Raquel Welch, Actress And Legendary Sex Symbol, Has Died

Raquel Welch, one of the most iconic sex symbols of the 20th century, passed away at 82.

By Britta DeVore | Updated

Raquel Welch in Fantastic Voyage

News broke yesterday that one of Hollywood’s most recognizable icons, Raquel Welch, had passed away at 82. Raking in a slew of credits from her time on the big screen, Deadline reports that tributes from fellow performers, including Reese Witherspoon and Viola Davis are pouring in, with each entertainer sharing their condolences and memories of the famed star. Welch’s death announcement comes following the actress’s short battle with an unspecified illness.

After appearing in small roles on iconic television shows like McHale’s Navy and Bewitched, Raquel Welch would land her career-changing role in the legendary 1966 sci-fi flick Fantastic Voyage. Featuring an all-star cast that included Hollywood bigwigs like Donald Pleasance, Arthur Kennedy, Stephen Boyd, and Edmund O’Brien, the fan-favorite Richard Fleischer (Red Sonja) directed feature would be a cinematic marvel with special effects that were mind-boggling for the time. The effects were so well received that the film would take home Academy Awards for visual effects and Art Direction/Set Decoration. 

Raquel Welch
Raquel Welch in Myra Breckinridge

Raquel Welch would go on to star in titles including One Million Years B.C., Bedazzled, Bandolero!, and Myra Breckinridge, which saw her rubbing elbows and starring opposite award-winning names like Dudley Moore, Peter Cook, James Stewart, Dean Martin, George Kennedy, Mae West, John Huston, and Farrah Fawcett. Continuing to push her career’s upwards trajectory, the actress would appear opposite Burt Reynolds in Fuzz, as well as Richard Burton in Bluebeard. In 1973, she landed a role in The Three Musketeers, which would nab her a Golden Globe Award for Best Actress in a Comedy or Musical and land the film a sequel titled The Four Musketeers: Milady’s Revenge

Following a court case with MGM, which she won, Raquel Welch’s film career took a bit of a dip, leading her to seek out more small-screen jobs. She starred in 1980s hits like NBC’s The Legend of Walks Far Woman and Right to Die. She also appeared in a few episodes of the fan-favorite series Seinfeld, including a featured role in the penultimate season finale.

Other televised performances of Raquel Welch’s in the 1990s and into the early 2000s would include stints on Sabrina the Teenage Witch, Spin City, 8 Simple Rules, and Lois & Clark – just to name a few. In 2001, her path would cross with Reese Witherspoon in Legally Blonde, where she appeared in the role of Mrs. Windham-Vandermark. Of her time on set with the star, Witherspoon said that she “loved working with her on Legally Blonde,” adding that Welch was “elegant, professional and glamorous beyond belief.”

A natural talent for hosting, Raquel Welch stole the hearts of audiences across the country and around the globe when she appeared on a slew of talk shows throughout her career, including The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, Late Show with David Letterman, and The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson. Ringing in the then-new series Saturday Night Live, Welch hosted the now legendary weekly sketch show during its premiere season in 1976 and would present at several award shows, including the Academy Awards and the Tonys. 

With a career spanning over five decades, and credits in 30 films as well as an astonishing amount of TV shows, Raquel Welch will be sorely missed from the cinemas and living rooms of America. She is survived by her son, Damon Welch, and her daughter, Tahnee Welch. We’re wishing her family and friends peace and condolences during this difficult time.