More a sex goddess than an actress, the statuesque Raquel Welch was one of the most popular celebrities of the s and s. While she appeared in dozens of films, they earned little notice, her success depending almost exclusively on her stature as a buxom pin-up. Born Raquel Tejada on September 5, , in Chicago, she began taking dancing lessons as a child and by her teens was already winning beauty contests. At the age of 18, she married high school sweetheart James Welch; the couple had two children before divorcing in After working in Dallas, TX, as a waitress and model, Welch relocated to Hollywood in ; within three days, she had already landed a manager, Patrick Curtis, and soon they formed a promotions company, Curtwell Enterprises. After appearing in Life magazine in a revealing bikini, she began working on the ABC series Hollywood Palace, and in made her feature debut with an unbilled appearance in the Elvis Presley vehicle Roustabout.
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She first won attention for her role in Fantastic Voyage , after which she won a contract with 20th Century Fox. She had only three lines in the film, yet images of her in the doe-skin bikini which she wore became best-selling posters that turned her into a celebrity sex symbol. She later starred in notable films including Bedazzled , Bandolero! She made several television variety specials. In late , she became a spokeswoman for Foster Grant's reading glasses campaign, created by Ferrara and Company.
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How rich is Raquel Welch? Raquel is of Bolivian and English ancestry, with her father originally from Bolivia, working in the US as an aeronautical engineer during her youth. She grew up with a younger brother and a younger sister. After a few years, the family moved to San Diego, California and she discovered her interest in performing there. At 14 years of age she began competing in beauty pageants, winning a few.