The actress, model and sex symbol known as Raquel Welch was one of the most iconic figures in Hollywood movies throughout the 60s and 70s. Originally Jo Raquel Tejada, the Chicago-born movie star moved to San Diego when she was two, and it was during her youth that she felt a calling to be an entertainer.
Dance classes and beauty pageants eventually paved the way for her theatre pursuits, and she even attended San Diego State College on a theater arts scholarship for a period of time.
Eventually marrying James Welch (whose surname she used throughout her career, despite their eventual separation), she became a mother to two children, and when she and her husband went their separate ways, she moved to Dallas with her kids.
Raquel Welch’s big break
After living in Dallas for a few years, she moved to Los Angeles where she slowly began making a name for herself in the film and television industry. Her early roles were in films like A House Is Not a Home (1964) and Roustabout (1964), prior to her breakout featured role in A Swingin’ Summer in 1965.
However, it was her 1966 role in Fantastic Voyage that made her a star. The roles that came in the film’s wake solidified her status as a certified pin-up girl and sex symbol.
Despite her passing in February of 2023, we still remember her as one of the most revered female figures in Hollywood. Here, take a look at some of the most iconic Raquel Welch movies over the course of her career.
Best Raquel Welch movies
One Million Years B.C. (1966)
Raquel Welch’s role in One Million Years B.C. put her in perhaps one of her most iconic looks: a deer skin bikini. With only a few lines in the film, she still managed to steal the show as Loana the Fair One. The film itself told the story of a time in which humans and dinosaurs roamed the earth together — a plot that Welch wasn’t initially jumping for joy over.
“I told (Fox’s studio head) Dick Zanuck I didn’t think I was going to do it because it was a dinosaur movie and I didn’t want to be caught dead in a dinosaur movie,” Welch told Fox News. “And he was not sympathetic to that.”
She continued, “He said, ‘No, you’re going to do it Raquel. And listen Raqui, you’re going to become a huge star!’ I said, ‘What? What am I even going to wear? What happened in dinosaur time?…He said, ‘Don’t worry, they’ll figure something out.’ And they sure did.”
One Million Years B.C. remains one of the most iconic Raquel Welch movies to date!
Raquel Welch stars as Fathom Harvill, a skydiver who has been recruited to retrieve an atomic bomb detonator that’s fallen into the wrong hands. The film also stars Anthony Franciosa.
Bedazzled tells the story of a short order cook who sells his soul to the devil in exchange for seven wishes. Aiding the devil are the seven deadly sins, one of which is Lust, played by none other than the striking Raquel Welch.
Raquel Welch stars as Maria Stoner in Bandolero!, alongside James Stewart, Dean Martin and George Kennedy. This western classic tells the story of two brothers on the run from a group led by the local sheriff. Welch stars as the hostage taken by the two brothers, a valuable asset to the sheriff, which further motivates his chase.
Lady In Cement (1968)
Starring Frank Sinatra and Raquel Welch, this picture tells the story of Tony Rome (Sinatra), a private investigator who discovers the body of a woman with her feet encased in cement at the bottom of the ocean off the coast of Miami. Welch later admitted how enamored she was with Sinatra when filming the movie.
100 Rifles (1969)
Burt Reynolds stars alongside Raquel Welch in 100 Rifles as a Native American who robs a bank in order to buy rifles for his people in 1912 Mexico. The film also featured Jim Brown and Fernando Lamas. A love scene between Jim Brown and Raquel Welch sparked controversy, as an interracial relationship had yet to be portrayed on screen in such a way.
Myra Breckinridge (1970)
Raquel Welch starred as the movie’s namesake, a character who underwent gender reassignment surgery. After her operation, she goes to an acting school that her uncle owns and aims to claim half of his estate. Instead, he gives her a job teaching at the school, and a series of unusual events ensue.
Hannie Caulder (1971)
Another one of Raquel Welch’s western endeavors, Welch took on the role of a Hannie Caulder, a frontier wife who, after facing a brutal attack and the violent murder of her husband, hires a bounty hunter (Robert Culp) to teach her how to shoot so she can get revenge on the three men behind the attack.
Kansas City Bomber (1972)
Raquel Welch stars in Kansas City Bomber as roller derby skater K.C. Carr. Joining a new team, her new situation is far from ideal, as she clashes with the the self-interested team owner who only wishes to use others to his advantage.
The Three Musketeers (1973)
A man sets out for Paris in the hopes of joining the King’s elite musketeers. After a series of events, he becomes something of an ally to three musketeers, Athos, Porthos, and Aramis, and all the while, finds himself romantically involved with Constance Bonancieux (Welch), his landlord’s wife.
The Wild Party (1975)
With the arrival of sound films, a silent film star no longer holds Hollywood’s interest the way he once did. In an effort to remedy this, he throws a massive party where he plans to show the footage from his latest project to the attendees. Welch plays Queenie, his loyal mistress.
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