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Raquel Welch Turns 80, But Won’t Slow Down

Jo-Raquel Tejada was born to a Bolivian father and an American mother on September 5, 1940. Her family moved to California when Raquel Welch was a child. Interested in acting since her early childhood days, Raquel began learning actings and won many beauty pageants before graduating from high school and joining different local theatre productions. In 1964, she moved to Dallas with her two young kinds in pursuit of her dreams and began to find work in Hollywood. Over the next few decades, Raquel did close to 50 films, all of which portrayed her as a sex symbol.

Before moving to New York City in 1985 with husband Andre Weinfeld, Raquel Welch had spent close to two decades staying trapped in the role of a sex goddess. A global star, Raquel Welch had millions of fans the world over and yet had delivered only a very few successful films. Nevertheless, Raquel has endured and continues to be a solid global star in an industry that is inherently ageist.

She Has Always Played by Her Own Rules

Jo-Raquel Tejada was born on September 5, 1940, to Armando Carlos Tejada, an engineer from Bolivia, and Josephine Sarah Hall, who was an American citizen. Tired of being called Jo, the future actress asked her mother to remove ‘Jo’ — which had come from her mother’s name Josephine — from her name. Thus, when she is still in school, Jo-Raquel receives her name changed to simply Raquel. Unfortunately, Raquel grew up in California where most of the kids did not know how to pronounce her name and therefore, through her school years, Raquel responded to Rocky.

After graduating from high school, Raquel Tejada married her high school sweetheart, James Welch. Unfortunately, the couple split in 1964, and thereafter, Raquel took her two kids and moved to Dallas. Raquel, however, decided to keep her husband’s last name, an odd decision. In 1965, when Fox offered Welch a seven-year contract, the company asked the actress to change her name to Debbie as Raquel Welch sounded too foreign. One to always do things her way, Raquel promptly declined. Ultimately, Fox relented.

She Showed Great Courage in Moving to Dallas with Her Two Kids in Pursuit of Her Dreams

Raquel was a good student and graduated with honors from high school. After graduating, she chose to study acting at the San Diego State College on a theatre arts scholarship. Alongside pursuing higher studies, Rachel also appeared in local theatre productions. She eventually got the job of a weather forecaster at a local television station. However, juggling her new job with family responsibilities proved too difficult, and Raquel decided to drop out of the San Diego State College without completing her degree.

Like every other actor, Raquel too had to go through the struggle period. However, her marriage and her two children made her struggle days even more challenging. After splitting from her husband in 1964, Raquel decided to take her two children and move to Dallas. Life was difficult at first but Raquel eventually found work, first as a cocktail waitress, and then as a model for Neiman Marcus.

It Was Her Pictures in a Fur Bikini That Made Her a Massive Star

While A Swingin’ Summer and Fantastic Voyage certainly added to Raquel’s popularity, it was One Million Years B.C. that made her a household name. Funnily, Raquel had a total of only three lines in the film and yet the film launched her into massive stardom. How? It was the stills of a fur bikini-clad Raquel from the film that made teenagers and college students hopelessly fall in love with Raquel Welch. Though throughout her career, Raquel referred to One Million Years B.C. as the ‘silly dinosaur’ film, she recognized the film’s role in making her a massive star. Only a week before One Million Years B.C.‘s release, Raquel had appeared on the cover of eight different European magazines but One Million Years B.C. established her the hottest actress in Hollywood.

She Built a Successful Career, Even After Being Labelled a Sex Symbol

Though Raquel enjoyed the love and fame that came with One Million Years B.C., the success of the film also made her realize that most people saw her only as a sex symbol. Time Magazine was first to point this out. In an article on the actress, the magazine observed that though millions of hearts pined for Raquel Welch, most people were clueless about her acting skills.

Raquel found it hard to accept this fact. In an interview given years later, she shared that 20th Century Fox would often take her photos for film promotions, and yet almost all of the photos that the studio took highlighted only her body. There were no portraits and no headshots. Life was lonely as a sex symbol. Over and above this, Fox asked her to stay in Europe for another two years, loaning her out to other productions.

After One Million Years B.C., Raquel Welch starred in almost 50 movies, all of which focussed on highlighting her sex appeal in one way or the other. Life as a sex symbol was difficult and at one point, Raquel had begun to believe that unless she was wearing a bikini, people wouldn’t recognize her even if she passed them on the road. It’s hard to be a sex symbol and build a career and Raquel managed to do the impossible, which is why she believes she has endured and we agree with her.

