Raquel Welch, US actress dies at 82

Los Angeles, The Gulf Observer: Actress Raquel Welch died on Wednesday at age 82, and her death following a brief illness was confirmed in a statement released by her Los Angeles-based manager.

Welch first grabbed the public’s attention with her role in the 1966 sci-fi adventure “Fantastic Voyage,” playing a member of a miniaturized medical team injected into the body of an injured diplomat.

Her success in that film was followed by an iconic appearance later the same year in the prehistoric fantasy drama “One Million Years B.C.” depicting cavemen and women coexisting with dinosaurs.

Other screen credits in the late 1960s and early ’70s included starring roles in “Bedazzled,” “Bandolero!” “100 Rifles,” and the title roles in “Myra Breckinridge” and “Hannie Caulder.”

She won a Golden Globe Award for best actress in a musical or comedy for her performance in the 1973 “The Three Musketeers.”

Her portrayal of strong, willful characters was credited with helping break down stereotypes at a time when the changing attitudes toward gender roles converged to empower women on screen, even if their looks remained objectified, Reuters reported.

She played a tough frontier wife out for revenge in “Hannie Caulder,” a Native American revolutionary with a vendetta in “100 Rifles” and a dressmaker to the queen in “The Three Musketeers.”

She was born Jo Raquel Tejada in Chicago. Her father was an aeronautical engineer from Bolivia. Her family moved to California when she was young. She later studied ballet before entering a series of beauty contests.

She briefly earned a living as a model and cocktail waitress before applying for film roles and breaking into the movie business with small 1964 roles in the drama “A House Is Not a Home” and the Elvis Presley musical “Roustabout.”

She went on to a career spanning more than half a century, appearing in more than 30 films and 50 television series, and as an entrepreneur was involved in a successful line of wigs, HairUWear, as well as a collection of jewelry and skin-care products.