Speed Reads

rest in peace

Actress Raquel Welch dies at 82

Raquel Welch, the bombshell actress who rose to worldwide fame after appearing in the 1966 film One Million Years B.C., died on Wednesday. She was 82.

Her management company, Media Four, said in a statement that Welch died "peacefully" following a brief illness.

Born Jo Raquel Tejada on Sept. 5, 1940, she moved from Chicago to La Jolla, California, when she was a toddler. She won her first beauty pageant at 14, and was named Maid of California in 1958. Welch worked as a weather girl for a San Diego television station before moving to Los Angeles to pursue an acting career. In the mid-1960s, she became a contract player at 20th Century Fox, and the studio suggested she change her name to Debbie, because Raquel "felt too ethnic," she told the Los Angeles Times in a later interview. But, she refused, saying, "I'm proud of my Bolivian heritage."

She had three lines in One Million Years B.C., but her appearance in a bikini on the movie's poster launched her to stardom. "In one fell swoop, everything in my life changed and everything about the real me was swept away," she wrote in her 2010 memoir. "All else would be eclipsed by this bigger than life sex symbol."

Welch's career went on to span over five decades, and the Golden Globe winner starred in more than 30 films with 50 television roles and appearances. She also had a turn on Broadway, earning rave reviews in 1981 for her performance in the musical Woman of the Year. In recent years, Welch launched a wig line, and starred in the sitcom Date My Dad. She is survived by her son Damon Welch and daughter Tahnee Welch.