Back In Town", which peaked at No. 29 on Billboard's dance club chart in 1988, along with a music video.
The image of Welch in One Million Years B.C. was one of the pin-ups on the wall of Andy Dufresne's cell in movie The Shawshank Redemption (1994). The other two were Rita Hayworth and Marilyn Monroe.
In 1995, Welch was chosen by Empire magazine as one of the "100 Sexiest Stars in Film History".
In 1996, Welch received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 7021 Hollywood Boulevard.
Welch acted in the Season 8 finale of the comedy series Seinfeld, titled "The Summer of George" (1997), playing an exaggerated and highly temperamental version of herself.
In 2001, she was awarded the Imagen Foundation Lifetime Achievement Award for her positive promotion of Americans of Latin heritage throughout her career.
Welch succeeded with her signature line of wigs. She also began a jewelry and skincare line, although neither of those ventures compared to the success of her wig collection HAIRuWEAR.
In 2007, Welch was selected as the newest face of MAC Cosmetics Beauty Icon series.
In 2012, the Film Society of Lincoln Center presented a special retrospective of the films of Welch at the Walter Reade Theater.
Where Are They Now:
Welch died on February 15, 2023, at her home in Los Angeles, following a brief illness. She was 82. Welch leaves behind a legacy of mold-breaking beauty, strong principles, and iconic appeal that made her a definitive sex symbol for decades. RIP Raquel Welch.
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