U.S. actress and model Raquel Welch has died at the age of 82 after battling a brief illness.
In a statement, her rep confirmed the star’s death on Wednesday, saying, “Raquel Welch, the legendary bombshell actress of film, television and stage, passed away peacefully early this morning after a brief illness.”
Paying tribute to the late actress, the rep added,
“The 82-year-old actress burst into Hollywood in her initial roles in [‘One Million Years B.C.’] and ‘Fantastic Voyage.’ Her career spanned over 50 years starring in over 30 films and 50 television series and appearances. The Golden Globe winner, in more recent years, was involved in a very successful line of wigs.”
Welch was born Jo Raquel Tejada in 1940 in California. She began her career in entertainment through beauty pageants, of which she won ten. She then went on to become a local weather forecaster.
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Welch rose to fame as an international sex symbol in the 1960s and is widely known for her role in the 1966 film ‘One Million Years B.C.’, in which she had only a few lines but appeared in a memorable two-piece deer-skin bikini.
She also won a Golden Globe for her role in the 1974 film ‘The Three Musketeers.’
Despite her reputation in Hollywood, Welch often said that she was uncomfortable with her sexualized representation. She insisted that she “was not brought up to be a sex symbol,” and added that it was not in her nature to be one.
“The fact that I became [a sex symbol] is probably the loveliest, most glamorous and fortunate misunderstanding,” Welch said.
In her memoir, “Raquel: Beyond the Cleavage,” she wrote about her role in ‘One Million Years B.C.,’ saying, “I was happy that I had got a break so I could have my career, but at the same time, it was like: ‘This isn’t me. But this is what I have to do because this is my ticket to ride.'”
In 1994, Welch got a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Throughout her career, she has starred alongside some of Hollywood’s top male celebrities including Frank Sinatra, James Stewart, Robert Wagner, Dean Martin, Burt Reynolds, and Elvis Presley.
Raquel is survived by her two children, son Damon Welch and her daughter, Tahnee Welch.