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Raquel Welch Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (3) | Mini Bio (1) | Spouse (4) | Trade Mark (4) | Trivia (36) | Personal Quotes (31) | Salary (1)

Overview (3)

Date of Birth 5 September 1940Chicago, Illinois, USA
Birth NameJo Raquel Tejada
Height 5' 6" (1.68 m)

Mini Bio (1)

A new reigning 1960s international sex symbol took to the cinematic throne as soon as Raquel Welch emerged from the sea in her purposely depleted, furry prehistoric bikini. Tantalizingly wet with her garb clinging to all the right amazonian places, One Million Years B.C. (1966), if nothing else, captured the hearts and libidos of modern men (not to mention their teenage sons) while producing THE most definitive and best-selling pin-up poster of that time. After a major dry spell following the death of Marilyn Monroe in 1962, the auburn-maned Ms. Welch effortlessly assumed Marilyn's place and forever wiped away the notion that enduring sex goddesses came only in one form -- bottled blonds.

She was born Jo Raquel Tejada on September 5, 1940 in Chicago, Illinois, the first of three children born to Bolivian Armando Carlos Tejada Urquizo, an aerospace engineer, and his Irish-American wife Josephine Sarah Hall, who was the daughter of American architect Emery Stanford Hall (1869-1939) and his wife Clara Louise Adams. The family moved to San Diego, California (her father was transferred) when Raquel was only two. Taking dance lessons as a youngster, she grew up to be quite a knockout and nailed a number of teen beauty titles ("Miss Photogenic," "Miss La Jolla," "Miss Contour," "Miss Fairest of the Fair" and "Miss San Diego"). With her sights set on theater arts, she studied at San Diego State College on a scholarship starting in 1958 and married her first husband, high school sweetheart James Welch, the following year. They had two children Damon Welch (born 1959) and Tahnee Welch (born 1961). Tahnee went on to take advantage of her own stunning looks as an actress, most notably a prime featured role in Cocoon (1985).

Off campus Raquel became a local TV weather girl in San Diego and eventually quit college. Following the end of her marriage in 1961 (she and Welch didn't divorced until 1965), she packed up her two children and moved to Dallas, Texas, where she modeled for Neiman-Marcus and worked as a barmaid for a time. Regrouping, she returned to California, migrated to Los Angeles, and made the rounds of film/TV auditions. Providing minor but sexy set decoration on the small screen (Bewitched (1964), McHale's Navy (1962) and The Virginian (1962)) as well as the large (Elvis Presley's Roustabout (1964) and Doris Day's Do Not Disturb (1965)). Caught in the midst of the "beach party" craze, it's not surprising to find out that her first prime film role was A Swingin' Summer (1965), which concentrated more on musical guests The Righteous Brothers and Gary Lewis & The Playboys than on Raquel's outstanding contributions. But 20th Century Fox certainly took notice and signed her up.

With her very first film under contract (actually, she was on loan out to Britain's Hammer Studios at the time), she took on the remake of One Million B.C. (1940) in the Carole Landis role and the rest is history. Raquel remained an international celebrity in her first few years of stardom. In England, she was quite revealing as the deadly sin representing "lust" for the comedy team of Peter Cook and Dudley Moore in their vehicle Bedazzled (1967), and as the title secret agent in the sexy spy spoof Fathom (1967). In Italy, she gained some exposure in primarily mediocre vehicles opposite such heartthrobs as Marcello Mastroianni. Back in the U.S., however, she caused quite a stir in her ground-breaking sex scenes with black athlete Jim Brown in the "spaghetti western" 100 Rifles (1969), and as the transgendered title role in the unfathomable Myra Breckinridge (1970). Adapted from Gore Vidal novel, she created some unwelcome notoriety by locking horns with aging diva Mae West on the set. The instant cult movie was a laughingstock to all concerned and certainly didn't help Raquel's attempt at being taking seriously as an actress.

