Golden Globe winner Raquel Welch died Wednesday morning following a short illness.
Acting Was Welch’s Destiny
Welch “passed away peacefully early this morning after a brief illness,” her manager Steve Sauer confirmed to PEOPLE on Wednesday. Details surrounding her illness are unknown.
Born in Chicago to a Bolivian-born engineer and his American wife, “By age 7 I knew I wanted to be an actress,” Welch said at the time.
She continued, “My parents enrolled me in a theater program. You could get away from some of the painfulness of real life. I always had flights of fancy.”
Crediting her resilience to her mom, Josephine, she added at the time, “I’ve had a great life — and it’s not over yet!”
Long and Successful Career
The actress, with more than 70 film and television credits, got her start as a spokesmodel on a variety show, “Hollywood Palace,” and had a small role in the Elvis Presley film “Roustabout” in 1964.
Welch’s career in TV and film spanned decades. A number of starring roles for Welch followed in the late 1960s, including the westerns “Bandolero!” and “100 Rifles,” the latter notable for her then-controversial interracial love scene with former football star Jim Brown.
Welch became a pin-up after flaunting her curves in 1966’s camp classic One Million Years B.C. But behind the glamour, the star (born Jo Raquel Tejada) was a hardworking single mom whose career as a sex bomb helped her raise two kids after splitting from her first husband in 1964.
The Chicago-born actress went on to star as Constance de Bonacieux in the 1973 movie “The Three Musketeers.” Welch won a best actress Golden Globe award for her performance and reprised her role as de Bonacieux in the 1974 sequel “The Four Musketeers: Milady’s Revenge.”
After guesting on “Mork and Mindy” in 1979, Welch appeared in a series of TV movies during the 1980s, a couple of which brought her critical acclaim.
Most recently, Welch appeared in a pair of TV movies, Lifetime’s “House of Versace” in 2013 and the Hallmark Channel’s “The Ultimate Legacy” in 2015.
Welch’s memoir “Raquel: Beyond the Cleavage” was published in 2010.
Welch was married four times, the first to publicist and agent James Welch, her high school sweetheart, from 1959-64; the second to director-producer Patrick Curtis from 1967-72; the third to producer, director and journalist André Weinfeld from 1980-90; and the fourth to Richard Palmer.
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