Fantastic Voyage Actress Raquel Welch Is Dead At 82

Raquel Welch in mid-conversation in Fantastic Voyage.
(Image credit: 20th Century Studios)

The life and times of Raquel Welch saw her legacy build into that of a well-known talent known equally for her beauty and her timing. In a career that spanned genres and projects, variety helped Ms. Welch become a star through sci-fi movies like Fantastic Voyage, as well as many others that filled her resume. Today we honor those contributions in a bittersweet fashion, as Raquel Welch is reported as dead at the age of 82.

Per an announcement from family members of Ms. Welch (via TMZ), her passing was confirmed after “a brief illness.” The iconic actor who made a name for herself through roles in One Million B.C., as well as the original Dudley Moore/Peter Cook version of Bedazzled, Raquel Welch truly ran the table when it came to the projects she tackled. 

Notable Films Of Raquel Welch, And Where To Watch Them

A well-dressed Raquel Welch takes the stand in Legally Blonde.

(Image credit: MGM)

Fantastic Voyage (1966) - streaming with an HBO Max subscription.
Bedazzled (1967) -
streaming through DirecTV or TCM.
The Last of Sheila (1973) -
available to rent/own through major digital retailers.
Legally Blonde (2001) -
streaming through Tubi, free with ads.

Born in 1940 as Jo Raquel Tejada, the Illinois native started in small roles through projects like the 1964 Elvis Presley film Roustabout and TV shows such as Bewitched and McHale’s Navy. 1965 would lead to her first standout role in A Swingin’ Summer, to which Raquel Welch would also contribute the song “I’m Ready to Groove.” 1966 would be the year she’s truly break out, thanks to Fantastic Voyage and One Million B.C. both landing that same year. 

Of course, part of the career that Raquel Welch experience was that of a Hollywood sex symbol. That came partially thanks to her appearance in director Don Chaffey's prehistoric movie classic, which saw Welch sporting a revealing loincloth costume that would become memorable in more ways than one. 

The image was a contemporary hit, but would also come back into the pop culture consciousness through appearing as the poster that concealed Andy Dufresne’s means of escape in Frank Darabont’s film adaptation of The Shawshank Redemption. Though the usage of Welch’s likeness became a bit of a plot hole, it found new life as a fond memory of a well beloved classic.

Welch wasn’t above acknowledging that part of her image, as she even titled her 2010 memoir Raquel: Beyond the Cleavage. Throughout her more modern output, Raquel Welch made guest appearances on everything from Sabrina the Teenage Witch to crime procedurals like CSI: Miami. Her final credited appearances were in the 2017 Eugenio Derbez film How to Be a Latin Lover, as well as the dramedy series Date My Dad, which aired for one season in that same year.

A multi-talented woman who knew how to draw a crowd, Raquel Welch's life and times will always be remembered through how she shaped the world of entertainment. We here at CinemaBlend send our deepest condolences to the family and friends of Ms. Welch as they navigate this time of grief and remembrance.

Mike Reyes
Senior Movies Contributor

Mike Reyes is the Senior Movie Contributor at CinemaBlend, though that title’s more of a guideline really. Passionate about entertainment since grade school, the movies have always held a special place in his life, which explains his current occupation. Mike graduated from Drew University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science, but swore off of running for public office a long time ago. Mike's expertise ranges from James Bond to everything Alita, making for a brilliantly eclectic resume. He fights for the user.