RIP, Raquel

It happens to us all.

Icons of our formative years start passing away, and take with them the mile markers of their generation.  They leave behind their impact on the culture, and on us: Memories of a song, a movie performance, or maybe just a pin up poster.

Raquel Welch died today at the age of 82.  Bombshell doesn’t begin to describe this woman who acted, sang, and in 1966, became an international sex symbol after posing for a poster from the movie,  “One Million Years B.C.” in which she had all of three lines. If you were a contemporary at the time the poster showed up on dorm room walls, you’ll know exactly what it looked like, but younger audiences will remember the poster from the fabulous movie, “Shawshank Redemption.” It was THE most definitive and best-selling pin-up poster of that time.

Remember this scene?

She was among the first Latina superstars.

She was born Jo Raquel Tejada to a Bolivian aeronautical engineer and his American wife. She had won the first of several teen beauty titles at the age of 14, but what she really aspired to was a career as a ballerina. The dream was given up when her trainer told her she didn’t have the right kind of body for ballet. By the time she was 20, Raquel had married her high school sweetheart and had two kids before they divorced in 1964. Trying to survive as a single mom, she took on jobs as a model, a barmaid, local TV weather girl, and a model for Neiman-Marcus, but with hopes that bigger things were in her future, she tried her hand in Hollywood. Raquel had a string of walk-on parts in minor films, including an appearance with Elvis in the 1964 musical feature “Roustabout,” but it wasn’t until “One Million Years B.C.” that she erased the notion that only blondes become enduring sex goddesses.

She also took chances. Her groundbreaking love scenes with black athlete, Jim Brown, in the Spaghetti Western, “100 Rifles,” caused a stir. So did her role as as transgender in Myra Breckinridge  (mind you, this was in 1970). In 1982, Welch was fired for insisting on doing her hair and make-up at home and sued MGM studios for breach of contract. She ultimately won a $15 million settlement. In 1987, she took on the role of a psychology professor who contracted amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, and taped out a message to her family that she wanted to be allowed to die with dignity. For their time, these were risky roles.

Unfortunately, when she locked horns with another sex symbol, albeit from a different era, her conflicts with Mae West undermined her efforts to be taken seriously. In the end, Welch had the last laugh. Her career spanned over 50 years. She starred in over 30 films, and 50 television series and appearances. She won a Golden Globe winner, was nominated for three Primetime Emmy Awards, and towards the end of her life, created a highly successful line of wigs.

A celebrity’s image is their livelihood, and for that reason, we lack consent (and the big bucks) to share Raquel Welch’s images, but we can tell you that she was a Doberman Pinscher owner, and among the images of her with her dog, we liked this one the best.  In lieu of a photo of her with her dog, we share a Doberman image at the top taken by Jorge Rosales on Unsplash

RIP, Raquel Welch.

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