Real name: Jo Raquel Tejada
Birthdate: September 5, 1940
Partner: Richard Palmer
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Welch was born in Chicago, Illinois, the oldest of three children born to Armando Carlos Tejada Urquizo and Josephine Sarah Hall. Her father, who immigrated from La Paz, Bolivia, was an aerospace engineer of Castilian Spanish descent; her mother was an Irish-American.
In 1942, Armando Tejada was transferred to San Diego, California. The family moved to the suburb of La Jolla, where Welch grew up. She took dancing lessons as a child, and was winning beauty pageants by the time she was a teenager. Among her titles were "Miss Photogenic," "Miss La Jolla," "Miss Contour," and "Miss San Diego." In 1957, she was named "Miss Fairest of the Fair" at the San Diego County Fair. After attending La Jolla High School, she entered San Diego State College on a theater arts scholarship. The following year she married a high school sweetheart, James Welch.
In 1959, Welch played the title role in the famous Ramona Pageant, a yearly outdoor play at Hemet, California, which is based on the novel Ramona by Helen Hunt Jackson.Raquel Welch as Loana in One Million Years B.C. (1966)
She became a weather forecaster at KFMB, a local San Diego television station. Because of her heavy schedule, she decided to leave college. Her marriage broke up and she moved with her two children to Dallas, Texas, where she modeled for Neiman Marcus and worked as a cocktail hostess, intending to move on to New York City from there.
Welch's first featured role was in A Swingin' Summer, which led to a contract with 20th Century Fox. She was then cast in the Sci-fi hit Fantastic Voyage (1966), which finally made her a star.
On loan out to Hammer Studios in Britain, Welch starred in the remake of One Million Years B.C.. After her appearance as Lust incarnate in the hit Bedazzled, she returned to the United States and appeared in a Western with James Stewart and Dean Martin titled Bandolero!, which was followed by Lady in Cement with Frank Sinatra.Myra Breckinridge (1970)
Welch's first real starring role was in Myra Breckinridge with Mae West. She took the role as the film's transsexual heroine in an attempt to be taken seriously as an actress, but the movie turned out to be a dismal failure.
She has also performed in a nightclub act in Las Vegas and has starred on Broadway in Woman of the Year and in Victor/Victoria, replacing Julie Andrews.
In a 1997 episode of the comedy series Seinfeld entitled "The Summer of George" Welch played a highly temperamental version of herself, assaulting series stars Kramer and Elaine, the former because he fired her from an acting job and the latter because Welch mistakenly thought that Elaine was mocking her.
On July 18, 2007 Liz Smith reported that Welch has been invited to play Eva Longoria's sexy aunt on Desperate Housewives.
"The Raquel Welch Total Beauty and Fitness Program" was published in 1984. The book, written by Welch herself includes a Hatha Yoga fitness program, her views on healthy living/nutrition, as well as beauty and personal style.
As a businesswoman Welch has experienced great success with her signature line of wigs. She also began a jewelry and skincare line although neither of those ventures compared to the success of her wig collection.
In 1974, Raquel Welch won a Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture Actress in a Musical or Comedy for The Three Musketeers. She was also nominated for a Golden Globe for her performance in the TV drama Right to Die (1987).