Raquel Welch has died at the age of 82. The iconic 1960s sex symbol passed after a struggle with a brief, unknown illness, according to TMZ. Her family confirmed the news to the site on Feb. 15, stating that she had passed away that morning.
Born Jo Raquel Tejada in Chicago on September 5, 1940, the first child of a Bolivian aeronautical engineer and his wife, she was a performer and entertainer from an early age, per her official Wikipedia page. The family moved to Southern California when she was two, and at age seven, the beauty began training in classical ballet — a pursuit she abandoned a decade later when she was told she didn’t have the right build for a professional ballerina.
By her mid-teens, she was already carving out a space for herself as an icon of American beauty. After winning titles for Miss Contour and Miss Photogenic, she went on to grab the titles of Miss La Jolla and Miss San Diego. She studied theater arts at San Diego State College, where she’d won a scholarship, then married James Welch on May 8, 1959. Raquel would go on to have two children with him, Damon Welch and Latanne Welch, but the marriage to James ended with a separation in 1962 and a divorce two years later.
The brunette bombshell later married Patrick Curtis from 1967 to 1972; André Weinfeld from 1980 to 1990, and Richard Palmer from 1999 till their separation in 2003. Along the way, she became a local TV weather reporter in San Diego, then an international superstar, posing for Playboy in 1979 without ever going fully au naturel, appearing in a legendary fuzzy bikini in One Million Years B.C. in 1966, and becoming an unforgettable pinup girl.
Her list of television credits includes Bewitched, Seinfeld, and McHale’s Navy, and her film credits include roles in 100 Rifles, The Three Musketeers (for which the famed beauty won a Golden Globe Award), and The Last of Sheila. Through it all, Raquel said she never meant to become a sex symbol. “I was not brought up to be a sex symbol, nor is it in my nature to be one,” she once said, per Wikipedia. “The fact that I became one is probably the loveliest, most glamorous and fortunate misunderstanding”Click to Subscribe to Get Our Free HollywoodLife Daily Newsletter to get the hottest celeb news.