R.I.P.: Raquel Welch has passed away at age 82

Legendary Hollywood icon Raquel Welch, star of Fantastic Voyage and One Million B.C., has passed away at age 82

We have some sad news to share today, as Hollywood has lost one of its most legendary icons: Raquel Welch has passed away at the age of 82. Deadline reports that Welch’s passing was confirmed by her reps at Media 4 Management, who simply said that she had died after a brief illness.

Welch was born Jo Raquel Tejada on September 5, 1940, in Chicago, Illinois, but her family moved to San Diego, California when little Raquel was just two years old. She knew as a youngster that she wanted to get into the entertainment industry, and studied ballet for several years while entertaining – and winning – beauty contests. She attended San Diego State College on a theater arts scholarship, but despite doing some stage acting and landing a job as a weather presenter on the local news, it took a while for her to break through into films. In fact, Welch had married and divorced her high school sweetheart James Welch, given up her drama classes, moved to Dallas, Texas with their two children, and then moved back to California (this time to Los Angeles) by the time she landed her first movie role. She made her screen debut as a Call Girl in the 1964 film A House Is Not a Home and quickly worked her way up to a leading role in a major studio picture with 1966’s Fantastic Voyage.

Fantastic Voyage was released the same year as One Million B.C., where images of her character wearing a fur bikini made her an international sex symbol. Her sex symbol status continued for decades, with Playboy naming her the Most Desired Woman of the 1970s. Welch would go on to pose for Playboy in 1979, but didn’t do a fully nude shoot.

Welch earned over seventy film acting credits during a career that lasted more than fifty years. Those credits include films and TV shows like McHale’s Navy, Bewitched, Roustabout, Bedazzled, Lady in Cement, Bandolero!, 100 Rifles, Flareup, Myra Breckinridge, Hannie Caulder, Fuzz, The Beloved, Kansas City Bomber, Bluebeard, The Last of Sheila, The Three Musketeers, The Four Musketeers: Milady’s Revenge; Mother, Jugs & Speed; Mork & Mindy, Scandal in a Small Town, Trouble in Paradise, The Legend of Walks Far Woman, Right to Die, Tainted Blood, Evening Shade, Naked Gun 33 1/3: The Final Insult, Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman, Sabrina the Teenage Witch, Seinfeld, Chairman of the Board, Spin City, Tortilla Soup, Legally Blonde, 8 Simple Rules, American Family, CSI: Miami, House of Versace, How to Be a Latin Lover, and Date My Dad. Along the way, she also did some work on Broadway.

Deadline notes that “Welch was never shy to fight for herself and her place at the Hollywood table. In that context, she made a very different set of headlines in the 1980s when she sued MGM over being dumped from starring with Nick Nolte in (the 1982 film) Cannery Row. Set to play an empathic prostitute in the David S. Ward-helmed movie based on the work of John Steinbeck, Welch was booted off the project by the studio over a contract violation. She insisted on having her hair and makeup done at her home before coming to set every day. MGM said no and replaced Welch with Debra Winger. After trying to make peace by taking another role and being rebuffed by the studio then run by David Begelman, Welch hit back and sued MGM for $24 million. Making headlines all over the world, Welch alleged in her suit that the studio had built the movie and its financing around her and then used the hair-and-makeup dispute as a way to get a younger actress in the hooker role. The matter dragged on through the courts and appeals, but Welch ultimately was awarded a $10 million verdict in 1987 — which, of course, generated a whole new set of headlines for her.

Welch was married three times after her first marriage fell apart – to Patrick Curtis, André Weinfeld, and Richard Palmer. After splitting from her fourth husband, Welch swore off marriage. She is survived by the two children she had with James Welch, their son Damon Welch and their daughter Latanne “Tahnee” Welch.

Our sincere condolences go out to Raquel Welch’s family, friends, and fans.

Raquel Welch One Million B.C.
Source: Deadline

About the Author

Cody is a news editor and film critic, focused on the horror arm of JoBlo.com, and writes scripts for videos that are released through the JoBlo Originals and JoBlo Horror Originals YouTube channels. In his spare time, he's a globe-trotting digital nomad, runs a personal blog called Life Between Frames, and writes novels and screenplays.