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Raquel Welch: 1940—: Actress

Featured In Interracial Love Scene

After Welch toured South Vietnam with comedian Bob Hope, producers were typecasting her mostly as a representation of physical beauty. She found film work mostly in Europe, appearing in the United States in Bedazzled (1968) as a character who embodied the inspiration of Lust. Welch was in the news the following year because of the western 100 Rifles, which featured her in an early interracial love scene with former football star Jim Brown. There was a good-natured quality even to Welch's least ambitious film outings that bespoke a greater talent than she had yet been allowed to show, but her first lead role, in 1970's Myra Breckinridge, was a disastrous flop all around.

Attempting to salvage something usable in the film, Welch gained a reputation for being difficult to work with—entirely undeserved in her view. "All I ever fought for was quality in my films," she was quoted as saying in Ladies Home Journal. "I really felt I was being penalized for being the sex symbol they had created, and that made my Spanish blood boil." Her appearance in The Three Musketeers (1973) and its sequel allowed her to show her considerable sense of humor. Nevertheless, her film roles of the 1970s were largely forgettable; they included the roller-derby drama Kansas City Bomber (1973). Welch had more luck with several television specials over which she could exercise more creative control. After divorcing Curtis in 1971, she married French producer André Weinfeld in 1977.

The year 1981 brought Welch serious disappointment, and then finally creative triumph and respect. She was dropped from the cast of the movie adaptation of John Steinbeck's Cannery Row in 1981 in favor of Debra Winger. The studio, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, claimed that Welch's behavior on the set had been unprofessional; Welch argued that the studio was merely trying to cut costs and sued for $20 million. After a long court battle she was awarded $10.8 million, but later even that award was overturned. The debacle did have a positive outcome, however: Welch fled Hollywood for New York and a starring role in the Broadway musical Woman of the Year. That appearance brought Welch the critical respect she craved, although its strenuous schedule may have caused her to suffer a miscarriage after she became pregnant with her third child.

In 1984 Welch marketed three successful fitness videos, and she increasingly found success with television projects. In the 1987 made-for-TV film Right to Die, she gave a widely praised and decidedly unglamorous performance as a woman suffering from a terminal disease. Welch occasionally appeared in movies, playing herself in the final installment of the Naked Gun spoof series, The Naked Gun 33 1/3, and found several guest star slots in both dramatic and comic television series through the 1990s. She often, as on one episode of Seinfeld, played herself and gently spoofed her image. She returned to the stage as a replacement for Julie Andrews in the comic musical Victor/Victoria in 1997. In 1999 she married pizza chain owner Richard Palmer, 14 years her junior. In 2002 Welch appeared in American Family, a television series featuring a Latino family.

Selected films

A House Is Not a Home, 1964.

Roustabout, 1964.

Do Not Disturb, 1965.

A Swingin' Summer, 1965.

Fantastic Voyage, 1966.

Fathom, 1966.

Shoot Loud, Louder, I Don't Understand!, 1966.

Bedazzled, 1967.

The Queens: The Oldest Profession, 1967.

One Million Years B.C., 1967.

Bandolero!, 1968.

The Biggest Bundle of Them All, 1968.

Lady in Cement, 1968.

Flare Ups, 1969.

100 Rifles, 1969.

The Magic Christian, 1970.

Myra Breckenridge, 1970.

Hannie Calder, 1971.

Bluebeard, 1972.

Fuzz, 1972.

Kansas City Bomber, 1972.

The Last of Sheila, 1973.

The Three Musketeers, 1974.

Wild Party, 1974.

The Four Musketeers, 1975.

Mother, Jugs and Speed, 1976.

L' Animal, 1977.

Crossed Swords, 1978.

The Prince and the Pauper, 1978.

Restless, 1978.

You and Me Together, 1979.

Stuntwoman, 1981.

The Legend of Walks Far Woman, 1982.

Right to Die, 1987.

Scandal in a Small Town, 1988.

Trouble in Paradise, 1988.

Hero for Hire, 1990.



Dictionary of Hispanic Biography, Gale, 1996. Haining, Peter, Raquel Welch, St. Martin's, 1984. International Dictionary of Films and Filmmakers,

Volume 3: Actors and Actresses, St. James, 1996.


Entertainment Weekly, June 20, 1997, p. 28.

Hispanic, April 1988, p. 20.

Ladies Home Journal, February 1985, p. 44; May 1989, p. 46.

People, August 2, 1999, p. 110.

Variety, June 30, 1997, p. 72.


Internet Movie Database http://us.imdb.com

All Movie Guide http://www.allmovie.com

—James M. Manheim

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Brief BiographiesBiographies: Carlos Watson Biography - Was a Student Journalist to Stefan Zweig (1881–1942) BiographyRaquel Welch: 1940—: Actress Biography - Appeared In Elvis Presley Film, Featured In Interracial Love Scene