Fantastic Voyage actress Raquel Welch dies aged 82

Fantastic Voyage star Raquel Welch has died at the age of 82, her manager and family have confirmed.

The American actress and model rose to fame after starring in Fantastic Voyage and One Million Years BC back-to-back in 1966, despite only having a small number of lines in the latter.

Welch died following a brief illness early on Wednesday, her manager said, in a statement shared with the PA news agency.

“Raquel Welch, the legendary bombshell actress of film, television and stage, passed away peacefully early this morning after a brief illness,” the statement read.

Raquel Welch

Raquel Welch leaves London for her Hollywood home after spending time in England filming One Million Years B.C. in the 1960s (PA)

“The 82 year-old actress burst into Hollywood in her initial roles in One Million Years BC and Fantastic Voyage.

“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.”

Despite only having a few lines of dialogue as Loana in One Million Years BC, Welch caught the attention of viewers after donning her now-infamous deer skin bikini.

Welch was born Jo Raquel Tejada in Chicago to Bolivian father Armando Carlos Tejada Urquizo and American mother Josephine Sarah.

She had two siblings, a brother James and sister Gayle and was raised as a Presbyterian.

She took the name of her first husband, James Welch, who she married in 1959.

Welch began her career as a weather presenter a local San Diego television station, before moving to Texas, where she modelled for department store Neiman Marcus and worked as a cocktail waitress.

Welch’s acting career first began to take off after she secured two small cameo roles in A House Is Not a Home and the musical Roustabout, starring Elvis Presley, both of which were released in 1964.

Welch went on to star in a number of other movies throughout the 1960s and 1970s, and in 1974 scooped the Golden Globe award for best actress in a musical or comedy for her role as Constance de Bonacieux in The Three Musketeers.

She was later nominated for a second time for her performance in 1987 film Right To Die.

Welch’s other on-screen credits include portraying Kit Forrest, the love interest of Tony Rome – played by Frank Sinatra – in Lady In Cement, and the eponymous Myra Breckenridge in the 1970 film following the escapades of a transgender woman.

As a result of her bikini-clad success on screen, Welch became a sex symbol, gracing the cover of Playboy magazine in 1979.

Welch also has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, which she was awarded in 1996.

The Hollywood Walk of Fame confirmed flowers will be laid on Welch’s star following the news of her death.

Later in life, Welch branched out into creating a line of wigs with the Raquel Welch Wig Collection. Of her wig designs, Welch said: “My mantra: Make it nothing but the best. Then make it better.”

Welch also partnered with cosmetics company MAC in 2007, releasing a make-up collection as one of its “beauty icons”.

Following her divorce from her first husband in 1964, Welch went on to marry a further three times.

She leaves behind her two children, son Damon Welch and her daughter, Latanne “Tahnee” Welch, who is also an actress.

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