Raquel Welch Dead at 82: Actress Was a Symbol of the Liberated ’60s

Raquel Welch is dead at the age of 82. Her manager Steve Sauer broke the news to People.

Widely known as a “sex symbol” in the 1960s, when her beauty and iconic fur bikini was practically the sole selling point of the hit film “One Million Years B.C.,” Welch became something much more in her later years.

Born in Chicago and raised in San Diego, Welch was the daughter of an immigrant from Bolivia. Her journey through Hollywood in the ’60s and beyond represents the fraught evolution of representation on the big screen. Married at 18, the girl originally named Jo Raquel Tejada kept her husband’s Anglo name even after her separation from him in her bid to make it big in Hollywood — and avoid the typecasting of Latina actresses typical of the time.

Having won beauty pageants since the age of 14, Welch studied theater at San Diego State College, and worked as a cocktail waitress, a TV weather forecaster, and a model for Neiman Marcus as her marriage fizzled. Those jobs speak to what was noticed by all: her stunning beauty, which ultimately allowed her entry to Hollywood while limiting the kind of roles that were available to her.

More to come…

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