She made her way into the pages…


We lost Raquel Welch on Wednesday at the age of 82. As a 1960s and ’70s cinema icon, however, she will live forever.

She was born Jo Raquel Tejada in Chicago in 1940 and made her big screen debut in 1964 in A House Is Not a Home, in which she played a prostitute, and later that year appeared briefly in Roustabout, an Elvis Presley movie. (Incidentally, the “Welch” part of her name came from her marriage to James Welch in 1959.) In 1966, she made a strong impression on audiences as a scientist’s assistant in Fantastic Voyage, thanks in part to a diving outfit that showed off her curves.

However, it was her next film – and one in which she got top billing – that sent her career into the stratosphere. One Million Years B.C. (1966), a remake of the 1940 movie One Million B.C., was a caveman picture that likely would not have aided her career ambitions (she didn’t even appear in it until 28 minutes into the story) if it were not for the wildly popular poster of her from the film. She became the pre-eminent sex symbol of the late ’60s — and beyond.

Welch made all the rounds doing interviews and guest shots on TV variety programs. However, what to do with her movie-wise? Her selection of films following One Million Years B.C. was unmemorable (Fuzz, Fathom) or truly bad (Myra Breckenridge). There were occasional high spots, such as The Three Musketeers and its sequel; Bedazzled; and the surprise guest appearance as a galley slave driver of women rowers in the all-out comedy The Magic Christian, but they were few and far between.

She still had name value, though, and it helped her get a starring role on Broadway as a replacement for star Lauren Bacall in the musical Woman of the Year during Bacall’s two-week vacation in 1981. When Bacall left the show in mid-1982, Welch stepped back in and starred for the next six months. (She returned to Broadway in June 1997 for another musical, this time replacing the departing Julie Andrews in Victor/Victoria.)

Television kept her career going with guest appearances on dramatic and comedy series (including Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman) and starring roles in several made-for-TV movies. In the early 2000s, she could be found in supporting film roles (Legally Blonde and Tortilla Soup, to name two), as well as more TV appearances.

Though she had not been heard from much the last few years, she was still incredibly famous and so her passing was indeed a shock. We say goodbye to Ms. Welch with a collection of 13 images from movies — and from comic-book adaptations of her films.

Roustabout (Paramount, 1964). Elvis Presley with actresses from the tea house opening scene, including Raquel Welch on the far right. (Note: the young woman standing next to her should not be mistaken for Teri Garr, who is in the film but appears later as one of the carnival’s dancers.)

Fantastic Voyage (20th Century Fox, 1966). Publicity photo.

Fantastic Voyage (Gold Key, Feb. 1967). Gold Key’s comic-book adaptation of the movie.

Fantastic Voyage (Gold Key). Back cover of the comic book.

Fantastic Voyage (Gold Key). Inside front cover of the comic-book adaptation.

Fantastic Voyage (Gold Key). Inside back cover of the comic-book adaptation.

Fantastic Voyage (Gold Key). Story page with Paul S. Newman handling the script and Dan Adkins the pencilling. Wallace Wood and Tony Coleman provided inks.

Fantastic Voyage (Gold Key). Another story page.

Mad Magazine #110 (EC, April 1967). “Fantastecch Voyage” satire. Larry Siegel script, Mort Drucker art.

One Million Years B.C. (Hammer, 1966). Raquel Welch’s rocket to international fame!

House of Hammer #14 (General Books, Nov. 1977). Brian Lewis cover art.

House of Hammer #14. Splash page from adaptation of One Million Years B.C. Steve Moore script. John Bolton art.

Woman of the Year. The Broadway musical.


— The 13 RULES OF LOVE — By Your Favorite Superhero Couples. Click here.

— 13 MOVIE POSTERS: A FRANK FRAZETTA Birthday Celebration. Click here.

PETER BOSCH’s first book, American TV Comic Books: 1940s-1980s – From the Small Screen to the Printed Pagehas just been published by TwoMorrows. He has written articles and conducted celebrity interviews for various magazines and newspapers. Peter lives in Hollywood.

Author: Dan Greenfield

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  1. While it was not officially her, I always thought the original depictions of She Hulk were based on Raquel Welch.

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  2. If you think “Fathom” was unmemorable, you need to have your eyes examined! Plenty of memorable images in that film. Also, I’m a little disappointed you didn’t include a photo of Raquel in her red, white, and blue Myra Breckenridge outfit. Sure looks like a super-heroine costume to me.

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  3. 100 Rifles. Enough said.

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