Box office bombs abounded. Try as she might in such films as Kansas City Bomber (1972) and The Wild Party (1975), which drew some good reviews for her, her sexy typecast gave her little room to breathe. With determination, however, she partly offset this with modest supporting roles in larger ensemble pieces. She showed definite spark and won a Golden Globe for the swashbuckler The Three Musketeers (1973), and appeared to good advantage in the mystery thriller The Last of Sheila (1973). She planned on making a comeback in Cannery Row (1982), even agreeing to appear topless (which she had never done before), but was suddenly fired during production without notice. She sued MGM for breach of contract and ultimately won a $15 million settlement, but it didn't help her film career and only helped to label her as trouble on a set. TV movies became a positive milieu for Raquel as she developed sound vehicles for herself such as The Legend of Walks Far Woman (1982) and Right to Die (1987). She also found a lucrative avenue pitching beauty products in infomercials and developing exercise videos à la Jane Fonda.

Raquel took advantage of her modest singing and dancing abilities by performing in splashy Las Vegas showrooms and starring in such plausible stage vehicles as "Woman of the Year" and "Victor/Victoria." Still a dazzler broaching age 70, Raquel continues to show up here and there and still can turn heads. She has even spoofed her own diva image on occasion, most memorably on "Seinfeld". More recently she has co-starred in the Hispanic-oriented TV series American Family (2002) and in the short-lived comedy Welcome to the Captain (2008), and appeared in the movies Tortilla Soup (2001), Legally Blonde (2001) and Forget About It (2006). She is separated from her fourth husband Richard Palmer, who is 15 years her junior.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Gary Brumburgh / gr-home@pacbell.net

Spouse (4)

Richard Palmer (17 July 1999 - present) (separated)
André Weinfeld (5 July 1980 - 1990) (divorced)
Patrick Curtis (14 February 1967 - 1972) (divorced)
James Westley Welch (8 May 1959 - 1964) (divorced) (2 children)

Trade Mark (4)

Strawberry blonde hair
Large brown eyes
Voluptuous figure
Deep sultry voice

Trivia (36)

Born at 2:40pm-CDT.
Mother of Tahnee Welch and Damon Welch.
Miss Fairest of the Fair in San Diego, California in 1958.
Attended and graduated from La Jolla High School in La Jolla, California in 1958.
Chosen by Empire magazine as one of the 100 Sexiest Stars in film history (#18) (1995).
Her father, Armando Carlos Tejada Urquizo (1911-1976), was Bolivian.
Husband Richard Palmer is a restaurateur. The couple are now separated.
She was fired from Cannery Row (1982) and replaced by Debra Winger. She then sued Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and won a $10 million judgement.
Among her many beauty contest titles were "Miss Photogenic", "Miss Contour" and "Miss Maid of California" - all won while she was in her teens.
(August 30, 2003) Broke her wrist in a car crash in Los Angeles, California.
Mentioned in the theme song of the 1980s television series The Fall Guy (1981).
Had a notorious backstage feud with the indomitable Mae West on the set of Myra Breckinridge (1970).
Auditioned for the role of Mary Ann Summers in Gilligan's Island (1964), which went to Dawn Wells.
Her former assistant was Polly Brown.
Was a former cocktail waitress.
Has a home on the private island of Mustique
Son Damon Welch married the daughter of England and Yorkshire cricket legend Freddie Trueman.
One of the bombshells shown in The Shawshank Redemption (1994) (The other two were Rita Hayworth and Marilyn Monroe).
In 1970, she accepted the Oscar for "Best Actress in a Supporting Role" on behalf of Goldie Hawn, who wasn't present at the awards ceremony
Second husband, producer Patrick Curtis, reportedly was one of several infants who took turns playing the baby of Olivia de Havilland in Gone with the Wind (1939).
Profiled in the book "Film Fatales: Women in Espionage Films and Television, 1962-1973" by Tom Lisanti and Louis Paul (McFarland, 2002).
Ex-stepmother of Damon Curtis.
[c. 1973] Ex-girlfriend of costume designer Ron Talsky, who also designed her clothes for the films Kansas City Bomber (1972) and The Last of Sheila (1973).
Was promoted as a sex symbol by her then-husband Patrick Curtis, a film producer and Hollywood press agent.
Her younger brother is Castillo Tejada.
Was named "The Worst Actress of All Time" in Harry Medved and Michael Medved's 1980 book "The Golden Turkey Awards", beating out Candice Bergen, Mamie Van Doren, and even Vera Ralston. Interestingly, her co-star in Bluebeard (1972), Richard Burton, was named "The Worst Actor of All Time" in the same book.
Her younger sister, Gail Tejada, is an ovarian cancer survivor.
[1996] Dated champion boxer Gary Stretch when she was 56 and he was 31. Gary was younger than her two children, Damon Welch and Tahnee Welch. Raquel was also born the same year as Gary's father, Ron Stretch. Their brief romance ended because of their age difference.
Revealed that her first marriage was the best of her four.
She was crowned Miss La Jolla and Miss Southern California before dropping out of college in San Diego, California where she had an acting scholarship, to get married to her high-school sweetheart, James Welch, at age 19.
Ten months after the large age gap brought her relationship with Gary Stretch to an end, she dated Los Angeles restaurateur Richard Palmer, who is 15 years her junior. Richard left his fiancée, actress Cathy Moriarty for Raquel after they met in October 1997 at Ago, the West Hollywood restaurant owned by Robert De Niro.
Has American ancestry on her mother's side, dating back to both John Quincy Adams and the Mayflower. Her father immigrated from La Paz, Bolivia at age 17. His ancestry can be traced back to Armando Carlos Tejada Urquizo, a Bolivian of Spanish ancestry.
20th Century Fox wanted her to change her name to Debbie Welch, because they thought Raquel was too difficult to pronounce.
She was awarded a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 7021 Hollywood Boulevard in Hollywood, California on June 8, 1996.
As of 2013, celebrity spokesperson for Foster Grant sunglasses since the 1960s.
Her grunting in One Million Years B.C. (1966) was dubbed by Nikki Van der Zyl.

