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Raquel Welch
Raquel Welch
Credits
Role Stewardess
Biographical Information
Birth Name Jo Raquel Tejada
Birthdate September 5, 1940
Birthplace Chicago, Illinois, United States[1]
Death Date February 15, 2023 (age 82)
Death Place Los Angeles, California, United States

Raquel Welch played a stewardess in the first season episode, "Witch or Wife?" (1964).

Biography[]

Raquel Welch was born Jo Raquel Tejada on September 5, 1940, in Chicago, Illinois, the first of three children born to Bolivian-national Armando Carlos Tejada Urquizo, a Spaniard-descendant aerospace engineer, and his Irish-American wife Josephine Sarah Hall. The family moved to San Diego, California (her father was transferred) when Raquel was only two. Taking dance lessons as a youngster, she grew up to be quite a knockout and nailed a number of teen beauty titles ("Miss Photogenic," "Miss La Jolla," "Miss Contour," "Miss Fairest of the Fair" and "Miss San Diego"). With her sights set on theater arts, she studied at San Diego State College on a scholarship starting in 1958 and married her first husband, high school sweetheart James Welch, the following year. They had two children Damon Welch (born 1959) and Tahnee Welch (born 1961).

Off campus Raquel became a local television weather girl in San Diego and eventually quit college. Following the end of her marriage in 1962 (she and Welch did not divorce until 1964), she packed up her two children and moved to Dallas, Texas, where she modeled for Neiman-Marcus and worked as a barmaid for a time. Regrouping, she returned to California, migrated to Los Angeles, and made the rounds of film and television auditions. Providing minor, but sexy set decoration on the small screen ("Bewitched" [1964], "McHale's Navy" [1962], and "The Virginian" [1962]) as well as the large (Elvis Presley's "Roustabout" [1964] and Doris Day's "Do Not Disturb" [1965]). Caught in the midst of the "beach party" craze, it is not surprising to find out that her first prime film role was "A Swingin' Summer" (1965), which concentrated more on musical guests The Righteous Brothers and Gary Lewis & The Playboys than on Raquel's outstanding contributions. But Twentieth Century Fox certainly took notice and signed her up.

With her very first film under contract (actually, she was on loan out to Britain's Hammer Studios at the time), she took on the remake of "One Million B.C." (1940) in the Carole Landis role and the rest is history. Raquel remained an international celebrity in her first few years of stardom. In England, she was quite revealing as the deadly sin representing "Lust" for the comedy team of Peter Cook and Dudley Moore in their vehicle "Bedazzled" (1967), and as the title secret agent in the sexy spy spoof "Fathom" (1967). In Italy, she gained some exposure in primarily mediocre vehicles opposite such heartthrobs as Marcello Mastroianni. Back in the United States, however, she caused quite a stir in her groundbreaking sex scenes with black athlete Jim Brown in the "spaghetti western" "100 Rifles" (1969), and as the transgendered title role in the unfathomable "Myra Breckinridge" (1970). Adapted from Gore Vidal novel, she created some unwelcome notoriety by locking horns with aging diva Mae West on the set. The instant cult movie was a laughingstock to all concerned and certainly did not help Raquel's attempt at being taking seriously as an actress.

Box office bombs abounded. Try as she might in such films as "Kansas City Bomber" (1972) and "The Wild Party" (1975), which drew some good reviews for her, her sexy typecast gave her little room to breathe. With determination, however, she partly offset this with modest supporting roles in larger ensemble pieces. She showed definite spark and won a Golden Globe for the swashbuckler "The Three Musketeers" (1973), and appeared to good advantage in the mystery thriller "The Last of Sheila" (1973). She planned on making a comeback in "Cannery Row" (1982), even agreeing to appear topless (which she had never done before), but was suddenly fired during production without notice. She sued MGM for breach of contract and ultimately won a $15 million settlement, but it did not help her film career and only helped to label her as trouble on a set. Television movies became a positive milieu for Raquel as she developed sound vehicles for herself such as "The Legend of Walks Far Woman" (1982) and "Right to Die" (1987). She also found a lucrative avenue pitching beauty products in infomercials and developing exercise videos à la Jane Fonda.

Raquel took advantage of her modest singing and dancing abilities by performing in splashy Las Vegas showrooms and starring in such plausible stage vehicles as "Woman of the Year" and "Victor Victoria." Still a dazzler broaching age seventy, Raquel continues to show up here and there and still can turn heads. She has even spoofed her own diva image on occasion, most memorably on "Seinfeld" (1989). More recently she has co-starred in the Hispanic-oriented television series "American Family" (2002) and in the short-lived comedy "Welcome to the Captain" (2008), and appeared in the movies "Tortilla Soup" (2001), "Legally Blonde" (2001) and "Forget About It" (2006).

She is separated from her fourth husband, Richie Palmer, who is fourteen years her junior.[2]

Raquel Welch died peacefully on the morning of February 15, 2023, after a brief illness. She was 82.[3]

External Link[]

Raquel Welch obituary in The Guardian, February 15, 2023.

References[]

  1. Raquel Welch on the Internet Movie Database. Retrieved on February 13, 2020.
  2. Raquel Welch biography on the Internet Movie Database. Retrieved on September 6, 2020, edited.
  3. Pengelly, Martin. "Raquel Welch, actor and 1960s sex symbol, dies aged 82", obituary, The Guardian, February 15, 2023.
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