Raquel Welch: Beyond the Bikini
BY LAURIE BROOKINS
Few pieces of clothing have been as integral to launching a career as the bikini was to Raquel Welch. From the instant she arrived on screen in 1966’s One Million Years B.C. (the trailer trumpets “Introducing Raquel Welch as Loana!” not once but twice), clad in a few modest strips of doeskin, the Chicago-born beauty was a bona fide international sex symbol (the poster for the now-cult film remains an all-time best seller). Tidbits you might not realize—her real name is Jo Raquel Tejada, with a Bolivian father of Spanish descent; she took the name Welch from her first husband—are detailed in Beyond the Cleavage (Weinstein Books; $26.95), released earlier this year. And while that famous bikini has long since been put away, Welch, who turned 70 in September, still exhibits every bit of the fierce attitude needed to pull off one of cinema’s sexiest moments.
How does it feel being known as on of Hollywood's greatest sex symbols?
I'm so over all that by now.. Sex symbol? The real life me is alive and kicking on the pages of my book.
Wha are your secrets to maintaining your beauty?
I don't have special secrets beyond what every woman already knows. Just love my life and take care of the body God loaned to me. My body is the shape I live in. It shapes the way I live. It's discipline.
Who are today's exciting new talents?
I'm not blown away by anyone now. I like the old black and white movies; Sinatra, Lena Horne, Elvis and the great rockers of the 60s. Plus Gary Grant, Grace Kelly, Marilyn... Hard to beat that line up.
What do you always keep in your refrigerator?
Egg whites and gluten-free rye bread.
What is your greatest indulgence?
Having a cook.
What does no one knows about Raquel Welch?
I cry at the drop of a hat. Just sentimental I guess. A movie, a keepsake, and old song, bravery of any kind and I tear up.
PHOTOGRAPH BY ANDREW H. WALKER/WIREIMAGE.COM