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February 17, 2023

I am very sad to have to report that legendary actress and sex symbol Raquel Welch died Wednesday at 82 following a brief illness. She had avoided the spotlight in recent years, but remained active by running a successful wig business.

Here are some photos of famous moments from her life and career.

And here is an interview Mike Huckabee conducted with her on his Fox Show:

Born Jo Raquel Tejada, she took her first husband’s last name out of concern that it would be hard in those days to land roles with such a Hispanic moniker. Women who are insecure about their looks might be comforted to know that Raquel said in high school, “I didn’t like my hair (very fine like my mother’s), or my eyes (too deeply set and almond-shaped, in standard-issue brown), or my nose (not cute enough) or my mouth (a bit too wide.)” I assume she eventually got a confidence boost from winning a string of beauty contests, including “Miss Photogenic.”

Starting out as a TV weather girl, she broke into movies with memorable appearances as a scientist sporting the world’s tightest wetsuit in “Fantastic Voyage” and as hot cavewoman Loana in “One Million Years B.C.,” which was only slightly less historically accurate than “The 1619 Project.” But history be damned, the appeal of the movie was summed up in the slogan, “See Raquel Welch wear mankind’s first bikini!” Back in the days when it was still occasionally correct, the New York Times declared Welch in her deerskin bikini to be “A marvelous breathing monument to womankind.” The iconic photo of her became a poster that adorned the bedroom walls of a generation of males. As Greg Gutfeld said, that poster is why no young males of that era were confused about what gender they were.

In her ‘60s and ‘70s heyday, Welch’s very name became shorthand for the ultimate in female sex appeal. She was called the "Most Beautiful Woman in the World." Playboy rated her #3 on a list of the 100 sexist movie stars of all time, behind only Marilyn Monroe and Jayne Mansfield (Hefner had a type.) While it was hard for her to escape that image, she eventually proved herself a talented actress in movies such as “Kansas City Bomber” and “The Three Musketeers” (for which she won a Golden Globe Award); starred in musical specials like 1970’s “Raquel!” and in Vegas; and took over the lead roles in the Broadway musicals “Woman of the Year” and “Victor/Victoria,” where she had to be a really good actress to convince anyone that Raquel Welch was a man playing a woman.

Despite her sexy image, Welch never appeared nude, turning down multiple pleas from Hugh Hefner. When she finally agreed to pose for Playboy, she kept some clothes on. She was a political conservative, and she once said, “I’ve definitely used my body and sex appeal to advantage in my work, but always within limits. I reserve some things for my private life, and they are not for sale.”

For those want to remember her and have seen her biggest hits, I would recommend the brilliant ‘60s comedy “Bedazzled” with Peter Cook and Dudley Moore and a brief but memorable appearance by Raquel; the 1965 “beach movie in the mountains,” “A Swingin’ Summer” (also starring such teen idols as the Righteous Brothers and Gary Lewis & The Playboys) where she, of course, sports a bikini and belts out the hot mama song “I’m Ready To Groove” which is included in my book/CD “Hollywood Hi-Fi;” and her 1970 CBS musical special “Raquel!” with Tom Jones, Bob Hope and John Wayne, which has been released on DVD.!_(TV_program)

(FYI: Wikipedia doesn’t know this, and I don’t know if Raquel even did, but there was an audio problem and some of her songs were overdubbed in the middle of the night by “My Three Sons” star Tina Cole and her sister Cathy, who handled the low notes. They were both members of the singing King Family and its offshoot, the 4 King Cousins. This was told to me directly by Tina in an interview for “Hollywood Hi-Fi.” Don’t say I don’t share trivia that nobody else tells you.)

Finally, if you are still puzzled over your gender and just can’t figure out what a “woman” is, watch Raquel and Cher perform “I’m a Woman (W-O-M-A-N)” from Cher’s variety show. It will clear up that dumb question once and for all.

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Comments 1-1 of 1

  • Sharon Faulkner

    02/22/2023 11:58 AM

    Screen " Goddess" ? I appreciate her decency and patriotism ( especially to Vietnam Troops) but icon would be a better word.