FROM WIKIPEDIA COMMONS
Jo Raquel Welch (née Tejada; September 5, 1940 – February 15, 2023) was an American actress.
Welch first won attention for her role in Fantastic Voyage (1966), after which she won a contract with 20th Century Fox. They lent her contract to the British studio Hammer Film Productions, for whom she made One Million Years B.C. (1966). Although she had only three lines of dialogue in the film, images of her in the doe-skin bikini became best-selling posters that turned her into an international sex symbol. She later starred in Bedazzled (1967), Bandolero! (1968), 100 Rifles (1969), Myra Breckinridge (1970) and Hannie Caulder (1971). She made several television variety specials.
Through her portrayal of strong female characters, which helped in her breaking the mold of the traditional sex symbol, Welch developed a unique film persona that made her an icon of the 1960s and 1970s. Her rise to stardom in the mid-1960s was partly credited with ending Hollywood’s vigorous promotion of the blonde bombshell. She won a Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture Actress in a Musical or Comedy in 1974 for her performance in The Three Musketeers. She was also nominated for a Golden Globe Award for Best Actress in Television Film for her performance in the film Right to Die (1987). In 1995, Welch was chosen by Empire magazine as one of the “100 Sexiest Stars in Film History”. Playboy ranked Welch No. 3 on their “100 Sexiest Stars of the Twentieth Century” list.
Welch died on February 15, 2023, at her home in Los Angeles, following a brief illness. She was 82.
IN POPULAR CULTURE
Welch helped transform America’s feminine ideal into its current state. Her beautiful looks and eroticism made her the definitive 1960s and 1970s sex icon, rather than the blonde bombshell of the late 1950s as typified by Marilyn Monroe, Jayne Mansfield, and others. Welch became a star in the mid-1960s and was exotic, brunette, and smolderingly sexual. Her countless publicity photos helped to popularize her image, dress style, and 1960s and 1970s fashion trends. Welch and other actresses also made big hair popular.
Welch is mentioned in the 1971 song, “One’s on the Way” by country music legend Loretta Lynn. Welch is also mentioned in The Unknown Stuntman, the theme song to The Fall Guy, starring Lee Majors, who also recorded the song. She is also mentioned in the Al Jarreau song “Love Is Real” from the Grammy-winning 1980 “This Time” album, where Jarreau sings “Raquel and Redford are the tops”.
Welch is one of the few actresses, and one of the earliest, who had a lead role in a Western film. Hannie Caulder (1971) was a clear influence on later revenge films. Quentin Tarantino said the film was one of his inspirations for Kill Bill (2003).
In the 1994 film The Shawshank Redemption, the poster that Andy Dufresne had on his prison cell wall at the time of his escape was the famous pinup image of Welch in One Million Years B.C. Prior to Dufresne’s escape being realized, the warden refers to Welch as “Miss Fuzzy Britches”.