- Dawn Wells, Gilligan’s Island, TV, 1964-1976. Awaitinga film break, the half-Bolivian Raquel was stuck in lame tele-bits -Stewardess in Bewitched, Saloon Gal in The Virginian . She lost her first proper auditionfor the sexy farm girl who lasted 98 episodes, by which time Raquel busted intoOne Million Years BC, 1966, and was off and running...
Claudine Auger, Thunderball, 1965.
- Jean Hale, In Like Flint, 1966.
We have to thank producer Saul David's wife... She noticed Raquel at the Hollywood Deb Stars Ball.He tested her with James Coburn "to see how heshould play Flint: how much comedy, how groovy, how smooth." Welch never thought much of the result. "All rush, rush, rush! I wasn't unhappy but didn't accomplish anything - apart from the fact I was attractive on-screen… which everyone knew by that time. It was a shower scene. There's a strange thing in the industry… If you're doing a shower, bath or bedroom sequence, somehow everybody in town finds out and suddenly in a very obscure little soundstage where nobody ever goes, hordes of people start coming in and all converge behind the shower curtain. Crazy! I had a flesh-coloured bra and panties, they kept wetting me down and I was very embarrassed. All these peoplegawkingatevery dimplein my bottom. Afterwards, Saul David never said Yes or No. So we started negotiating with Cubby Broccoli for Thunderball..."But Fox held on to her for Fantastic Voyage. Raquel’s test was seen in Hollywood Screen Tests: Take 1, 1999.
- Sharon Tate, The Valley of the Dolls, 1967.
- Faye Dunaway, The Thomas Crown Affair, 1967. For the insurance agent investigating Tommy Crown, director Norman Jewison wanted Eva Marie Saint. Too old, screamed the suits. OK, the director drew up a wet-dream wish list: Anouk Aimé, Brigitte Bardot, Candice Bergen, Leslie Caron, Julie Christie, Vanessa Redgrave, Sharon Tate… and his star, Steve McQueen, suggested testing Camilla Sparv. “Yeah, well, I’ve just seen an early print of Bonnie and Clyde… and you’re gonna spend eight hours kissing her!”
- Jane Fonda, Barbarella, 1968.
“Being a sex symbol was rather like being a convict” said the Fox pin-up. “Not everybody is comfortable with my ethnicity. When I first came along in the business, they didn’t really like the idea of my name being Raquel. Yeah. I signed with [Fox)]and almost immediately they wanted me to change my name.‘You’re going to be Debbie Welch.’ “Well, let’s see what happens.’ You either embrace your identity or you let them force you into homogenizing yourself.”
- Ann-Margret, Carnal Knowledge, 1971. Rejected by suave New York stage-screen director Mike Nichols. She preferred to keep covered because "the mind is an erogenous zone."
- Jill St John, Diamonds Are Forever, 1971.
- Louise Lasser,Everything You Always Wanted To Know About Sex * But Were Afraid To Ask, 1971. First, Richard Benjamin and wife Paula Prentisspassed on being the couple in the thirdstanza called Why Do Some Women Have Trouble Reaching an Orgasm? Next, Raquel and John Cassavetesturned the othercheek. Woody shot it as an homage to Michelangelo Antonioni and selected the second Mrs Woody (1966-1970) forthewoman who can only reach orgasm in public. The best-selling author, Dr David Reuben (150m copies sold in 52 countries) hated the movie,but then Woody’s parody of the sex manual was his revenge on Reuben for stealing oneof his Take The Money And Run jokes on TV. Johnny Carson: “Is sex dirty?”Reuben: “It is if you’re doing it right.”
- Valerine Perrine, Lenny, 1974. She passed on Honey Bruce, feeling she could not play Lenny's stripper wife.Not even with Bob Fosse to help her? He assisted Valerie to an Oscar nomination.
- Stephanie Powers,Escape ToAthena,1979. The legend: she wanted top billing over Roger Moore. The truth: "I'd like to state for the record that I, indeed, received a firm offer... I wanted tok now more, including seeing a final script, meeting the director and I'd not makea decision until Icompleted my commitments in Paris on L'Animal. Unfortunately, the producer began releasing and/or leaking other stories to the media."