Personal Quotes (31)

Once you get rid of the idea that you must please other people before you please yourself, and you begin to follow your own instincts - only then can you be successful. You become more satisfied, and when you are, other people will tend to be satisfied by what you do.
Being a sex symbol was rather like being a convict.
[In 1973] I couldn't stand that my husband was being unfaithful. I am Raquel Welch - understand?
The mind is an erogenous zone.
Americans have always had sex symbols. It'a time-honored tradition and I'm flattered to have been one. But it's hard to have a long, fruitful career once you've been stereotyped that way. That's why I'm proud to say I've endured.
[about Mae West] I do think she was a spectacular talent. There's no question she was a comedic genius, but I did, in person, actually feel like she was some kind of a dockworker in drag.
If you have physical attractiveness you don't have to act.
My father was a perfectionist. We had to hop to everything and have marvelous table manners. I could only wear navy blue and gray and white. He wanted me to be interested in tennis and horses just like a little princess, but I couldn't stand such things.
[In 2008] I have pictures of me at 23 or 24 and I think, "Oh my God, I was really once that size!". But actually, I think my face looks better now.
[on divorcing first husband James Welch] Always having to be a perfect vision can be hard. My first husband was a good person. The second (Patrick Curtis) turned into a Svengali - I felt I was being manipulated. I should never have run off with the two kids (Damon and Tahnee) - I should have been more patient. Even though Jim was being horrible I should have stuck it out. I often say to my sister, "When I look back over my four husbands, he was the best.".
[on her daughter Tahnee Welch] She is much more beautiful than I was.
[on her marriage to James Welch] I was crazy in love with him - I was sure the moment I saw him he would be the father of my children. He was beautiful, he had this surly quality, and that was it! We were foolish, we ran away and got married, had two children too quickly. It was a romantic fantasy, which I am really good at.
I've always personally been color blind. Growing up, I thought Lena Horne was amazing, and Diahann Carroll was amazing, and I absolutely fell in love with Sidney Poitier. Whether they were black or white or whatever, it wasn't a big thing for me. When I was doing 100 Rifles (1969) and I found out I'd be working with Jim Brown, I was more concerned with whether he could act, because he was primarily known as a football player. But he was great.
[Hollywood name-changing] was mostly an American insecurity. Americans were not sure how to deal with the exotic. I was lucky that one of my first movies, One Million Years B.C. (1966) was made in Europe by a British company. The Brits, and a lot of the rest of Europe, seemed to really love exotic women. The fact that I was American and exotic just made me more appealing to them.
[20th Century Fox] said it ["Raquel"] was difficult to pronounce, nobody's going to remember it. And they had a point. In school, nobody could pronounce my name. They just called me Rocky. But school kids are one thing, your career as an adult woman is another. I took it as a challenge. I was like, "Well, let's see what happens." You either embrace your identity or you let them force you into homogenizing yourself.
Not everybody is comfortable with my ethnicity. When I first came along in the business, they [20th Century Fox] didn't really like the idea of my name being Raquel. I signed with them and almost immediately they wanted me to change my name. They came to me and said, "We have the solution. We figured it all out. You're going to be Debbie Welch." I think they were paranoid that Raquel sounded too ethnic. And I thought, maybe I should be more paranoid than I am. But I wasn't raised thinking of myself or my background as particularly exotic. I felt very American and middle of the road. I knew that I had a little salsa in my blood, but on my mother's side there was the whole English heritage.
He didn't even know. The poor guy who played Rusty Godowski [Roger Herren], he was like a deer in headlights. He read the script and he was like, "I don't understand this scene." I didn't have the heart to tell him. I was just like, "Yeah, it is a little vague, isn't it?". I just could not make the poor guy more nervous than he was already. When we shot it, I kind of suspended my disbelief and thought, "Well okay, I guess we're doing this. But as long as there's nothing graphic, it'll be okay. I'm just here to play the role." Everything about that movie, the good and the bad, it was if nothing else... a challenge.
