Jo Raquel Tejada, commonly known as Raquel Welch, is an American actress widely recognized for her performances in ‘One Million Years B.C.’, ‘Bedazzled’, ‘Fathom’, ‘Legally Blonde’, and many more movies. She became America’s sex symbol when she appeared scantily clad in a sheepskin bikini in the movie ‘One Million Years B.C.’ This image helped her to new heights and brought immense success. Although she was often criticized for her acting skills, yet she managed to win the hearts of many. She also appeared in the ‘Playboy’ magazine and became the fantasy of Americans. However, she never did a photoshoot or a movie with full nudity; all her scenes were tastefully done. Raquel has written an autobiography titled ‘Raquel: Beyond the Cleavage,’ in which she explores her childhood, her marriages, her children, and her career from a pageant winner to a sex symbol. She is also famous for endorsing Lux Soaps, HAIRuWEAR wigs and Foster Grant Sunglasses.
Childhood & Early Life
Raquel Welch was born Jo Raquel Tejada on September 5, 1940 at Chicago, Illinois. Her father was a Bolivian aeronautical engineer, Armando Tejada Urquizo and her mother was Irish American, Josephine Sarah.
They moved to San Diego, California, when Raquel was just about two. She attended and subsequently graduated from La Jolla High School in California. Her parents divorced later.
She also started winning local pageants including the title of Miss Photogenic and Miss Contour at the age of 14. While attending school, she was crowned ‘Miss Fairest of the Fair’ in the San Diego County Fair.
She initially wanted to be a ballerina, but gave up when her trainer told her that she did not have the right body for ballet.
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Raquel’s first major film was ‘A Swingin’ Summer’ where she played the role of Jeri. The movie was a comedy and she also made her singing debut with it. A year after that, she starred in her second major film, the 1966 science fiction ‘Fantastic Voyage’.
In 1966, she appeared in the adventure/fantasy film ‘One Million Years B.C.’ She appeared as the lead in the film which was set in a fictional age of cavemen and dinosaurs. This role proved to be a life changer for Raquel and established her as the American sex symbol of the 1960s and 1970s.
She starred in the 1967 British spy film ‘Fathom’. She played the lead role of Fathom Harvill, a skydiver who recovers an atomic triggering mechanism.
In the next few years, she was cast in major projects including one alongside Robert Wagner in the 1968 crime film, ‘The Biggest Bundle of Them All’ and in films like ‘Bedazzled’, ‘Lady in Cement’, ‘Flareup’, and ‘Bandolero!’.
The 1970 film, ‘The Beloved (a.k.a. Sin)’ starred Raquel as a beautiful but frustrated housewife who starts an affair and then plans her husband’s murder. In the same year, she was cast in and as ‘Myra Breckinridge’, a comedy film based on Gore Vidal’s novel of the same name. During this period, she played a series of versatile roles which garnered her positive attention from the audience.
She appeared in the 1971 film ‘Hannie Caulder’, where she played a gang rape victim who takes revenge on her rapists. She then starred alongside Richard Burton in the 1972 film ‘Bluebeard’.
She played K.C. Carr in the MGM film ‘Kansas City Bomber’ which was directed by Jerrold Freedman and released in 1972. She was also a part of the ‘Musketeers’ film series that were released in 1973-74. She played Constance Bonacieux in these films and won several accolades for her performance.
She was cast alongside James Coco in the 1975 film, ‘The Wild Party’, where she played Queenie.
Raquel played a role in the TV film ‘The Legend of Walks Far Woman’ that aired on NBC, alongside Bradford Dillman. She has also made notable contribution to television in films like ‘Right to Die’, ‘Scandal in a Small Town’, and ‘Torch Song’.
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Her recent ventures include ‘How to Be a Latin Lover’. The film released in April 2017 and it was a success.
Apart from her work on screen, Raquel appeared on Broadway in ‘Victor/Victoria’ and ‘Woman of the Year’ in 1997 to 1982.
She was the face of Lux Soaps, Foster Grant sunglasses, and her line of signature wigs collection and HAIRuWEAR extensions.
Raquel also launched a Beauty and Fitness Program book and yoga videos. She also has her own jewelry and skincare line.
Welch released a dance single ‘This Girl’s Back in Town.’
In 2010, Raquel also published her autobiography titled ‘Raquel: Beyond the Cleavage.’
Awards & Achievements
In 1975, Raquel won the Golden Globe Award in the Best Actress in a Motion Picture - Musical or Comedy category for ‘The Three Musketeers’.
In 1983, she won the Western Heritage Awards in the Fictional Television Drama Category and shared the award with the producers, Roger Gimbel and Lee Levinson, and the writer Evan Hunter.
She was nominated for another Golden Globe award for her role in the TV film ‘Right to Die’ in 1987.
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In 1996, she received a star at 7021 Hollywood Boulevard on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
In 2001, she received the Imagen Foundation Lifetime Achievement Award for her positive promotion of Latin Americans throughout her career.
After graduating from school in 1958, Raquel got pregnant and married her high school sweetheart James Welch a year later, on 8th May 1959. She gave birth to their first child, Damon Welch. The couple had another child, a daughter named Latanne Welch in 1961.
The couple separated in 1962 and divorced in 1964 due to unknown reasons and differences. In a number of interviews, Raquel has expressed her regret for running hastily from her marriage to James Welch and that she should have tried harder to make the marriage work. She has often said that James Welch was the best of her four husbands.
In 1966, she married producer Patrick Curtis. The couple divorced in 1972. In later interviews, she has described Patrick Curtis as a svengal and has described their relationship as unhappy, in which she felt extremely manipulated.
Her third marriage was to the French-American television producer and journalist André Weinfeld. They met in 1977 and got married in 1980. They were married for 10 years before separating in 1990.
In 1997, Raquel met Los Angeles-based restaurateur Richard Palmer, who was then engaged, but later left his fiancée to pursue Raquel. Fifteen years her junior, Richard married Raquel in 1999. The pair separated in 2008. Raquel has expressed her intentions to not marry again and that she can live without a man.
As of August 2017, Raquel Welch’s estimated net worth is 30 million dollars.
She is the 21st great granddaughter of King Edward I.