- Jessica Lange, The Postman Always Rings Twice, 1981. Jack Nicholson was keen on a modern version under director Hal Ashby in 1972 until MGM studio chief James Aubrey (The Smiling Cobra) thumbed down Jack's lover, Michelle Phillips - and imposed his own. And why was Raquel willing to go heavy after backing away from such hard stuff as Carnal Knowledge and Lenny? Because of director Richard Lester.Choosing her as the disaster-prone seamstress Constance de Bonacieux in The Three Musketeers, 1973, was “a stroke of genius,” she wrote in a thank you letter,as she was normally “everyone’s favourite sado-maso-queen” or “wind-up Barbie doll.” She added: “As a result I’ve been enjoying a tremendous new found success as an actress and comedienne.”
- Debra Winger, Cannery Row, 1981. Original casting ofPaul Newman-Welch became Nick Nolte-Winger and heavy litigation. Raquel had agreed to her topless debut. She wasfired - "properly," said MGM, for applying her make-up at home, not atthe studio.This madeher the scapegoat for the Metro flop, labelledher difficult andruinedhercareer,said Welch's lawyer when she sued MGM and won $10.8m- upheld in 1986 when the studio's appealagainstthe"outrageous,excessive, hysterical" damages and was finally thrown out.
- Joan Collins Dynasty, TV, 1981-1989. Legendary producer Aaron Spelling aimed high. Too high. Liz Taylor refused. So did Sophia Loren and Raquel. Allowing Joanie to turn Alexis Morell Carrington Colby Dexter Rowan into, at her suggestion, a female version of JR Ewing, the Dallas villain the world loved to hate. And, thereby, one of US TV’s most memorable bitches.
Sandahl Bergman, Conan The Barbarian, 1982. Valeria, Queen of Thieves, was based on one Frank Herbert character and named after another. Writer-director John Milius saw manysensual girls but wanteda dame! And surprisingly passed on Raquel when fellow director Bob Fosse recommended dancer Sandahl from his All That Jazz."She was," said Milius, "the only woman who looks right holding a sword.You can believe she could cut Arnold Schwarzenegger inhalf."
- Jane Birkin, Circulez, y'a rien à voir, France, 1982.
Wanted: a femme fatale. Everyone thought of Raquel as she was already shooting in Paris - for the same producer Christian Fechner - and, ironically (insanely), playing Birkin’s stunt double! But L’Animal, opposite the #1 French star, Jean-Paul Belmondo, was more important than a trite French comedy. . In a kind e-mail - entitled Casting Waltzes - auteur Patrice Leconte told me he had decided to mix oil and vinegar, “the old comedic formula of two totally incompatible characters.” Michel Blanc and Catherine Deneuve, for example. “No thanks,” she said “ And then, Fechner eventually thought: “Why not Jane…?” She was eight months pregnant when Leconte called her - they started the film, three weeks after the birth of her thired daughter, , future actor-director Lou Doillon. “So we moved on to Jane Birkin, whom I really like, but who was not the character. The situation asked for an out of reach lady. Jane is the girl next door, very friendly. She calls you tu the minute she meets you. By no means should she be held responsible for this flop.” “Never mind,” she told him. “I’ve made worse!” (So has he).
- Ali MacGraw, Dynasty, TV, 1984-1985. Aaron Spelling never gave up. He called Raquel again - this time to be Lady Ashley Marshall, fancying Blake Carrington and helping him fight ex-wife Alexis for Chinese oil leases. Oh, you hadda be there…
- Glenn Close, Fatal Attraction, 1986.
- Kim Basinger, My Stepmother IsAn Alien,1988.Back when it was called: They're Coming.
- Geena Davis, Thelma & Louise, 1990.
- Susan Sarandon, Thelma & Louise, 1990.
- Madonna, Evita, 1996. Raquel's name came up on the long, long road from Broadway to Hollywood.Somesaid she'd make a better Che.