US Actress Raquel Welch Dies at Age 82

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In a career spanning over five decades, Welch appeared in more than 30 movies and 50 television shows. She won a Golden Globe for her role in 1974’s The Three Musketeers.

Raquel Welch, a US veteran actress who rose to prominence in the 1960s in the films “One Million Years B.C.” and “Fantastic Voyage, has died at the age of 82.

Welch passed away peacefully on Wednesday morning in Los Angeles after a brief illness, her manager, Steve Sauer, said.

The star, who became an international sex symbol in the 1960s, got her start as a spokesmodel on a variety show, “Hollywood Palace,” and had a small role in the Elvis Presley musical “Roustabout” in 1964.

The Chicago-born actress began her career with the release of the sci-fi film “Fantastic Voyage” and the fantasy film “One Million Years B.C.,” where she played a bikini-clad woman, a role that turned her into an international sex symbol.

Despite her public image, however, she long expressed discomfort with the representation of her body, once saying she “was not brought up to be a sex symbol, nor is it in my nature to be one”.

“The fact that I became one is probably the loveliest, most glamorous, and fortunate misunderstanding,” she added.

She went on to address her image in her memoir, Raquel: Beyond the Cleavage, in which she opened up about her childhood, her early career woes as a single mother in Hollywood, and why she would never lie about her age.

The divorced mother-of-two, who was born Jo-Raquel Tejada in 1940, also later dedicated time to a career as an entrepreneur, releasing her own signature line of wigs, a jewellery and skincare collection, and a Mac Cosmetics makeup line.

Actress Reese Witherspoon was among those who paid tribute to her, writing on Twitter that she “loved” working with Welch on Legally Blonde.

“She was elegant, professional, and glamorous beyond belief,” Witherspoon said. “Simply stunning.”

Actress and producer Viola Davis posted a clip of Welch singing “I’m a Woman” with Cher in 1975, writing: “You were ageless to me...iconic.”

Actor Paul Feig said he enjoyed working with her on the TV series Sabrina the Teenage Witch.

“Kind, funny, and a true superstar whom I was pretty much in love with for most of my childhood,” he wrote. “We’ve lost a true icon.”

Welch leaves behind a son, Damon Welch, and daughter Latanne “Tahnee” Welch, who is also an actress.