Raquel Welch, a US actress most known for wearing a deerskin bikini in the movie “One Million Years BC,” passed away on Wednesday, according to her manager. She was 82.
Without going into greater detail, Welch’s manager told AFP in an email that she passed away quietly early on Wednesday morning following “a brief illness.”
In a career spanning five decades, the Golden Globe winner appeared in more than 30 films, including “Fantastic Voyage” and “The Three Musketeers,” as well as about 50 television shows.
Welch, who was given the name Jo Raquel Tejada in 1940, was raised in California and competed in several beauty pageants while still an adolescent.
She began her acting career with a number of walk-on roles in unimportant movies, such as the 1964 musical comedy “Roustabout,” which starred Elvis Presley.
Her big break came when she was chosen to star in the 1966 science fiction film “Fantastic Voyage” by the 20th Century Fox company.
She starred in “One Million Years BC” that year, a fantasy movie best known for Welch’s bikini-clad cavewoman.
While the picture received lackluster reviews, Welch’s visage on its poster became part of cinema history.
In her 2010 autobiography “Beyond the Cleavage,” she wrote that she later struggled to avoid being typecast and that “everything else would be swamped by this bigger-than-life sex symbol.”
Raquel Welch proceeded to appear in important movies, including the explicit “Myra Breckinridge” and “100 Rifles,” in which she co-starred with Jim Brown in Hollywood’s first inter-racial sex scene (1970).
She received the Golden Globe for “The Three Musketeers” (1973), in which she portrays the queen’s tailor, for best actress in a comedy or musical.
While filming “Cannery Row” in 1982, Welch was fired for insisting on doing her hair and make-up at home. She sued MGM studios for breach of contract, ultimately winning a $15 million settlement.
Raquel Welch, a fan of yoga, then entered the wellness industry and released her “Total Beauty and Fitness” program in 1984.
Raquel Welch had long concealed her Latino heritage, but at the age of 60 or so, she began portraying Hispanic characters in “Tortilla Soup” in 2001 and the PBS series “American Family” in 2002.
She divorced her fourth husband, Richard Palmer, who was 14 years her junior, in 2008 when she was 68 years old.
Welch continued to act sporadically in subsequent years while also creating her own collection of wigs, hair accessories, and hair extensions.
Damon Welch, her son, and Tahnee Welch, her daughter, survive her.