These Vintage Photos Offer A Rare Glimpse Into Raquel Welch’s Life

Iconic American actress Raquel Welch might be best-remembered for that skimpy fur bikini she wore on the big screen and thousands of movie posters around the world, but there’s much more to the star than that one photo.

To this day, Welch is included in lists such as Empire magazine’s “100 Sexiest Stars in Film History” and Men’s Health magazine’s “Hottest Women of All Time.” But Welch broke the “sex symbol” stereotype when she opted for strong roles that empowered women, and she’s just as talented as she is beautiful.

She Was Born Jo Raquel Tejada

Portrait of Raquel Welch
Herbert Dorfman/Corbis via Getty Images
Herbert Dorfman/Corbis via Getty Images

On September 5, 1940, Raquel Welch was born Jo Raquel Tejada in Chicago, Illinois. Her mother was an Irish-American named Josephine Sarah, while her father was a Bolivian aeronautical engineer named Armando Tejada Urquizo.

She’s later said that studio executives wanted her to change her first name to “Debbie” because they thought “Raquel” would be too difficult to pronounce. Raquel refused, wanting to honor her heritage and the name her parents had chosen for her.