The Three Musketeers
After a number of screen performances, Hollywood actress Raquel Welch confirmed her rising star status with a leading turn as Constance de Bonancieux in The Three Musketeers (1973), in which she won a Golden Globe Award. Welch also made a successful small screen debut by having the titular role of an Indian woman in The Legend of Walks Far Woman (1982), and took home a Western Heritage Bronze Wrangler Award. The actress also received rave reviews for her fine portrayal of Emily Bauer in the TV drama Right to Die (1987). Showing her versatility, Welch went to stage and took parts in several plays, such as “Woman of the Year” (1981) and George Bernard Shaw’s “The Millionairess” (1995 and 1998). Thanks to her fruitful journey in acting, she was handed the 2001 Imagen Foundation Lifetime Achievement Award.
“I do think she was a spectacular talent. There’s no question she was a comedic genius, but I did, in person, actually feel like she was some kind of a dock worker in drag.” Raquel Welch about Mae West
Off camera, the woman with measurements 37D-26-36 (at age 43 in 1985, source: Celebrity Sleuth magazine), Welch once had a well-publicized backstage feud with the sex bombshell of the 1930s, Mae West, on the set of Myra Breckinridge (1970). Ten years later, she again made headlines with a lawsuit against MGM Studio over her dismissal from the film Cannery Row, which she finally won a $14 million judgment in her favor. The controversial actress, who some time ago became the TV spokesperson for Equal sweetener, was named the 18th “Sexiest Stars in Film History” in the 1995 issue of Empire magazine. The next year, she received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
As for her private life, Welch has been married four times. She was once the wife of James Welch (1959-1964), Patrick Curtis (1964-1972), Andre Weinfeld (1980-1990) and Richard Palmer (1999-now). She is also the mother of two, a son and a daughter.
Childhood and Family:
Raquel Welch was born Jo Raquel Tejada, on September 5, 1940, in Chicago, Illinois, to a Bolivian father (Armand Tejada) and an American mother (Josephine Esterly, died on October 17, 2000). When she was 3, the family moved to La Jolla, California.
Displaying an enthusiasm for performing, young Raquel took ballet and acting lessons, which led to a performance in 1947 at San Diego’s Old Globe Theatre, with a children’s theater group. After graduating from La Jolla High School in 1958, she continued her studies and took a Drama program at the San Diego State College.
Raquel has been married four times. In 1959, she married her high-school sweetheart, James Welch, and gave birth to two children: a son named Damon Welch (born in 1960) and a daughter, Tahnee Welch (born in 1961), who later also became an actress. In the fifth year of their marriage, the couple separated. Raquel’s second marriage was in 1964 with her manager Patrick Curtis (also producer, born in 1938), but the marriage ended in divorce in 1972. In 1980, she exchanged wedding vows with actor, director and cinematographer Andre Weinfeld (born on April 6, 1947), but they eventually divorced ten years later. The actress is currently the wife of Richard Palmer, whom she married on July 17, 1999.
Walks Far Woman
Teenager Raquel Welch competed in several beauty contests and won the titles Miss Fairest of the Fair, Miss Maid of California, Miss La Jolla, and Miss Contour. In the early 60s, Welch moved to Dallas, Texas, where she did modeling for Neiman-Marcus and worked as a cocktail waitress. After briefly returning to California, she migrated to Los Angeles and met producer Patrick Curtis, who became her manager and helped her appear on the small screen as a billboard girl in the family show “Hollywood Palace” (1964). Before long, she made a debut on the big screen in the small roll of a call girl in the adaptation of Polly Adler’s book, A House Is Not a Home (1964).
Welch acquired the larger role of Jeri in A Swingin’ Summer (1965). The new actress caught public attention when she was cast in the leading role of Loana, the bikini-clad cave woman, in One Million Years B.C. (1966). Next, she had a supporting turn as Lilian Lust in Bedazzled (1967), starred opposite James Stewart and Dean Martin in the Western movie Bandolero (1968, as Maria Stoner) and played the Priestess of the Whip in the comedy The Magic Christian (1969). Welch continued stepping up and hosted her own special TV show Raquel (1970), as well as undertook title roles in Myra Breckinridge (1970) and Hannie Caulder (1971).
Following her leading turn as roller-skater K. C. Carr in Kansas City Bomber (1972), the actress rose to a higher degree of eminence when director Richard Lester chose her to play the female lead role of Constance de Bonancieux in The Three Musketeers (1973). Thanks to her impressive performance, Welch took home a Golden Globe for Best Actress in a Musical/Comedy. Simultaneously filming the sequel, the actress reprised her role in Lester’s The Four Musketeers (1974), before appearing in The Wild Party (1975), Mother, Jugs, and Speed (1976, played Jugs), Richard Fleischer’s Crossed Swords (1977) and the made-for-TV family comedy The Muppets Go Hollywood (1979).
Welch went to Broadway and replaced Lauren Bacall’s role, Tess Harding, in “Woman of the Year” (1981), in which she received positive reviews. The next year, she appeared in her TV movie debut, The Legend of Walks Far Woman, playing the titular character of an Indian woman. As a sign of appreciation for her work in the Western movie, she was handed a Bronze Wrangler from the Western Heritage awards.
Welch, who took a five-year break from acting, reappeared on screen with her Golden Globe-nominated portrayal of psychologist Emily Bauer, who suffered from Lou Gehrig’s disease, in the made-for-TV drama Right to Die (1987). She followed it up with roles in Scandal in a Small Town (1988), and Trouble in Paradise (1989). Welch played the voice of Shelly Millstone in the animated TV film Hollyrock-a-Bye Baby (1993), before playing Diana Brock in the drama Central Park West (1995), a role she reprised in the serial version of the film that same year (1995-1996).
While working with the series, the actress toured England in George Bernard Shaw’s “The Millionairess” (1995), which was ensued by her second Broadway performance in “Victor/Victoria” (1997), where she replaced Julie Andrews. A year later, she starred in the staging of “The Millionairess” (1998) in Foxborough, Massachusetts. Also in 1998, Welch took a supporting turn as Grace Kosik in the big screen comedy Chairman of the Board, amid her guest-star appearances as Abby Lassiter in three episodes of the famous sitcom “Spin City” (1997, 1998, and 2000).
The recipient of the 2001 Imagen Foundation Lifetime Achievement award, Welch had the supporting role of Mrs. Windham Vandermark in the comedy Legally Blonde (2001). She also costarred as Aunt Dora in “An American Family” (2002-2004), opposite Edward James Olmos and Constance Marie. Recently, the actress was seen as ex-Las Vegas showgirl Christine DeLee, alongside Burt Reynolds and Robert Loggia, in the madcap comedy Forget About It (2006).
- Imagen Foundation: Lifetime Achievement Award, 2001
- Western Heritage: Bronze Wrangler - Fictional Television Drama, The Legend of Walks Far Woman, 1983
- Golden Globe: Best Motion Picture Actress - Musical/Comedy, The Three Musketeers, 1975