Raquel Welch, a renowned American actress who is often acknowledged for paving the way for contemporary action heroines in Hollywood movies, passed away at 82.
According to her manager, the star died peacefully on Wednesday morning after a brief illness.
Welch rose to fame as an international sex symbol in the 1960s, particularly known for her portrayal of a bikini-clad cavewoman in the 1966 film One Million Years B.C.
She also received a Golden Globe award for her role in the 1974 movie The Three Musketeers.
Born in 1940 as Jo-Raquel Tejada, Welch grew up in California and won beauty pageants during her teenage years. Later, she became a local weather forecaster.
Raquel Welch: A pictorial journey through her life
While temporarily living in Dallas, Texas, Raquel Welch, a divorced mother of two, worked as a cocktail waitress and modeled for the Neiman Marcus clothing store.
Her breakthrough moment arrived in 1964, shortly after she returned to California, when she secured minor roles in A House Is Not A Home, and Roustabout, a musical featuring Elvis Presley.
She gained widespread recognition two years later, thanks to her consecutive roles in the science fiction movie Fantastic Voyage and the fantasy film One Million Years B.C.
Although Raquel Welch’s character had minimal dialogue in the latter, photographs of her wearing a revealing two-piece deerskin bikini turned her into a prominent pin-up model of that time.
Nevertheless, despite her public image, Welch often voiced her unease with the objectification of her physique. She once stated that she “was not raised to be a sex symbol, nor is it a part of my nature.”
“The fact that I was perceived as one is likely the most delightful, glamorous, and fortunate misunderstanding,” she added.
In her autobiography, Raquel: Beyond the Cleavage, Welch delved into her upbringing, her struggles as a single mother in Hollywood during her early career, and her thoughts on why she would never conceal her true age.
With a career spanning more than five decades, Welch appeared in over 30 films and 50 television programs.
This included portraying the romantic interest of Frank Sinatra’s character in the 1968 film Lady in Cement, playing the transgender protagonist in the 1970 picture Myra Breckenridge, and earning a Golden Globe nomination for her role in the 1987 television drama Right to Die.
Later on, Welch created her own brand of wigs, a line of skincare and jewelry, as well as a cosmetics line for Mac Cosmetics.
Actress Reese Witherspoon paid homage to Welch on Twitter, expressing her affection for working with Welch in the film Legally Blonde.
Witherspoon stated that Welch was “graceful, accomplished, and dazzlingly glamorous.” She concluded by saying that Welch was “absolutely breathtaking.”
Actress and producer Viola Davis shared a clip on social media of her and Cher singing “I’m a Woman” in 1975, noting that Welch was ageless to her and an icon.
In 1978, Welch sang “I’m a Woman” with the famous puppet Miss Piggy, a tribute that was remembered on Wednesday by the beloved comedy program.
“The Muppet Show will never forget our extraordinary friend Raquel Welch, one of our most cherished guests,” tweeted the Disney series.
Actor Paul Feig shared his fond memories of working with Welch on the TV series Sabrina the Teenage Witch.
“Kind, amusing, and a genuine superstar whom I adored for most of my youth,” he wrote. He went on to say, “We’ve lost an authentic icon.”
Welch is survived by her son, Damon Welch, and her daughter Latanne “Tahnee” Welch, who is also an actress.
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