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Raquel Welch: 1940—: Actress

Appeared In Elvis Presley Film

In the spring of 1959 Raquel married her high school boyfriend James Welch, and the couple quickly had a son and daughter (daughter Tahnee has gone on to an acting career of her own, appearing in 1985's Cocoon, among other films). She tried to break into films and television, enjoying little success but landing a shot on the weather segment of a San Diego television station for a time. The marriage fell apart in 1964, and Welch deposited her children with her parents and lit out for New York, dreaming of stardom. She got as far as Dallas, where she modeled and worked as a cocktail waitress. She returned to California discouraged, but now began to land bit parts in films such as Elvis Presley's Roustabout.

Welch rocketed to stardom as a result of meeting a male American entertainment entrepreneur who made a career out of developing and promoting the talents of young female stars. Welch and publicist Patrick Curtis formed a company primarily devoted to the promotion of Welch's career; the pair married around 1967. Several more parts and a Life magazine photo spread brought Welch to the attention of the Twentieth-Century Fox studios; she was signed to a contract and was featured in the science-fiction film Fantastic Voyage (1966).

At a Glance . . .

Born Raquel Tejada in Chicago, Illinois, September 5, 1940; daughter of a Bolivian-American engineer father and an Anglo-American mother; married James Welch, 1959 (divorced 1964); married Patrick Curtis, 1967 (divorced 1971); married André Weinfeld, 1980 (divorced); married Richard Palmer, 1999; children: Damon and Tahnee; two adopted children. Education: Attended San Diego State College.

Career: Weather reader on a television station in San Diego, early 1960s; film debut in A House Is Not a Home, 1964; signed to 20th Century Fox studio, 1966; roles in Fantastic Voyage and One Million Years B.C., 1966-67; appeared on Broadway in Woman of the Year, 1982; many guest-star appearances on television, 1980s and 1990s.

Awards: Golden Globe award, 1974, The Three Musketeers.

Addresses: Agent—Cunninghame, Escott, Dipene & Associates, 10635 Santa Monica Blvd., Suite 130, Los Angeles, CA 90025.

That film was widely acclaimed, but Welch's next few outings, mostly low-budget comedies made in Europe, were less prestigious. Still, Welch acquiesced in her growing image as sex symbol; she told Hispanic magazine that at the time she thought it was fun "to strut my stuff." That image grew into full flower with the 1966 British production One Million Years B.C., a remake of a tale set in prehistoric times that allowed Welch to strut her stuff in a bikini made of animal fur pelts. As a result she landed on the cover of over 100 magazines, although the film itself had been only a modest success.

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