Reporting Lisa Sigell
LOS ANGELES (CBS) — It was the movie “One Million Years B.C.” or perhaps even more the poster from the film that turned Raquel Welch into an international sex symbol back in 1966.
Now looking back at age 71, she laughs about her big screen dialogue in that role and the impact that famous poster had on her life and on bedroom walls across the world.
“I often joked about the fact that that picture would’ve been a lot funnier if I had one kid on one hip and a stroller on the other, it would’ve changed the effect,” Welch said.
At that time Welch was a single mother of two, juggling instant fame with changing diapers, when Hollywood really came calling.
“The lord was watching over me or something, because otherwise, why? I mean there was no reason for me to be on top of a volcano in that outfit shooting a dinosaur movie and when I come back I’m a star. It’s just nutty,” she said.
Her first bits of wardrobe were not a far stretch from her days growing up.
“I call myself a California girl,” Welch said, who considers San Diego and its beaches her home.
“I figured out how to wear a bikini,” she added.
Welch said she always knew she wanted to be an actress. But before Tinseltown, there was high school cheerleading, pageants, and her first on-screen job, as none other than a weathercaster for our CBS station in San Diego.
“It was fun and you know they paid me a whole $7.50 per show. I was so excited, I got to be on television,” she said.
But Welch had bigger dreams and headed to Hollywood. But finding parts and her voice was not easy.
“I was on the ‘One Million Years B.C.’ [set] and I was kind of bored cause so I went to the director, Don Chaffey, and I really been studying the script, so I said, ‘I’ve been thinking.’ He looked at me and he said, ‘Don’t.’ I really did feel demeaned. Now, when I came back and I saw that silly costume had given me my big break, then I thought, well OK then. It wasn’t my plan, but if it works,” Welch said.
From film to Broadway to television, her dialogue grew with starring roles and a career spanning close to 50 years. She has received a Golden Globe and a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
She is a lover of life and a lover of love.
“What can I say, I’ve been married four times and I still didn’t get it right. I’m learning,” she said jokingly.
Raquel Welch is an actress, spokesperson, businesswomen, sex symbol and a woman who definitely speaks her mind. But she has yet another side. One thing people may not know about Welch is how much she gives back.
Through her line of Raquel Welch Wigs, she has donated $15 million worth of wigs, mainly to cancer patients and those medically affected by hair loss.
It is a cause near and dear to her heart. Her sister Gayle survived a tough battle with ovarian cancer and she knows the toll cancer takes.
“If you have somebody who will donate a wig, you are feeling and looking like your old self and it gives you a morale boost and it’s really, really important,” she said.
Welch herself has no problem showing off her love of wigs.
“No, I don’t. Why would I have a problem? Don’t you see how…” Welch said playing with her hair laughingly.
Welch said to embrace you’re spiritual age instead of your physical one.
As for still being known as a sex symbol, she embraces that too.
“This was not my plan, but if it works,” she said, adding, “I’m thankful for this gift of life. You know, I’m thankful and I appreciate it. If you don’t appreciate what you’ve got, then you’re never ever going to be happy.”