Golden Globe-winning actress and longtime sex icon Raquel Welch has passed away. She was 82.
Welch “passed away peacefully early this morning after a brief illness,” her manager Steve Sauer told PEOPLE on Wednesday. Sauer added –
“Her career spanned over 50 years starring in over 30 films and 50 television series and appearances. The Golden Globe winner, in more recent years, was involved in a very successful line of wigs. Raquel leaves behind her two children, son Damon Welch and her daughter Tahnee Welch.”
The news was first reported by TMZ. Welch started acting in movies in the middle of the 1960s. Her first big roles were in Fantastic Voyage and One Million Years B.C., both of which came out in 1966.
She went on to be in a lot of movies, like The Three Musketeers in 1973, which won her a Golden Globe for best actress in a comedy or musical.
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She has also acted in 100 Rifles, The Prince and the Pauper, Chairman of the Board, Legally Blonde, and many other movies. How to Be a Latin Lover, which came out in 2017, was her last movie role. She also did a memorable version of “I’m a Woman” with Cher on The Cher Show in 1975.
After showing off her curves in the camp classic One Million Years B.C. from 1966, Welch became a pin-up. But behind all the glitz, the star, who was born Jo Raquel Tejada, was a hardworking single mom. After her first marriage ended in 1964, she worked as a sex bomb to help raise her two children.
The actress, whose book Beyond the Cleavage became a bestseller, previously told PEOPLE as she celebrated her 70th birthday in 2010 –
“I never thought life was going to give me something for nothing.”
Welch was born in Chicago to a Bolivian-born engineer and an American wife. She said at the time –
“By age 7, I knew I wanted to be an actress.”
“My parents enrolled me in a theatre 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!”