Raquel Welch, a renowned American actress who is credited with paving the way for modern-day action heroines in Hollywood films, has passed away at the age of 82. According to her manager, the Hollywood star passed away peacefully on Wednesday morning after a brief illness.
Raquel Welch, born Jo Raquel Tejada in 1940, grew up in California where she won teen beauty pageants and later worked as a local weather forecaster. During a brief stint in Dallas, Texas, she modelled for the Neiman Marcus clothing store and worked as a cocktail waitress.
However, her big break came in 1964 soon after she moved back to California when she scored cameos in A House Is Not A Home and Roustabout, a musical starring Elvis Presley. Welch shot to prominence two years later with her back-to-back roles in the sci-fi film Fantastic Voyage and the fantasy film One Million Years BC. It was in the latter that Welch became an international sex symbol in the 1960s, widely remembered for playing a bikini-clad cavewoman. Despite her public image, Welch long expressed discomfort with the representation of her body.
In a career spanning over five decades, Welch appeared in more than 30 movies and 50 television shows. She won a Golden Globe for her role in 1974’s The Three Musketeers and was nominated for a Golden Globe for her performance in the 1987 TV drama Right to Die. She played the love interest of Frank Sinatra’s character in 1968’s Lady in Cement and the titular transgender heroine in 1970’s Myra Breckenridge.
Welch also addressed her image in her memoir, Raquel: Beyond the Cleavage, in which she opened up about her childhood, her early career woes as a single mother in Hollywood, and why she would never lie about her age. Later in life, she also released her own signature line of wigs, a jewellery and skincare collection, and a Mac Cosmetics makeup line.
Welch leaves behind a son, Damon Welch, and daughter Latanne “Tahnee” Welch, who is also an actress. Her legacy as a trailblazer for action heroines in Hollywood and an international sex symbol of the 1960s will not be forgotten.
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