When I signed on [for Myra Breckinridge (1970)], it was understood that there was not going to be a rape scene. And then of course it suddenly appeared in the script. But it was very vague. They weren't very specific in the description. So I'm wondering if they're going to try something. (Director) Michael Sarne used to torture me on the set a lot. He would come around with this red rectangular box of a certain length and a certain width. And it was clear, you know... what might be in the box. And he'd be like, "I have something here for you." I'd just look away, wouldn't even acknowledge him. Finally, the big day arrives and we're about to shoot the scene and he says, "Well, now is the time." I turn to him and say, "Michael, just drop it! I am not strapping anything on!". And I didn't. He said, "Well, that's not fun." But I wouldn't budge.
I had read the book, and I thought it was hysterically funny. I knew the studio was making it into a movie, and I heard they were talking to Anne Bancroft about doing the lead. When she turned it down, I called (producer) Richard D. Zanuck and said, "I don't know what kind of actress you're looking for, but it occurred to me after reading the book, if there was a guy who wanted to change himself into a movie star woman" - and that's what this character was about. He begins as Myron, a very gay movie critic who's totally infatuated with all of these swashbuckling heroines. He wanted to switch over and become a woman like that. So I told Dick, "If this guy wanted to become a glamorous female movie star, he might like to look like me." And he said, "Oh my God, you have a point. Let me get (co-producer) David Brown on the line.".
I did a Q&A after one of the screenings [at Lincoln Center, New York City, in 2012 for Myra Breckinridge (1970)], with Simon Doonan, and at one point he asked me, "Is there nothing you liked about this movie?". And I said, "Well, I liked the experience of it. I enjoyed making it." But there's not much you can do as an actor when a film is falling apart. I couldn't control that the script wasn't coming together. Each rewrite got further and further from making any sense.
[Myra Breckinridge (1970)] was based on a brilliant book by Gore Vidal, about sexual duality and the masculine or feminine aspects of every personality, written about in a way that really hadn't been expressed before. It wasn't traditional male and female stuff. It was talking about homosexuality or lesbianism or whatever. It was about crossing the line and breaking new ground sexually. But the problem with the movie was it had none of the fun and absurdity and truth of that exploration, which was dealt with so effectively in the book. It was just a bunch of weird scenes strung together. It became this sort of Fellini-esque crazy dream that's all over the place. It wasn't the funny adventure it should've been. It was a bizarre adventure with some offensive things in it. A lot of audiences didn't really understand what was going on.
[Don Chaffey] wasn't unkind as a director. But when I wanted to possibly find ways to enhance my character, to make her more vulnerable or have some kind of backstory, he was not interested. That was the hardest part, to realize that I was really an object. Not just to Don, but to the film industry in general. I was a completely non-verbal object that wasn't allowed to talk more than necessary. And that isn't exactly my personality, as you can now hear.
I probably did over think [my lines in One Million Years B.C. (1966)]. Not that it mattered. I went to the director, Don Chaffey, very early in the shoot and said, "Don, may I have a word with you?". And he sighed and said, "Yeah, what is it?". I could tell right away that he was not very interested. "Well, I've read the script," I said, "and I've been thinking..." And he turned to me and said, "Don't". And I thought, okay, that in a nutshell is what it's all about. They don't want to hear anything from me. Just show up in the costume and take orders. He said, "See that rock over there? That's rock A. When I say action, you run from rock A and when you get to the middle of the frame, you look up at the sky like there's a giant turtle growling down at you. You scream, run to rock B and we break for lunch.".
Actually, there was never just one bikini. They made several of them. They were created by this wonderful costume designer, Carl Toms, and he had to do it in triplicate. Because, as he explained it to me, at one point my character would get wet, and then there was a fight scene and blood would get on it. So they had to have several versions of the same costume, and they all had to be formfitting. So he literally designed it around me. Carl just draped me in doeskin, and I stood there while he worked on it with scissors.
