Born on September 5, 1940, in Chicago, Illinois, actress Raquel Welch worked as a model, waitress and television weather girl before making her film debut in 1964. Launched as a sex symbol after her scantily clad appearance in One Million Years B.C. (1966), she was rarely challenged by later roles. Her later feature films include Legally Blonde and Forget About It. She continues to be regarded as one of the world's great beauties.
Born Jo Raquel Tejada on September 5, 1940, in Chicago, Illinois, actress Raquel Welch was born to a Spanish aeronautical engineer father and Irish-American mother.
Welch originally aspired to be a ballet dancer, but she gave up on her dream when her instructor told her that her figure wasn't made for dancing.
Once her family moved to California, Welch entered beauty contests as a teenager and worked as a model, waitress and television weather girl before making her film debut in 1964, playing a call girl in the film A House Is Not a Home.
More films would follow, but it was One Million Years B.C. (1966), in which she was dressed in a scantily clad deer-skin bikini that raised her status as one of the top sex symbols of her time. In the 1970s Playboy dubbed her the "Most Desired Woman" of the decade.
Despite appearing in a variety of films starting opposite big names like Frank Sinatra and Burt Reynolds, Welch wanted to be taken seriously as an actress. In 1970 she took a chance and played a transsexual heroine in the controversial film, Myra Breckinridge. The film ended up being a flop, but Welch continued working both in television and in movies. In 1974 she won a Golden Globe for Best Actress for her role in The Three Musketeers. In 1982 she turned to the stage in the Broadway musical Woman of the Year (1982).
In 2001 she had a supporting role in Legally Blonde and Forget About It (2006) and also made an appearance in CBS's short-lived series, Welcome to The Captain in 2008.
Welch found success in the '80s with her book and video series The Raquel Welch Total Beauty and Fitness Program. She also launched a jewelry and skincare line, but it was her line of wigs that proved to be the most popular.
In 2007 MAC Cosmetics named her one of its spokesmodels for its Beauty Icon series. The following year Welch became brand ambassador for Foster Grant's reading glasses.
Welch has been married four times. In 1959 Welch married her high school sweetheart James Welch and had two children Damon and Latanne before divorcing in 1964. She later married her business partner Patrick Curtis (1967-1972) and director/journalist André Weinfeld (1980-1990).
In 1999 the actress married Richard Palmer and is currently separated from him.
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