Eternal Sex Symbol Raquel Welch
|Raquel Welch, still a classic beauty for the ages.|
A beauty contest winner in the '50s, Raquel Welch was an aspiring actress who kicked around Hollywood for a bunch of years before being noticed. She was in an Elvis Presley film ("Roustabout") and some others, she appeared on "Bewitched," she was on "McHale's Navy," but only in bit parts. Raquel even auditioned for the role of Mary Ann on "Gilligan's Island" but failed to get it.
How this classic beauty could ever have been overlooked is hard to figure out now. Eventually, Raquel got the recognition she so richly deserved.
Many people don't realize that Raquel traces her roots back to the Mayflower on her mother's side. On her father's side, she is of Bolivian/Spanish descent. She is not, as many people seem to believe, of any kind of Native American descent.
Raquel is her real first name, and Welch is the name of her first husband - James Westley Welch, the one she says was the best.
|Raquel Welch on the set of "Kansas City Bomber" (1972).|
Some sources say that Raquel is still married to her latest husband, Richard Palmer, others not. Maybe they got divorced but are still together - that seems to happen a lot these days.
Basically building her career on parts that featured her in outfits that flattered her figure, Raquel Welch continues working in Hollywood to this day.
All of these shots have that "look" that made Raquel a sex symbol, the biggest one since Marilyn Monroe.
|Raquel as Constance de Bonacieux in "The Three Musketeers" (1973).|
Raquel has specialize in that "look" throughout her career, and she excels at it and may even be said to have originated it.
|Raquel Welch in "Myra Breckinridge" (1970).|
Let's take a closer look at the role that made Raquel Welch a star.
One Million Years B.C.
Raquel Welch shot to fame in "One Million Years B.C.," a 1966 film which she carried by prancing about in a leather bikini.
|The poster that made Raquel a star. She claims it was a pure accident and not planned out, and when she found out that it had been turned into a popular poster, she was shocked.|
Raquel didn't really want to do it, pleading "Please, please don't make me do the dinosaur movie," but the studio insisted. The studio was right: it made her a star.
|"One Million Years B.C." received a lot publicity.|
There wasn't much, if any, dialog. It was all about Raquel and her iconic leather look. Most teenage boys in the late '60s to early '70s had a picture of Raquel from this film on their walls or in their basement or out in the garage or, well, somewhere. "One Million Years B.C." may not be listed in the film review books as a great film, but it featured great shots of Raquel, who apparently spent days shooting promo stills for it.
"One Million Years B.C." was released on Blu-ray by Kino Lorber Studio Classics on 14 February 2017. Special features include the 4K restoration of the 91 minute U.S. cut, audio commentary by film historian Tim Lucas, "In the Valley of Dinosaurs" - an interview with star Raquel Welch, an interview with SFX legend Ray Harryhausen, interview with actress Martine Beswick, animated montage of posters and images, and trailers.
For "One Million Years B.C., the director was Don Chaffey, special effects were by legend Ray Harryhausen, and Raquel's costar was John Richardson.
The Magic Christian"The Magic Christian" was based on the Terry Southern novel. Southern was the writer who penned "Dr. Strangelove," so there were high hopes for this film. Like many films of the period, though, it tried to do too much and lost its way. The one standout, though, was Raquel Welch in a cameo as a whip-wielding dominatrix in charge of rowers of a pleasure barge. Nobody really remembers the film anymore, which starred Peter Sellers and Ringo Starr, but lots of viewers remember Raquel and her sexy leather outfit.
|With Ringo Starr in "The Magic Christian." Several slightly different versions of this follow|
Myra Breckinridge"Myra Breckinridge" was a disaster. The studio, Twentieth Century Fox, was facing a generational shift and lost its footing. Seeking to capture the youthful audience that was more interested in rock concerts and protests than standard films, it hired a young, inexperienced director in the hope he could infuse a swingin' 60s vibe to the hit Gore Vidal novel. Unfortunately, it didn't work, the film turned out to be an incoherent mess, and the film only managed to ruin the comeback of Mae West and the attempted breakout of Farrah Fawcett. Mae never really came back, Farrah had to wait long years until Charlie's Angels rescued her career from oblivion, and Raquel, well, she just marched on to her next film.
|Nice chaps, around the time of "Myra Breckinridge."|
Random ShotsWhile "One Million Years B.C." opened a lot of doors for Raquel Welch, "Myra Breckinridge" closed many of them again. Still, she persevered and did some fine work in the early '70s, including lead roles in outstanding films such as "Hannie Caulder," "The Three Musketeers" and "Mother, Jugs and Speed." By the middle of the decade, though, the leading roles had dried up and Raquel turned to television movies. More recently, she has been a semi-regular on a string of television series, with the occasional movie role such as in the "Legally Blonde." It is a classic career arc, and Raquel has played it perfectly. Below are various shots, all from her heyday in the 1970s.
|"Mork and Mindy."|
|Having a little fun. Raquel developed a bit of a reputation as a playgirl in the '70s|