Every day, every day. I have people that handle my fan mail, and every day tons of photos come in, with requests for autographs. The fur bikini [from One Million Years B.C. (1966)] is the perennial one. I do feel very fortunate, because I had no suspicion that a dinosaur movie would ever pay off for me as an actress. I figured, it's going to be swept under the carpet, nobody will ever see it. I had a couple of small children at the time, and I used to take them over to see Ray Harryhausen. He did all the special effects on the movie, all the stop-motion animation, and he's pretty much a science fiction legend. Ray would show my kids all the little figurines he used, all the dinosaurs. And then he'd show them how the animation was done, and they were fascinated. So that's what it seemed like to me. It was great stuff for kids, but maybe not the ideal way for an actress to enter the movie-making scene. I even complained to the studio. I was like, "Please, please don't make me do the dinosaur movie." They were like "No, Raquel, you don't understand. It's a classic. It'll live on forever." Turns out they were right.
You could say a lot of things about [One Million Years B.C. (1966)], but challenging isn't one of them.
I don't care if I'm becoming one of those old fogies who says, "Back in my day we didn't have to hear about sex all the time." Can you imagine? My fantasies were all made up on my own. They're ruining us with all the explanations and the graphicness. Nobody remembers what it's like to be left to form your own ideas about what's erotic and sexual. We're not allowed any individuality. I thought that was the fun of the whole thing. It's my fantasy. I didn't pick it off the Internet somewhere. It's my fantasy.
[In 2012] I think we've gotten to the point in our culture where we're all sex addicts, literally. We have equated happiness in life with as many orgasms as you can possibly pack in, regardless of where it is that you deposit your love interest. It's just dehumanizing. And I have to honestly say, I think this era of porn is at least partially responsible for it. Where is the anticipation and the personalization? It's all pre-fab now. You have these images coming at you unannounced and unsolicited. It just gets to be so plastic and phony to me. Maybe men respond to that. But is it really better than an experience with a real life girl that he cares about? It's an exploitation of the poor male's libidos. Poor babies, they can't control themselves. I just imagine them sitting in front of their computers, completely annihilated. They haven't done anything, they don't have a job, they barely have ambition anymore. And it makes for laziness and a not very good sex partner. Do they know how to negotiate something that isn't pre-fab and injected directly into their brain?
... I remember James Coburn once said to me, "You know what's the sexiest thing of all? A little mystery." And he was so right about that. When you put it all out there, there's nothing left to the imagination. So where am I going to participate? I've said this before and I still agree with it, the most erogenous zone is the brain. It's all happening there. Otherwise, it's just body parts.
I think [title designer Maurice Binder] understood what was sexy and what wasn't. He knew how to be sexy without being profane about it, and without being too graphic. I'll be honest, I didn't really understand it at the time. When we were shooting that opening moment in Fathom (1967), it seemed silly to me. They had to explain it to me, and even then I was like, "Okay, fine, whatever you think.".
There was this perception of "Oh, she's just a sexpot. She's just a body. She probably can't walk and chew gum at the same time." In my first couple of movies, I had no dialogue. It was frustrating. And then I started to realize that it came with the territory. Look at somebody like Marilyn Monroe. I always wondered why she seemed so unhappy. Everybody worshipped her and she was so extraordinary and hypnotic on screen. But they never nominated her for any of her musicals or comedies, as good as she was. Because for some reason, somebody with her sex appeal, her indescribable attraction, is rarely taken seriously. Hollywood doesn't honor comedy and it doesn't honor sex appeal. And they definitely don't give awards to either of them. So you always feel a little insecure.

Salary (1)

Bluebeard (1972) $150,000

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