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Actress Raquel Welch dies at 82

Welch's career spanned more than five decades, having starred in dozens of films.

WASHINGTON — Raquel Welch, an actress known for her roles in "One Million Years B.C," "Fantastic Voyage," and "Three Musketeers" has died. She was 82. 

The award-winning actress "passed away peacefully this morning after a brief illness," Welch's manager confirmed to People on Wednesday. 

TMZ first reported the star's death. 

The 82-year-old had breakout roles in the 1966 sci-films "Fantastic Voyage" and "One Million Years B.C." Welch had only three speaking lines in the prehistoric fantasy film, but it was her skimpy deerskin bikini that cemented her place as an international sex symbol.

"I just thought it was a goofy dinosaur epic we'd be able to sweep under the carpet one day," she told The Associated Press in 1981. "Wrong. It turned out that I was the Bo Derek of the season, the lady in the loin cloth about whom everyone said, 'My God, what a bod' and they expected to disappear overnight."

Her curves and beauty captured pop culture attention, with Playboy crowning her the "most desired woman" of the '70s, despite never being completely naked in the magazine. In 2013, she graced the No. 2 spot on Men's Health's “Hottest Women of All Time” list. In the film “The Shawshank Redemption,” a poster of Welch is used to cover an escape tunnel, the last of three women he used images of after Rita Hayworth and Marilyn Monroe.  

Welch went on to star in dozens of other movies including "The Three Musketeers," which she won a Golden Globe for. She also appeared in "The Prince and the Pauper," "Legally Blonde" and many more.  

The actress' last film was in the 2017 comedy "How to Be a Latin Lover," starring alongside Salma Hayek, Eugenio Derbez and Rob Lowe.

Welch was born Jo-Raquel Tejada in Chicago and raised in La Jolla, California. (The Jo in her name was from her mother, Josephine).

Years before her big break, Welch worked as a morning weatherwoman for CBS 8 San Diego. The former Miss La Jolla returned to the station in 2010 and joked her salary at the time was $7.50. 

"It was great because it opened up some doors for me, it was an opportunity to be seen by a lot of people," Welch explained in 2010. 

Welch was a divorced mother when she met ex-actor turned press agent, Patrick Curtis.
“The irony of it all is that even though people thought of me as a sex symbol, in reality I was a single mother of two small children!” she wrote in her autobiography, “Raquel: Beyond the Cleavage.”

Curtis became her manager and second husband and helped shape her into a glamor-girl with hundreds of magazine covers and a string of movies, plus exercise videos and books like "The Raquel Welch Total Beauty and Fitness Program."

Married and divorced four times, she is survived by two children, Damon Welch and Tahnee Welch, who also became an actress, including landing a featured role in 1985’s “Cocoon.”

Credit: Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP
Raquel Welch attends The Hollywood Reporter's Women in Entertainment Breakfast at Milk Studios on Dec. 9, 2015 in Los Angeles. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)

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