- Mini Bio
- Name: Raquel Welch
- Born: 5th September 1940, Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
- Died: 15th February 2023, Los Angeles, California, U.S.
- Birth name: Jo Raquel Tejada
- Alma mater: La Jolla High School (California) and San Diego State College
- Occupation: Actress and model
- Years active: 1964 to this present day
- Notable movies: Fantastic Voyage (1966), One Million Years B.C. (1966), Bedazzled (1967), Fathom (1967), 100 Rifles (1969), Myra Breckinridge (1970), The Three Musketeers (1973), The Last of Sheila (1973) and Crossed Swords (1977)
- Beauty contests: As a teenager, she was crowned; Miss Photogenic, Miss Contour, Miss La Jolla, Miss Fairest of the Fair, Miss San Diego and Miss Southern California
- Marriage resume: James Welch 1959 - 1964 (divorced), Patrick Curtis 1967 - 1972 (divorced), André Weinfeld 1980 - 1990) (divorced) and Richard Palmer 1999 - 2004 (divorced)
- Nickname: Rocky
- Trade mark: Seductive deep voice and Voluptuous figure
- Pre-fame: Raquel worked as a fashion model, a cocktail waitress and a TV weather girl before making it in movies
- Controversy: Following a successful US $10 million lawsuit against MGM she found herself blacklisted by Hollywood
- Stage: Her first stage success was her own show that played the Las Vegas Hilton in 1973 - 1974. Raquel made the jump from the silver screen to Broadway by starring in Woman of the Year 1981 - 1983 and she found further success on Broadway with Victor/Victoria in 1997
- Awards: She won the 1974 Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture Actress for her role in The Three Musketeers
- Trivia: She resisted the attempt by 20th Century Fox to change her name to Debbie Welch
"I wasn't raised thinking of myself or my background as particularly exotic. I felt very American and middle of the road. I knew that I had a little salsa in my blood, but on my mother's side there was the whole English heritage"Raquel Welch
"I'm trying to purge myself of all the mannerisms I've used up to this point. I have never had a high opinion of myself as an actress, but I'm determined to develop, and I keep looking for ways to improve"Raquel Welch
"I loved her. She was hypnotic. You couldn’t stop looking at her. We were so different. So I didn’t think that I was going to have a shot. I thought everybody wanted blondes" (about Marilyn Monroe)Raquel Welch
"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"Raquel Welch
"Americans have always had sex symbols. It's a time-honored tradition and I'm flattered to have been one. But it's hard to have a long, fruitful career once you've been stereotyped that way"Raquel Welch
"I do think she was a spectacular talent. There's no question she was a comedic genius, but I did, in person, actually feel like she was some kind of a dockworker in drag" (about Mae West)Raquel Welch
"When I walk down the street in this city, people come out of the shops and say, 'See ya on Broadway, Raquel.' Do you know how that makes me feel? Like a million bucks" (about New York)Raquel Welch
"Once you get rid of the idea that you must please other people before you please yourself, and you begin to follow your own instincts - only then can you be successful"Raquel Welch
"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
"There is no communication there. No relationships. You're always waiting for someone to get back to you. So you sit and you sit. People exist in trances" (about Hollywood)Raquel Welch
"People don't think I have ability, and I think they are wrong. I've tried to fight it. Marilyn couldn't fight it because she wasn't strong enough. Well I am, and I think I can lick it"Raquel Welch
"I got to do what I wanted to do. I wanted to entertain, I wanted to be on film, I wanted to be on Broadway. I’ve always just felt very, very lucky that I was able to do it"Raquel Welch
"The Brits, and a lot of the rest of Europe, seemed to really love exotic women. The fact that I was American and exotic just made me more appealing to them"Raquel Welch
"The funny thing about selling out is that at the time you don't always know that's what you're doing. I mean sometimes you only find out in retrospect"Raquel Welch
"Not everybody is comfortable with my ethnicity. When I first came along in the business, they didn’t really like the idea of my name being Raquel"Raquel Welch
"There was a portion of the media that was very supportive when I began. But the media can be very destructive, too. There's a lot of power there"Raquel Welch
