Having just three lines of dialogue in a movie usually isn’t enough to make you worldwide famous. But for Raquel Welch, that was exactly what happened. Even though it wasn’t exactly the kind of breakthrough she was expecting—the role turned her into a sex symbol, something she had never tried to be from the start—it’s still a breakthrough she doesn’t regret having. The movie in question is One Million Years B.C., and it is the origin of Welch’s iconic pose in a fur-hide bikini. From there, it was role after role for the Golden Globe-winning actress. Becoming an enduring sex symbol wasn’t so easy for Welch, though, as the sensational actress got married—and divorced—four times.
A Look at Some of Raquel Welch’s Best Roles
Raquel Welch has enjoyed an acting career that has spanned over six decades of cinematic and television roles. Before her unexpected fame thanks to her role as Loana in One Million Years B.C., Welch had already received both main and supporting roles in other movies and TV shows. Along the way, the actress even took up stage productions and appeared in a few from ’73 to ’97. Altogether, Raquel’s filmography boasts over sixty different acting credits in everything from films to TV shows. With a filmography so expansive, a look at some of Welch’s best roles is in order.
After getting small roles in films and TV series, Welch had her first featured role in A Swingin’ Summer in ’65, a beach party comedy film that also features Welch’s singing debut. The film’s soundtrack also features songs from Gary Lewis & the Playboys, The Rip Chords, Jody Miller, and Carol Connors. The movie led to her discovery by the wife of producer Saul David, who then recommended her to 20th Century Fox. She signed a seven-year nonexclusive contract with the studio.
She landed her first leading role under 20th Century Fox in the sci-fi movie Fantastic Voyage, where she played the part of Cora Peterson, a member of a medical team that is shrunk down and injected into an injured diplomat’s body to save his life. It was a big hit, making Welch a star. It was after Fantastic Voyage that Welch was loaned to Hammer Studios, who cast her in One Million Years B.C.
By ’67, Raquel Welch appeared in Bedazzled, a British comic retelling of the legend of Dr. Faust. The film, directed and produced by Stanley Donen, stars Peter Cook and his comedy partner Dudley Moore, Eleanor Bron, and Welch as Lust incarnate Lilian Lust. With a budget of $770k, the movie was a commercial success with $2.82 million in box office returns.
Bandolero was Welch’s next big movie role was in the western, Bandolero! It also marked a turn to less revealing roles. As Welch said of her performance, “…at least I’m not Miss Sexpot running around half-naked all the time.” Bandolero also starred James Stewart and Dean Martin. In ’68, Welch appeared with Frank Sinatra in Lady in Cement, a detective film and sequel to Tony Rome. She continued to show her acting chops in 100 Rifles, a ’69 western based on Robert MacLeod’s novel The Californio. Shot in Spain, it stars Welch, Jim Brown, and Burt Reynolds.
Raquel Welch next appeared in the titular role of Hannie Caulder, a British Western directed by Burt Kennedy. It also stars Robert Culp and Ernest Borgnine. Despite initially negative reviews the film received, it began to receive more positive reviews upon retrospection. Quentin Tarantino also pointed out Hannie Caulder as one of his inspirations for Kill Bill.
Raquel Welch Was Married Four Times
With all the glitz and glamor that surround Hollywood weddings, fans are usually left praying that the marriages of their favorite celebrity couples last beyond the fanfare and hype surrounding the ceremonies. While some of these marriages do last, the others don’t, and these often leads to a celebrity with multiple exes. Raquel Welch falls into the latter group, having been married four times to four different people. With the experience of each failed marriage, Welch decided to stick with the single life.
Asked why she believes her marriages failed by Piers Morgan on his Life Stories show, Welch—who got her last name from her first husband—said it’s because she doesn’t like to have a man. As she put it: “Because I’m too set in my ways. I like what I do, I actually enjoy being me and I make a very good living at it and I’m happy. I don’t have to have a man.” Speaking further, she noted that her stardom and influence always ended up being a problem for the men she has been with. Though they may enjoy the attention in the beginning, the fact that Welch herself becomes the focus of all attention in the room. None of her husbands ever fully appreciated that fact.
1. James Welch (1959 – 1964)
Before the fame began pouring in, Welch attended La Jolla High School, California, where she dated James Welch. After graduating from high school in ’58, Welch found out she was pregnant for James. The couple decided to get married, with the ceremony happening in May ’59. By November of the same year, Raquel and James had their first child together; a son named Damon Welch. By December of ’61, the family grew some more with the welcome of daughter Latanne Rene Welch, who is more commonly known as the model and actress Tahnee Welch.
Despite her desire to spend the rest of her life with James, Raquel soon found out that not all marriages get to have fairytale endings. By ‘62, the couple separated. By ’64, they became officially divorced.
2. Patrick Curtis (1967 – 1972)
Raquel Welch didn’t stay too long as a single lady. In ’67, she married American producer Patrick Curtis. At the time, she was beginning to enjoy some fame from the movie industry and her marriage to Curtis helped that fame grow. Curtis had a hand in promoting Welch’s career as he produced several movies she starred in.
Despite that, Welch has revealed she ended up feeling rather unhappy and manipulated in the marriage, and by ’72 marriage number two ended.
3. Andre Weinfeld (1980 – 1990)
Three times is usually the charm, as the saying goes. With the dreams and magic surrounding Hollywood, Welch hoped that her third time would indeed be the charm. So, when she met French-American producer Andre Weinfeld in Paris in ’77, Welch thought her third-time charm had finally come to roost. Weinfeld even moved to Hollywood so he could be with her. In ’80, the couple exchanged nuptials.
This marriage ended up being Raquel Welch’s longest one, lasting a whole ten years before it ended. In a 2015 interview with Closer Weekly, Weinfeld revealed they had been happy, calling himself a champion for being able to stay married to the American heartthrob the longest. He also acknowledged that though she had promised to sail into the sunset after the marriage was over, she got hitched again.
4. Richard Palmer (1999 – 2008)
With three marriages done, Welch decided to try a different approach the fourth time around. She went for Richard Palmer, a man who was younger than the pop icon by fifteen years. Palmer owned a restaurant in Los Angeles and was engaged to another woman when he met Raquel Welch. He called off the engagement and kept his eyes on Raquel, eventually tying the knot with her in ’99. The marriage went well for a spell until it ended in 2008. It was this last divorce that led Welch to swear off men and embrace her single life.
Besides her marriages, Welch has also had a colorful love life, having been in relationships with Warren Beatty, Steve McQueen, and Dudley Moore. The relationships, according to the 60s icon, ended up not being very serious ones.