Raquel Welch's Life in Photos

The Golden Globe winner, whose career spanned 50 years and included films like Fantastic Voyage and One Million Years B.C., died at age 82 after a brief illness

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Raquel Welch's Early Life

Raquel Welch life in pics

Jo Raquel Tejada, a.k.a. Raquel Welch, was born on Sept. 5, 1940, in Chicago to Bolivian-born engineer Armando Carlos Tejada Urquizo and his American wife, Josephine Sarah Halland.

"By age 7 I knew I wanted to be an actress," Welch told PEOPLE in 2010. "My parents enrolled me in a theater program. You could get away from some of the painfulness of real life. I always had flights of fancy."

However, she added, after finding fame, "I didn't know whether to cry because I was so frightened or be thrilled."

02 of 11

Raquel Welch in One Million Years B.C.

Raquel Welch life in pics

Shooting her star-making movie One Million Years B.C. in the Canary Islands in the late 1960s, "it was freezing cold," she recalled. "They had to put hot coals below the cameras so they wouldn't ice up." As for that famous fur bikini, "I still have it in storage," she shared. "It's not like I wear it to the beach."

03 of 11

Raquel Welch's Workout Routine

Raquel Welch life in pics

The actress told PEOPLE the secret to her fabulous physique was "10 years of classical ballet," but added, "I never enjoyed being photographed that much. It makes me more self-conscious than usual."

04 of 11

Raquel Welch's Children

Raquel Welch life in pics
Courtesy Raquel Welch

The actress married four times, first to high school sweetheart James Welch, with whom she had son Damon, born in 1959, and daughter Tahnee, born in 1961.

She later told PEOPLE that after she made it big, "it was difficult for [my kids]. I was making movies. I had long hours."

After her split from Welch, she married producer Patrick Curtis in 1967, divorcing him in 1972.

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Raquel Welch and Burt Reynolds

Raquel Welch life in pics
20TH Century Fox

The first time Welch saw her 100 Rifles costar Burt Reynolds in 1969, "I was on a plane waiting to be taken to the Spanish desert to make the film," she recalled. "I saw him walking across the tarmac and I said, 'Who the hell is that?' Wow, he was hot!" They would make four films together. "I always thought he was so cool," she added.

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Raquel Welch and Arnold Schwarzenegger

Raquel Welch life in pics
Frank Edwards/Getty

The star hung with Arnold Schwarzenegger at the 1977 Golden Globe Awards. Three years prior, Welch won her first award for The Three Musketeers, and would be nominated once more in 1987 for Right to Die.

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Raquel Welch's Roles

American actress Raquel Welch wearing a yellow shirt and bikini bottoms on the set of the spy film 'Fathom', 1967.
Raquel Welch in 1967. Silver Screen Collection/Getty

In her time on screen, Welch starred in other memorable projects, including C.P.W., Spin City, American Family, Legally Blonde and even on Broadway in 1982's Woman of the Year. She was also active in Bob Hope's USO tours of the 1960s.

"I never thought life was going to give me something for nothing," she said. "I've had a great life."

08 of 11

Raquel Welch and André Weinfeld

Raquel Welch life in pics
Courtesy Raquel Welch

On her 1980 wedding day in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, to her third husband, French screenwriter André Weinfeld (with kids Damon and Tahnee), "Robert Mitchum happened to be at the hotel, and he came by the reception," Welch shared.

Welch and Weinfeld split in 1990. She later wed restaurateur Richard Palmer in 1999, but split from him in 2003.

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Raquel Welch on Seinfeld

Raquel Welch life in pics

"I was a big fan of the show," she said of her memorable guest turn on Seinfeld (here, with Michael Richards) in 1997. "They made me into a Broadway diva."

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Raquel Welch's Wig Line

Raquel Welch with American Cancer Society participant. The Raquel Welch Signature Collection donated $1 million in wigs to the American Cancer Society in honor of her 65th birthday and she spent the day choosing styles from the collection with cancer patients.
L. Cohen/WireImage

Along the way, Welch became famous for launching an eponymous line of wigs.

"These are not your grandmother's wigs," she told Wigs.com in 2011. "Your hair is such an important part of how you present yourself as a woman. Why not utilize the advantage of wigs and help yourself? Achieve your best self."

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Raquel Welch's Final Years

Raquel Welch life in pics
Donato Sardella/Getty

The actress was last seen in public in 2017 at PORTER Hosts Incredible Women Gala in Association with Estée Lauder at NeueHouse Los Angeles, where she mingled with celebrities like Brie Larson and gave a speech. That year marked her final roles, too, in How to Be a Latin Lover and 10 episodes of Date My Dad.

On Feb. 15, 2023, PEOPLE confirmed the actress had died at the age of 82 following a brief illness.

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