"For years I felt like the Rodney Dangerfield of sex symbols. I got no respect" (on her treatment from Hollywood producers and directors)Raquel Welch
"In the past I sometimes felt that I overstepped my limits, or that I was ready to swim in the deep waters, but I was still dabbling in the shallows"Raquel Welch
"I know that being successful money-wise isn't the answer. And being successful in the eyes of a lot of other people isn't the answer either"Raquel Welch
"I think all sex goddesses have basically been unhappy. I know we sound like ungracious asses, but it's like being a shell and I'm tired of it"Raquel Welch
"I remember James Coburn once said to me, "You know what's the sexiest thing of all? A little mystery." And he was so right about that"Raquel Welch
"I was really caught by his magnetism, his sort of star quality that you could see even when he was in long shot" (about Burt Reynolds)Raquel Welch
"I just wanted to clear my reputation and get back to my work, my work in movies" (after winning a US $10 million lawsuit with MGM)Raquel Welch
"My whole career has been about being noticed, just like any other actor or actress, so I am grateful that people are still interested"Raquel Welch
"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"Raquel Welch
"For some reason, somebody with her sex appeal, her indescribable attraction, is rarely taken seriously" (about Marilyn Monroe)Raquel Welch
"Hollywood doesn't honor comedy and it doesn't honor sex appeal. And they definitely don't give awards to either of them"Raquel Welch
"The Three Musketeers turned out to be a real eye-opener for me, because I had no idea that I was good at comedy"Raquel Welch
"That first moment, when fame hits you and the furnace opens up, you're caught in the heat. It's almost paralyzing"Raquel Welch
"I do feel very fortunate, because I had no suspicion that a dinosaur movie would ever pay off for me as an actress"Raquel Welch
"I made decisions based on, What will my kids think of this? I tried not to trash myself. I felt I owed them that"Raquel Welch
"My failings as a mother weren't intentional--and my kids grew up to be good people--but the failings were there"Raquel Welch
"I was a single mother of a couple of kids and found myself being a sex symbol, which just didn’t compute at all"Raquel Welch
"just another American actress with a nice rack" (self description, from an interview in Mens Health magazine)Raquel Welch
"My first husband was a good person. The second turned into a Svengali - I felt I was being manipulated"Raquel Welch
"He’s been with everything. Anything that moves. I mean he’s a famous lothario" (about Warren Beatty)Raquel Welch
"Being a sex symbol was rather like being a convict. That I was locked in this image and couldn’t get out"Raquel Welch
"I think it was a different role for women. Women watch other women, and they are affected by that"Raquel Welch
"The most erogenous zone is the brain. It's all happening there. Otherwise, it's just body parts"Raquel Welch
"I couldn't stand that my husband was being unfaithful. I am Raquel Welch - understand?"Raquel Welch
"I think I was just so enamoured with Frank Sinatra, you know. He's hypnotic"Raquel Welch
"I'll admit I'm extremely strong-minded, I don't know any other way to be"Raquel Welch
"My father came from a country called Bolivia. He was of Spanish descent"Raquel Welch
"I wasn’t that pushover kind of a girl. And I think that left an impression"Raquel Welch
"It is nice to be noticed, I think it is much better than not being noticed"Raquel Welch
"I think I was always more intimidated by my image than anyone else"Raquel Welch
"The doeskin bikini struck a chord. I became every male's fantasy"Raquel Welch
"That was the hardest part, to realize that I was really an object"Raquel Welch
"I still call myself an actress. I'm not an actor. I'm not a guy"Raquel Welch
"If you have physical attractiveness, you don't have to act"Raquel Welch
"I think that whole sex-symbol thing is an anachronism"Raquel Welch
"I'm optimistic about whatever is going to happen"Raquel Welch
"Interesting is better than beautiful"Raquel Welch
"I don’t see anything as important as publicity"Raquel Welch
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Raquel Welch's Legacy
The blonde bombshell look of Monroe and Mansfield may have dominated 1950's cinema but Raquel Welch soon ripped up the peroxide play-book when she donned that doeskin bikini. The scantily clad image of Raquel standing atop a Canary island volcano propelled her to worldwide fame and became one of the best selling posters of the 1960's.
