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Raquel Welch (1940)

Jo Raquel Tejada

Type :  

  Summary  

Jo Raquel Tejada , better known as Raquel Welch, is an American actress, author and sex symbol. Welch came to attention as a "new-star" on the 20th Century-Fox lot in the mid-1960s. She posed iconically in a animal skin bikini for the British-release One Million Years B.C. , for which she may be best known. She later starred in Bedazzled , Bandolero! , 100 Rifles , and the box office failure Myra Breckinridge . Today, Welch is a noticeable face of television commercials for Foster Grant sunglasses and reading glasses.

  Biography  

 early life
Welch was born Jo Raquel Tejada in Chicago, Illinois, the older sister to brother James and sister Gayle. She is the daughter of Josephine Sarah (née Hall, 1909–2000) with English ancestry dating back to the Mayflower, and Armando Carlos Tejada Urquizo (1911–1976), a Bolivian of Spanish descent. Her father, an aeronautical engineer, emigrated from La Paz, Bolivia at age 17; her mother was American, the daughter of architect Emery Stanford Hall and wife Clara Louise Adams. Raquel was raised in the Presbyterian religion and continues to attend church.

As a young girl, she wanted to be a performer. Her first love and ambition was ballet, which she studied from ages seven to seventeen. She gave up ballet after her instructor told her that she did not have the proper body. While a student at La Jolla High School in 1958, she won the Fairest of the Fair beauty pageant at the San Diego County Fair.

 career
She changed her surname to that of her first husband, James Welch, in 1959. That year, she played the title role in The Ramona Pageant, a yearly outdoor play at Hemet, California which is based on the novel Ramona by Helen Hunt Jackson and Bob Biloe.

She reported the weather at KFMB, a local San Diego television station. Because of her heavy schedule at the time, she decided to leave her studies at San Diego State University . Her first marriage broke up and she moved with her two children, Damon and Latanne, to Dallas, Texas, where she modeled for Neiman Marcus and worked as a cocktail hostess, intending to move on to New York City from there.

Instead, Welch moved back to California, found a place in Los Angeles, California, and started making the rounds of the movie studios. She was cast in bit parts in two films and in the television shows Bewitched, McHale's Navy, and The Virginian, as well as on the weekly variety series The Hollywood Palace as a billboard girl and presenter of acts.

Welch's first featured role came in the beach film A Swingin' Summer, which led to a contract with 20th Century Fox. She was subsequently cast in a leading role in the sci-fi film Fantastic Voyage , which was a hit and made her a star. She was the last star to be created under the studio system.

On loan out to Hammer Studios in Britain, Welch starred in the remake of One Million Years B.C. striking an iconic pose in a prehistoric animal-skin bikini. She was described as "wearing mankind's first bikini" and the fur bikini was described as a "definitive look of the 1960s". One author said, "although she had only three lines in the film, her luscious figure in a fur bikini made her a star and the dream girl of millions of young moviegoers." Her publicity still for the film became a bestselling poster, and helped her be seen as one of the leading sex symbols of the 1960s and 1970s. After her appearance as lust incarnate in the hit Bedazzled, she returned to the U.S. and appeared in the Western film Bandolero!, with James Stewart and Dean Martin, which was followed by the private-eye drama Lady in Cement with Frank Sinatra. Her looks and fame led Playboy to dub her the "Most Desired Woman" of the 1970s. Welch presented at the Academy Award ceremony several times during the 1970s due to her popularity, and accepted the Best Supporting Actress Oscar on behalf of fellow actress Goldie Hawn when she couldn't be there to accept it.

Welch's most controversial role came in the notorious Myra Breckinridge. She took the part as the film's transsexual heroine in an attempt to be taken seriously as an actress, but the movie turned out to be a dismal failure.

Welch starred in the movie, 100 Rifles, a 1969 western directed by Tom Gries. The film also starred Jim Brown, Burt Reynolds, and Fernando Lamas. The original music score was composed by Jerry Goldsmith. 100 Rifles was one of the first films to feature an interracial sex scene between Jim Brown and Raquel Welch.

In 1970, Welch teamed up with Tom Jones and producer/choreographer David Winters of Winters-Rosen Productions for the TV special Raquel!, considered by some viewers to be a classic pairing together of 1970s pop-culture icons in their prime. The multi million-dollar TV song-and-dance extravaganza was filmed around the world, from Paris to Mexico. The show featured lavish production numbers of classic songs from the era, extravagant costumes, and notable guest performances, including John Wayne and Bob Hope in the Wild West.

The actress was due to star in an 1982 adaptation of John Steinbeck's Cannery Row, but was fired by the producers a few days into production . She was replaced with Debra Winger. Welch successfully sued, collecting a $15 million settlement.

In addition to her TV special, Raquel!, her television appearances include the TV movies The Legend of Walks Far Woman and Right to Die in which she turned in a stirring performance as a woman stricken with Lou Gehrig's disease, and in the PBS series American Family, about a Mexican American family in East Los Angeles. She has appeared in the night-time soap opera Central Park West and made infomercials and exercise videos.

In 1987, she flirted with a pop singing career, releasing the dance single "This Girl's Back In Town." She has performed in a one-woman nightclub musical act in Las Vegas and has starred on Broadway in Woman of the Year, receiving praise for following Lauren Bacall in the title role, and in Victor/Victoria, having less success following Julie Andrews and Liza Minnelli in the title roles.

In a 1997 episode of the comedy series Seinfeld entitled The Summer of George, Welch played a highly temperamental version of herself, assaulting series characters Kramer and Elaine, the former because he fired her from an acting job and the latter because Welch mistakenly thought that Elaine was mocking her. She also appeared as a guest on the American TV series Sabrina the Teenage Witch, as Sabrina's flamboyant Aunt Vesta.

In 2001, she had a supporting role in the hit film Legally Blonde opposite Reese Witherspoon. She also appeared in Welcome to the Captain, which premiered on CBS television on February 4, 2008.

  Achievements and awards
In 1974, Welch won a Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture Actress in a Musical or Comedy for The Three Musketeers. She was also nominated for a Golden Globe for her performance in the TV drama Right to Die .

 personal life
Welch has been married to
  • James Welch (1959–1964), publicist and agent; divorced
  • Patrick Curtis (1967–1972), director and producer; divorced
  • Andre Weinfeld (1980–1990); divorced
  • Richard Palmer , from whom she is currently separated.

Welch is the mother of Damon Welch and actress Tahnee Welch . Tahnee followed her mother's December 1979 example and appeared on the cover of Playboy in the November 1995 issue.

 television work
  • Raquel!
  • Really Raquel
  • NBC's Saturday Night Live
  • The Muppet Show
  • Mork & Mindy 2 Episodes
  • From Raquel with Love
  • The Legend of Walks Far Woman
  • Right to Die
  • Scandal in a Small Town
  • Trouble in Paradise
  • Tainted Blood
  • Torch Song
  • Hollyrock-a-Bye Baby
  • Lois & Clark Season 2 Episode 35 "Top Copy"
  • Sabrina, the Teenage Witch Episode #08 ("Third Aunt From the Sun") as Aunt Vesta
  • Central Park West (1996–1997)
  • Seinfeld
  • Spin City 3 episodes
  • Jim Brown: All-American
  • American Family (2002–2004) 8 episodes
  • 8 Simple Rules
  • Welcome to The Captain 5 episodes

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  Sources

Whole or part of the information contained in this card come from the Wikipedia article "Raquel Welch", licensed under CC-BY-SA full list of contributors here.