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Thursday, May 23, 2024
The Observer

Remembering Raquel Welch


American actress and famed sex symbol Raquel Welch passed away after a brief illness on Feb. 15, 2023 at the age of 82. Welch was well-known for many films in the 1960s and had quite an illustrious career in the film industry, so it seems only reasonable to commemorate Welch’s life by taking a look at her early days and career. 

Born on Sept. 5, 1940 in Chicago, Welch eventually moved with her family to San Diego, where she studied ballet until she left the ballet academy at the age of 17. After graduating from high school, Welch married her high school sweetheart, James Welch, and went on to work as a weather presenter, since her family and television duties were too demanding on her. 

In 1963, Welch finally connected with Patrick Curtis, who became her personal and business manager. They both planned on turning Welch into a sex symbol. One year later, Welch was cast in many small roles in projects like “Roustabout” and “Bewitched.” She made her first featured appearance in 1965 in a film called “A Swingin’ Summer.” She then won the Deb Award that same year for a photo in Life Magazine — this photo created buzz around town. She was given a seven-year, nonexclusive contract with 20th Century Fox where the executives tried to convince her to change her name, but she vehemently refused. She appeared in her first Fox film, “Fantastic Voyage,” where she played a woman on a medical team who is miniaturized and injected into a scientist to save his life. It became a huge success and made Welch a star. 

Fox lended Welch to Hammer Studios, one of the most famous genre film companies from the United Kingdom. She starred in “One Million Years B.C.,” which made Welch even more of a sex symbol with her outfit of a two-piece, deer-skin bikini. This bikini was her only costume in the entire film, and she only had three lines. While the film was censored for provocative dancing and moments of graphic violence, the film became a hit and made Welch a bigger star. 

After “One Million Years B.C.,” Welch went on to star in many international projects including “Fathom,” which was released in 1967, along with “Bedazzled,” which is a retelling of the Faust legend. The film was set in Swinging London during the 1960s, and the film later got a 2000 remake starring Brendan Fraser. 

Shortly after working at 20th Century Fox, Welch went on to film an adaptation of Alexandre Dumas’ "The Three Musketeers” in 1973, which awarded Welch her first Golden Globe nomination for her performance as Constance Bonacieux. She garnered so much attention — and the film was such a massive success — that a sequel came out a year later called “The Four Musketeers.”

Welch had been married a total of four times and had two children. She married her manager Curtis in 1967, but divorced him in 1972. After her fourth divorce in 2004, Welch elected to not be in any more relationships.

In conclusion, Welch had a lot of success in the 1960s and 1970s in the film industry, and she will be missed by those who were fans of her films.