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Whatever Happened to Raquel Welch? Celebrate Her Life and Career — 80 Years and Going Strong!

There’s no denying that the greatest Hollywood sex symbol of the 1960s was Raquel Welch, who pretty much exploded in popularity at the time in movies like One Million, B.C. (she wore a fur bikini!) and the British spy comedy Fathom (featured in various stages of near-undress). In the process, she did away with the image of the blonde bombshell that had dominated the 1950s — Marilyn Monroe, Jane Mansfield, for example — and ushered in a whole new kind of sexy that had a major impact on moviegoers, celebrity gawkers and studio heads desperate to get her on the big screen. Well, as impossible as it seems, Raquel has just celebrated her 80th birthday and for those who are wondering, she’s doing great.

And, as she’s made clear over the years, she for one never did buy into the whole sex symbol thing, despite what she put out there.  “Being a sex symbol was rather like being a convict. That I was locked in this image and couldn’t get out,” she’s shared with the media. “My family was very conservative and I had a traditional upbringing. I was not brought up to be a sex symbol, nor is it in my nature to be one. The whole ‘sex symbol’ thing is part of what I do as an actress. It’s a kind of character I play. It’s part of me, but not the whole me.”

Pierluigi Praturlon/Shutterstock

She was even more candid in a 2001 interview with Cigar Aficionado, admitting, “I think I was always more intimidated by my image than anyone else. I mean, there’s a tremendous loss of self, because you really are in a job where this image has been created. You get tired, you wake up ugly, you don’t always have anything new to say to people and you feel like a lemon that’s had all the juice squeezed out of it.”

Certainly not the loveliest of analogies, but it’s how she felt — particularly when all of it was first happening, because the fear was that she would be found out to be “a fake.”

“Like everyone is going to think, ‘Well, why did we think she was so great?” stated Raquel. “It’s human nature to pick people apart and you just can’t stand that you’re under all this scrutiny. And yet at the same time, you’re saying, ‘I’m the luckiest person in the world, because I’ve got this chance that everybody dreams of having.’ It’s really bittersweet.”

For much more on Raquel Welch’s life, including a look back at her film career, please scroll down.