Raquel Welch life and biography

Raquel Welch picture, image, poster

Raquel Welch biography

Date of birth : 1940-09-05
Date of death : -
Birthplace : Chicago, Illinois,U.S.
Nationality : American
Category : Arts and Entertainment
Last modified : 2011-10-19
Credited as : sex symbol, Billboard Girl, Raquel Welch Signature Collection

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Raquel Welch was the sex symbol of the swinging '60s and early '70s. She'll always be best remembered for the countless bikini-clad publicity photos highlighting her natural attributes.

The daughter of a Bolivian father, and a mother who could trace her ancestry back to the Mayflower, Jo Raquel Tejada was born in Chicago on September 5, 1940. Her family relocated to San Diego, where young Raquelita took ballet and acting lessons.

She competed in beauty contests as a teenager, and was crowned Miss Fairest of the Fair, Miss Maid of California, and Miss Contour, a title that would accurately foreshadow what much of her early career was built upon.

Marrying her high-school sweetheart James Welch in 1959, the couple had a son, Damon, and a daughter, Tahnee (also an actress), before divorcing in 1964. Raquel had done some professional modeling, but, with two kids in tow, had to take a job as a waitress in order to help pay the bills.

In 1962, she moved to Hollywood where she met her manager and future (second) husband Patrick Curtis three days after her arrival in Tinseltown. With Curtis behind her, Raquel Welch's acting career started taking off. After an appearance in LIFE Magazine wearing only a bikini, she became the "Billboard Girl" on ABC's The Hollywood Palace.

Welch's big screen debut came in 1964, in an uncredited role in the Elvis Presley vehicle Roustabout. After a few more minor parts, she was signed by 20th Century Fox, and was featured in the 1966 sci-fi film Fantastic Voyage. Her next role established her as a '60s sex goddess. As Loana the cavegirl in the British-made One Million Years B.C., Welch's on-screen wardrobe consisted of little more than a couple of strips of fur, constituting a prehistoric bikini fantasy.

Few people actually went to see the movie, but the film's poster gave the actress ample exposure. She and Curtis remained in Europe, tying the knot in Paris in 1967, and issuing some steamy publicity photos of their wedding night. Welch next appeared as Lillian Lust in the British 1967 comedy Bedazzled, personifying one of the seven deadly sins. After roles in a couple of American movies, she returned to the U.K. in 1969 to make a cameo as the Priestess of the Whip in The Magic Christian, co-starring Peter Sellers and Ringo Starr.

In an ill-fated attempt to break free of the sex kitten stereotype, Welch landed her first real starring role in 1970's Myra Breckenridge. The film was a commercial and critical flop, and may best be remembered for the off-screen feud between her and the sex bombshell of the 1930s, Mae West.

Welch appeared in a few more American films before divorcing hubby/manager Curtis, and returned to Europe in 1972. Raquel found herself in the unusual position of being a household name, but starring in films that not many people went to see. She received the recognition she sought as an actress when she won the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress in a Musical or Comedy for her performance in 1973's The Three Musketeers.

She starred in the sequel the following year, and returned to the US to co-star in 1976's Mother, Jugs and Speed alongside Bill Cosby and Harvey Keitel. Following the failure of that film, she turned her back on Hollywood, and began performing in nightclubs, on concert stages, and in the occasional European flick.

The 1980s ushered in a whole new era for Raquel Welch. She married husband number three, writer Andre Weinfeld, in 1980. She replaced Lauren Bacall in the Broadway musical Woman of the Year in 1982, which was acclaimed by the public and critics alike. She continued to receive positive reviews for her acting in three made-for-TV movies from the 1980s, including a second Golden Globe nomination for her powerful portrayal of a women succumbing to Lou Gehrig's disease in 1987's A Right To Die.

Welch entered the world of health and fitness when The Raquel Welch Total Beauty and Fitness Program hit bookshelves in the mid-'80s. She focused on yoga and nutrition, and a series of infomercials and exercise videos followed the book's success.

Welch divorced Weinfeld in 1990, and returned to Hollywood in 1994 to play herself in Naked Gun 33 1/3: The Final Insult. Not to mention, she was all over television in the second half of the 1990s. She starred in the nighttime soap Central Park West; made several guest appearances on Sabrina, The Teenage Witch; played Abby Lassiter in a few episodes of Spin City; and guest-starred as herself on Seinfeld in 1997, where she got to beat up Elaine and Kramer.

In 1998, she launched the "Raquel Welch Signature Collection" a line of quality wigs and hair extensions, and "Raquel -- Timeless Beauty Skin Care" in 2001. She married restaurant owner Richard Palmer in July of 1999 (husband number four). In 2001, she returned to the big screen in Legally Blonde. She has recently revisited her Latina roots in 2001's Tortilla Soup, and the critically acclaimed PBS drama series American Family, which both feature an all Latin cast.

The former sex kitten has reached her 60s, yet is still considered a serious sex symbol contender. She has seen her share of personal and professional ups and downs, but has endured and gained the respect and recognition she strived for back in her bikini days.

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