Raquel Welch, actress and pinup starlet, has died, ABC News has confirmed. According to a rep, “The legendary bombshell actress of film, television and stage, passed away peacefully early this morning after a brief illness.”
She was 82.
Born Jo Raquel Tejada in Chicago in 1940, Welch was a beauty pageant winner in her youth, before stepping in front of the camera to briefly work as a weather person at a San Diego TV station.
Her big break came in the form of three lines of dialogue — but particularly a fur bikini — in the 1966 campy film One Million Years B.C. Welch also appeared that year in the science fiction film Fantastic Voyage.
The early films cemented her role as a sex symbol, a reputation she often poked fun at, including in the title of her 2010 memoir, Raquel: Beyond the Cleavage.
For 1975’s The Three Musketeers, Welch appeared opposite Faye Dunaway and Charlton Heston, snagging a Golden Globe for Best Actress in the film comedy category. She’d be nominated again in the drama category for the 1987 movie Right to Die.
Welch received her Hollywood Walk of Fame star in 1996.
In 1997, Welch came to a new audience while appearing in the penultimate season finale of Seinfeld. Playing a diva version of herself in the installment called “The Summer of George,” Welch poked fun at her persona, physically taking on Michael Richards‘ Kramer and later Julia Louis-Dreyfus‘ Elaine after her character was fired from the fictitious Tony-winning play Scarsdale Surprise.
In 2001, she had supporting roles on the big screen in the hit Legally Blonde and the indie film Tortilla Soup.
Married four times, Welch leaves behind two children, son Damon Welch and daughter Tahnee Welch.
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