Raquel Welch starred in “One Million Years B. C.”
(Thanks to Raquel Welch)
Raquel Welch would not have guessed in a million years that a film about cavemen living with dinosaurs would have made her one of the most iconic sex symbols in American cinema.
For starters, the actress had zero interest in taking on the role of “Loana the Fair”, who was dressed in a “prehistoric” doeskin bikini in the 1966 cult classic “One Million Years B. C.,” a remake of the 1940 film.
“I told (Fox studio head Dick Zanuck I didn’t think I was going to do it, because it was a dinosaur movie and I didn’t want to be caught dead in a dinosaur movie,” Welch told Fox News. “And he was not sympathetic.
“He said,” No, you’re going to do it Raquel. And listen Raqui, you are going to be a big star!’ I said, ” What? What am I even going to wear? What happened in dinosaur time?… He said: ‘Do not worry, she will manage something.’ And they sure did.”
Reluctantly, the then-26-year-old, who had already worked alongside her teenage idol Elvis Presley in 1964’s “Roustabout,” agreed the role. Welch was sent far away from Hollywood, in particular the volcanic Canary Islands.
“We were so far from civilization,” the now 77-year-old recalled. “I mean, there was a hotel at the bottom of the volcano, in the vicinity of the sea. And I was on top. And it was snowing!”
Welch, who was filmed wearing the tight costume during severe weather conditions, developed tonsillitis on the set that she insisted was still worse with the time.
“I had so much penicillin when I was wearing the fur bikini that I almost died,” she claimed. “… I had to rush, turn my car around and go right back to the doctor’s office, just up the stairs, jump in the elevator and all that.
“And I barely got there. They had to shoot me with an antidote. Otherwise, I would have died. It was a really rough shoot, man. Really rough. And then I came to London, and everyone knew who I was.”
Welch was shocked by the new found fame after starring in “One Million Years B. C.”
“I don’t have much to do in this film except around in this outfit!”, she said.
Despite its popularity, Welch was determined not to be typecast. She went on to work with some of the most in-demand leading men, including Frank Sinatra, Robert Wagner, James Stewart, Dean Martin and Burt Reynolds.
“I was trying very hard to open my capabilities as an actress, rather than just a kind of sex symbol,” said Welch. “I tried very hard to do that and it was really difficult. It was very difficult to make that transition. But eventually I did.”
And Welch not only let roles come her way. They travelled to Rome, Germany and France aim to make more films abroad.
(Thanks to Raquel Welch)
She eventually earned a Golden Globe award for Best Actress in a Comedy after starring in 1973’s “The Three Musketeers.” She revealed it was one of her proudest moments in her career.
“Each [film] contributed to my [transition],” she explained. “I played a lot of action figures, such as in Westerns… I was wearing a gun, I was a very formidable woman who can cope with themselves, who could ride and shoot… I also showed myself in a lot of different periods of time… I worked in Spain for a lot of the Westerns, that is where most of the American Westerns were filmed.”
As for that famous fur bikini? It is still around.
“We had a number of doubles, because when wet you couldn’t wear it the right way again,” she said. “There is nothing what really happened. I have the ones that were remaining, the back-ups.”
Welch continues to stay busy. Most recently she appeared in a sitcom with the title “My Father”, where she reunited with Wagner on the screen.
“I have no real regrets, and I am not a bitter person,” Welch said of her career. “I enjoy what I do. I chose it because I had always wanted to do from the time I was a little girl.
“When I was about 7, I made up my mind I was going to be a performer, I was going to be in the movies, I was going to sing and I was going to dance. I was going to have all those things and that’s what I did.”
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