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raquel welch

Legendary actress and model Raquel Welch has died at the age of 82.

The Hollywood star passed away peacefully on February 15 after a brief illness, her manager said.

Raquel Welch became an international sex symbol in the 1960s, widely remembered for playing a bikini-clad cavewoman in the 1966 film One Million Years BC.

She also won a Golden Globe for her role in 1974’s The Three Musketeers.

Born Jo Raquel Tejada in 1940, she grew up in California, where she won teen beauty pageants and later became a local weather forecaster.

During a brief stint in Dallas, Texas, the divorced mother of two modelled for the Neiman Marcus clothing store and worked as a cocktail waitress.

Raquel Welch’s big break came in 1964 soon after she moved back to California, when she scored cameos in A House Is Not A Home, and Roustabout, a musical starring Elvis Presley.

She shot to prominence two years later, with her back-to-back roles in the sci-fi film Fantastic Voyage and the fantasy film One Million Years BC.

Raquel Welch only had a few lines in the latter, but promotional stills of her wearing a skimpy two-piece deer-skin bikini turned her into a leading pin-up girl of the era.

Raquel Welch is still time-haltingly beautiful forty-six years after she emerged from the sea in mankind's first bikini
Image source: Getty Images

Despite her public image, however, Raquel Welch long expressed discomfort with the representation of her body, once saying she “was not brought up to be a sex symbol, nor is it in my nature to be one”.

“The fact that I became one is probably the loveliest, most glamorous and fortunate misunderstanding,” she added.

Raquel Welch went on to address her image in her memoir, Raquel: Beyond the Cleavage, in which she opened up about her childhood, her early career woes as a single mother in Hollywood, and why she would never lie about her age.

In a career spanning over five decades, the actress appeared in more than 30 movies and 50 television shows.

It included playing the love interest of Frank Sinatra’s character in 1968’s Lady in Cement; the titular transgender heroine in 1970’s Myra Breckenridge; and a Golden Globe-nominated performance in the 1987 TV drama Right to Die.

Later in life, Raquel Welch also released her own signature line of wigs, a jewellery and skincare collection, and a Mac Cosmetics makeup line.

She leaves behind a son, Damon Welch, and daughter Latanne “Tahnee” Welch, who is also an actress.