Raquel Welch


  1. Dawn Wells, Gilligan’s Island, TV, 1964-1976.  Awaiting  a film break, Raquel was stuck in lame tele-bits – Stewardess in Bewitched, a saloon gal in The Virginian.  Then the  shipwrecked series (from Phil Silvers’ company) nearly had incendiary leading ladies as Jayne Mansfield and Raquel. Jayne passed on playing Ginger Grant and Reno’s Wells won Mary Ann Summers from Welch’s ifirst proper audition.   Wells got the most fan mail from young boys while the smokin’ Ginger’s Tina Louise had the most  from guys. She lasted 98 episodes, by which time Raquel busted into One Million Years BC, 1966, and was off and running… 
  2. Claudine Auger, Thunderball, 1965.
  3. Linda Harrison,  Planet of the Apes, 1967.
  4. 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! 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 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.

  5. Sharon Tate, The Valley of the Dolls, 1967.
  6. 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, Suzanne Pleshette, 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!”

  7. 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.”

  8. Ann-Margret, Carnal Knowledge, 1971.  When Jules Feiffer sent his new lay to Mike Nichols, the  stage and screen director immediately knew three things. 1. It was a film. 2. For Jack Nicholson. 3. But not his Easy Rider co-star, Karen Black. (They mutuallyagreed she that she didn’t have the right figure). Feiffer didn’t think Jack matched his “young Jewish misogynist.” “Trust me,” said Nichols, “he’s going to be our most important actor since Brando.” That’s when Jules realised he “can write ‘em, but can’t cast ‘em.”  Nichols took his time, seeing Ellen Burstyn, Dyan Cannon, Jane Fonda, Raquel Welch, Natalie Wood – before remembering Ann-Margret in Kitten With A Whip, 1964. Raquel preferred to keep covered because “the mind is an erogenous zone.”
  9. Jill St John, Diamonds Are Forever, 1971.
  10. 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.”

  11. 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.
  12. Karen Black, The Day of the Locust, 1974.         “We might have made a mistake.” UK director John Schlesinger discussed the Faye casting with Leo Verswijver, at FilmTalk.com “The producer who first sent me the thing years before, had said: I think you need an older woman than in the novel. In the novel she’s 17… very difficult to handle with all these kind of attitudes, you know, acting the role of the big star which she tended to do in the story. We also read the script with Raquel Welch – one of the ideas of the casting [director]. She was just too beautiful to play the part. There was something off-beat about Karen Black, wanting to make it, her eyes too close together, things like that.”  
  13. Valerie Perrine, Can’t Stop The Music, 1979.        After the high of Grease, producer Allan Carr hit rock bottom with this nutty biopic of The Village People – minus the group’s Jagger/Lennon, Victor Willis! Still, Samantha was fun – channeling Jane Russell in The French Line. Perfect for Perinne. Not for Jacqueline Bisset, Cher or Olivia Newton-John. Nor Raquel – refused by the suits because of “horror stories” they’d heard about her.
  14. Stephanie Powers, Escape To Athena, 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 I completed my commitments in Paris on L’Animal.  Unfortunately, the producer began releasing and/or leaking other stories to the media.”
  15. 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.”
  16. 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.
  17. 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.
  18. 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.”
  19. 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).

  20. Tanya Roberts, Sheena, Queen of the Jungle 1983. Only took 46 years to make a movie of the female Tarzan, launched in Jumbo Comics  #1 in 1937.   There was a 1955-1956 TV series with the great Irish McCalla, but who should be the big screen heroine? Bo Derek and Raquel Welch made sense – but Jodie Foster?? (Anyway, she couldn’t leave Yale for the seven month shoot, mostly in Kenya). Raquel simply said: Been there, done that, got the animal skin bikini to prove it! (ie One Million Years BC, 1965). Sheena flopped and earned five Razzie nominations for Worst Picture, Director, Actress, etc. Sixteen years later Sheena returned to the tube with Gena Lee Nolin.  But unlike Tanya’s  publicity pix, GLN’s did not reveal pubic hair.
  21. 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…
  22. Glenn Close, Fatal Attraction, 1986.
  23. Kim Basinger, My Stepmother IsAn Alien,1988.      Back when it was called: They’re Coming.
  24. Geena Davis, Thelma & Louise, 1990.
  25. Susan Sarandon, Thelma & Louise, 1990.
  26. Madonna, Evita, 1996.       Raquel’s name came up on the long, long road from Broadway to Hollywood.  Some said she’d make a better Che.



“Raquel Welch was the best advert for for the movies that the movies ever had.” –    Robbie Collin  The Telegraph film critic.

“So sad…  I loved working with her.  She was elegant, professional and glamorous beyond belief. Simply stunning. May all her angels carry her home.” – Her Legally Blonde Reese Witherspoon.

 “She was awesome, kind, funny and a true superstar whom I was pretty much in love with for most of my childhood. We’ve lost a true icon.” – 60s’ co-star  Paul Feig.

TC: I remember sitting in her Elstree dressingroom waiting for Raquel to arrive from the One Million Years BC set. And suddenly, in she strides… in that amazing furkini.  Stunningly beautiful! I was speechless for at least five long minutes. Luckily my then wife, Jeannette Wild, was with me and they started a chat fest… neither one knowing that Jeannette would be in the BC follow-up,  Slave Girls (aka Prehistoric Women)

Cubby Broccoli was so impressed that he wanted Raquel as Domino in Thunderball.  But her studio, the same 20th Century Fox that never knew what to do with Marilyn, refused to release her. We got on so well, that she even forgave me for printing that she’d wed her manager-lover, Patrick Curtis, in Paris.  They did marry later, but not in Paris.







 Birth year: 1940Death year: 2023Other name: Casting Calls:  26