The movie One Million Years B.C. was not only her ticket to success, but also her gilded cage. Raquel was typecast as a sex symbol. This ultimately deprived her of the more technical acting roles she so dearly craved.
The big question is how far could she have pushed her talent if given the opportunity? I am sure she would have risen well beyond the imagination of pessimistic producers petrified to look beyond the pigeonhole of pulchritude. Alas, Hollywood budgets like the safety of typecast certainty that can be milked until dollar dry.
Quotes About Raquel Welch
The actor turned critic Rex Reed shared this interesting comparison:
"Raquel is a very complex girl. She is terribly, terribly interested in being taken seriously. She has elected to be a movie star, but underneath that creamy skin and those bulging blouses beats a Puritan heart. She is a Jane Austen heroine, and the conflict has made her uptight"
Reed also discussed the friction whilst filming the 1970 movie Myra Breckinridge:
"Mae West spoke to no one but God, Raquel spoke only to the head of the studio, the head of the studio spoke only to God, who then related the message back to Mae West"
Playboy owner Hugh Hefner was impressed to say:
"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. The pictures prove her point"
Heffner also added:
"She was the single woman that I most wanted to have in the magazine. She seems to be ageless. Good genes, health food -- I'm not sure what it is, but it's magic"
Movie producer Robert Fryer pondered this age old dilemma:
"If a man were going to become a woman, he would want to become the most beautiful woman in the world. He would become Raquel Welch"
The writer David Giammarco was impressed to say:
"There's simply no mistaking that the bombshell gods broke the mold after they created Raquel Welch"
The Hollywood agent, Noel Marshall, mused on the fickleness of changing attitudes:
"The domestic market for films has dropped into the 40 percentile of the gross market. The world wanted an international symbol—a brunette or an auburn-haired girl like Raquel rather than the Monroe type"
The New York Times critic Frank Rich was wowed by her first performance in the musical Woman of the Year:
"We’ve never heard wolf whistles like that before on the Great White Way!"
The critic Glenne Currie was less than sympathetic towards Ms Welch stepping up to the Broadway role previously filled by Ms Bacall:
"We lost the ERA, Lena Horne and Lauren Bacall all on the same day, and what did we get instead? We got Raquel Welch; that's what we got. Sometimes life is not fair"
A Professor of Palaeobiology, Jan Zalasiewicz, reminisced about One Million Years B.C.:
"Raquel Welch is there, compiling the local soroptimist membership list and pretending that a fur bikini isn't even the teensiest bit naughty"
Burt Reynolds on first laying eyes on Raquel Welch:
"I remember Raquel's effect on the American psyche when she walked across the stage on 'The Hollywood Palace' with a card in her hands, it was staggering. When she came on stage, I mean, you didn't look at anybody else"
Her former dance teacher, Irene Clark, summed her up thus:
"There was no humility in her approach to art. She enjoyed attention too much, and she knew how to get it"
In the run up to the 1968 movie The Biggest Bundle of Them All, co-star Edward G. Robinson shared this pre-assessment:
"I must say she has quite a body. She has been the product of a good publicity campaign. I hope she lives up to it because a body will only take you so far"
Owen McLean, who was the Fox Talent Director in the 1960's, was surprised by her rapidity up the slippery pole of fame:
"We thought we would build her up slowly; that it would take some time. But she got more publicity by accident than most girls get on purpose"
The critic Camille Paglia described her appearance in One Million Years B.C. as:
"the indelible image of a woman as queen of nature. She was a lioness: fierce, passionate and dangerously physical"
Don Diego, who ran the Californian Fairest of the Fair Festival, remembered her well:
"There were prettier girls around, but none had her figure or her drive. Most girls tremble before they go onstage. Raquel never did. You could tell by the way she got up there that she was the queen"