So, how did Raquel Welch manage to build an empire even after struggling to come out of her image of a sex symbol for decades? Well, she did so by using her natural charm to her best advantage. Want to know more? Stay tuned. Meanwhile, if you enjoy watching our videos, do not forget to like and subscribe to our channel.

She Denies Going Under the Knife

As a sex symbol second only to perhaps the legendary Marilyn Monroe from the previous century, Welch – or rather her body – were often the subject of many discussions. And while Welch is more than aware of her sex appeal, she demands to take it into consideration and was often miffed about strange, baseless rumors.

The rumor mill was running full steam during Welch’s golden era. From the gossip of Welch being exceptionally big in the bust area to her having undergone surgery to maintain her uber-sleek look, there are countless rumors. On her part, Welch shut them down real quick when asked to comment during interviews and other public appearances.

During an interview with Rolling Stone magazine, Welch comments on the ongoing talk about her voluptuousness by saying she is rather “normal-sized with good proportions.” Another rumor catching like wildfire was that Welch had surgically removed a rib to look sleeker than usual. In the same interview, Welch says that she’ll never get surgery, and she exasperates with people implying every asset of hers is either with silicon or altered by a surgical knife. She went on to explain that people refuse to believe her no matter how frequently and vehemently she denies it, and she had no way to prove her innocence in the case unless she were to offer “squeeze tests to everyone.”

After Several Boyfriends & Four Marriages, She’s Tired of Men

As one of the sexist women of her time, Welch obviously had the pick of the crop when it came to men. The actor has dated some pretty big names from the industry, including Elvis Presley, Bob Dylan, Richard Burton, Steve McQueen, Sean Connery, and Warren Beatty. Among the lesser-known names of Welch’s exes are Gary Stretch, Alice Cooper, and Joe Namath.

Before Raquel starts appearing on screen, she marries James Welch, whom she divorced shortly afterward. Over the next 40 years, she got married thrice to producer Patrick Curtis, producer Andre Weinfeld, and restaurant owner Richard Palmer. Except for Weinfeld with whom Welch was married for a decade, all her marriages last no more than roughly four years.

Welch’s last marriage ended in 2003, after which she swore off men. A few years ago, the actor claims she is done with relationships mainly because she didn’t want to change and because she didn’t necessarily need a man in her life. While marriage has been off the cards since then, she has been open to dating. Most recently, Welch was dating English director and producer Nigel Lythgoe OBE.

She’s Matured over the Years

In her golden days, Welch had quite a reputation for her temper tantrums, diva-like behavior, and bad behavior in general. While most of her behavior was classic star drama, some of it was justified as well. Such as when Welch was being stubborn with Twentieth Century Fox and producers during 100 Rifles’ production.

The actor had already become a sex symbol by then, having flaunted her body for One Million Years B.C., Bedazzled, and Fathom. The producers of 100 Rifles sought to further leverage Welch’s sex symbol status and asked her to bare it all for a scene. But Welch would have none of it; she refused to buckle under the pressure and kept her clothes on for the scene.

To be fair, such instances of justifiable stubbornness were far fewer than those that were unjustified. Such as when Welch demand specific studio lights that make her skin look young, or when she constantly came late on the sets and made the entire cast and screw wait for hours while her hair and makeup are done. One of her co-stars, Robert Wagner, frustrates with her behavior, he calls her a bitch.

But age makes everyone more matured, and Welch is no exception, or so she claims. In an interview almost a decade ago, Welch said she was consciously working toward being a nicer person who’s more amicable with those around her.

She Is a Successful Businesswoman Now

Unlike most actors who fail to pivot successfully after the end of their careers, Welch leveraged her fame well in time to run a fruitful business that would yield rewards for many years to come. When Welch was no more the hottest girl in Hollywood, she launched HAIRuWEAR, a wig brand, to create another revenue channel.

Later, when even the older roles had dried up, Welch made use of her sleek physique to launch a book on yoga and fitness. This idea worked well too, and Welch now had two successful ventures under her belt. Over the later years, Welch tried her luck with jewelry and skincare products, but nothing compared to her earlier success with HAIRuWEAR.

While Raquel Welch is not comparable to many stalwarts in Hollywood when it comes to the craft of acting, she is a legend in her own right. Welch’s commercial success, global fame and icon status, and revolutionary approach to women’s portrayal in motion pictures are testaments to her accomplishments in life.

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