Racquel Welch

Pencil Portrait by Antonio Bosano.

Racquel Welch Pencil Portrait
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Last update: 28/6/16

“Lies, damned lies, and statistics” is a phrase describing the persuasive power of numbers, particularly the use of statistics to bolster weak arguments. It is also sometimes colloquially used to doubt statistics used to prove an opponent’s point.

Certain statistics however, do not lie, like Racquel Welch in her prime – all 37-22-35 of her. Inevitably typecast, when the Hollywood actress and sex symbol appeared singing and dancing in two Tv specials “Racquel” (1970), and “Really Racquel” (1974), red blooded males awoke from their visual slumber. It was obvious that there was more to her than met the eye.

Today, she is a successful businesswoman, with a best selling line in wigs and health and fitness DVDs, in addition to her duties as a spokesperson for Foster Grant eyewear. At 74, she also remains anything but your average looking grandmother!

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She’s been a diva in her time. Cliff Goodwin’s biography of Oliver Reed “Evil Spirits,” recounts the tale of Welch ‘on-set’ during the making of “The Three Muskateers.” Hell bent on using her then current beau to design her outfits, the producers were having none of it. Matters would deteriorate further when Ollie – ever keen to milk some fun from the interminable delays – organised several drinking bouts amongst the cast members, without issuing a formal handwritten invite to Miss Welch. Suitably piqued, the actress – according to Reed’s press agent brother Simon – ceased henceforth, from bombarding the actor with telephone calls. “My brother was with Jacquie at the time, and I think he was trying to behave himself. Which didn’t help Racquel’s cause. He was probably the only man on the Muskateer set who wasn’t interested in climbing into Racquel’s knickers.”

Ollie may have been the only man on that particular movie, but he wasn’t the first male to rebuff her advances, and it is in connection with this earlier event that I must take particular issue with the actress.

At a New York film retrospective in 2012, Welch, who starred alongside Stephen Boyd in Fantastic Voyage,’ said the actor, who played Messala in Ben-Hur,’ made hints about his sexuality after she became enamoured with him. Boyd, who died of a heart attack in 1977 aged 45, never came out as gay and was married to his secretary at the time of his death.

“He was so hot with his cleft chin, and he was so not interested in me. I tried to seduce him one time. I was so smitten with him, and I was so excited every time I would come on the set (that) I would see Stephen, and think, ‘Oh God, he’s so cute.’ He had what sounded like a Welsh brogue that was so charming.”

“For my first trip to New York, when we opened the movie, we were both staying at the Plaza Hotel, so I thought, ‘Here’s my chance!’ So Darryl Zanuck took us all out to dinner at 21 and on the way back to the hotel we shared a cab. I said to him as we were going up in the lift, ‘So Stephen, would you like to come in for a drink?’

“We got out of the lift and he walked me to my room and he said, ‘I’d like to tell you a little story that was told to me by John Gielgud when I was working with the National Theatre. You’ll have to think about it for a moment but I hope you get my drift: An actress is a little bit more than a woman, but an actor is a little bit less than a man.’

“I thought, ‘Oh! He’s not interested in me; I am the wrong sex!’

“Honestly, he was such a love and he’s not here anymore. Of course I’m sure a lot of people in the National Theatre knew!”

So what’s my problem with all this? Homophobia? Not really – Boyd’s sexuality, whether hetero, bi or homo – was incidental to his acting prowess, and frankly, none of our business. My problem is accuracy, or rather the lack of it. The poor man died tragically young, and there are still relatives of his who will stumble across this interview. Analysing why Boyd might have rejected Welch’s advances – without the need to consider his sexual orientation – is easy.

Firstly, there is evidence to suggest that he was very content – dare I say the word ‘happy’? – in his relationship with Elizabeth Mills, his personal secretary who had followed him to the States in the late 50’s. They would ultimately marry just before his death.

Secondly, he had long eschewed the Hollywood way of life, preferring to settle well away from tinseltown. Miss Welch, with her career aspirations, would have been attracting the very papparazzi he was focused on avoiding.

Thirdly – and let’s accept that it takes all types to make this world – he may not have been attracted to her in his capacity as a heterosexual man.

Fourthly, he may have recognised her as a pampared and fawned upon individual, who would have taken rejection extremely badly. Hinting at one’s own homosexuality is a proven way of avoiding unpleasant exchanges.

Fifthly – Miss Welch may be guilty of ‘selective memory.’ Whilst extremely attractive women may become almost blasé about the effect they have on men, woe betide any man that does not fall conveniently into this group, especially if the fairer sex has made the running. The female memory runs long and deep, particularly where any sense of personal aggrievement is concerned. Dear Racquel, at the age of 72 when she made these comments, could have simply recalled Boyd with personal affection, and profesesional respect. It is difficult to see why she would even have wished to publicly recall this personal rejection, unless to somehow unburden her resentment. One might also suggest that the actor did in fact, succumb to her charms, but was unwilling to take the relationship further.

Ultimately, none of this matters, except that one might expect a septuagenarian to think rather more carefully about making such public statements, particularly where the feelings of others related to a deceased person, are concerned. The Stephen Boyd blog would also appear to share my views, which was gratifying to discover quite some time after I original wrote this commentary.


Still – and this I cannot deny – when she IS thinking, Miss Welch can hit a raw nerve with some profound thoughts. In 2012, she might not have been the first crusader against pornography to speak out publicly about the subject, but she wasted little time telling ‘Men’s Health’ Magazine in an interview posted online, that today’s sex-saturated culture had sapped the meaning out of sex, and damaged countless men through the pornography industry, which she called “an exploitation of the poor male’s libidos.”

“It’s just dehumanizing. And I have to honestly say, I think this era of porn is at least partially responsible for it,” Welch said of rampant sexual addiction. “Where is the anticipation and the personalisation? It’s all pre-fab now. You have these images coming at you unannounced and unsolicited. It just gets to be so plastic and phony to me.

“Maybe men respond to that. But is it really better than an experience with a real life girl that he cares about? It’s an exploitation of the poor male’s libidos. Poor babies, they can’t control themselves.”

Welch criticized men’s modern habit of “equating happiness in life with as many orgasms as you can possibly pack in,” and described the concomitant loss of real masculinity in vivid terms.

“I just imagine them sitting in front of their computers, completely annihilated. They haven’t done anything, they don’t have a job, they barely have ambition anymore,” said the 71-year-old actress. “And it makes for laziness and a not very good sex partner. Do they know how to negotiate something that isn’t pre-fab and injected directly into their brain?”

When Eric Spitznagel of Men’s Health interjected that Welch’s views could come across as “prudish,” the aging sex icon said she was “fine with that” and pined for the days when bedroom fantasy was a private matter.

“Can you imagine? My fantasies were all made up on my own,” she said. “They’re ruining us with all the explanations and the graphicness. Nobody remembers what it’s like to be left to form your own ideas about what’s erotic and sexual. We’re not allowed any individuality. I thought that was the fun of the whole thing. It’s my fantasy. I didn’t pick it off the Internet somewhere.”

This wasn’t the first time Welch had been critical of the culture that helped fuel her lengthy career: in a 2010 column for CNN, she lamented the effects of contraception on society, particularly its enervating effect on marriage, the “cornerstone of civilization.”

“Seriously, folks, if an aging sex symbol like me starts waving the red flag of caution over how low moral standards have plummeted, you know it’s gotta be pretty bad,” she wrote.

Recommended reading

Raquel : Beyond the Cleavage (Racquel Welch)

Well – recommended for the ladies at least! In her autobiography, Raquel provides a positive deluge of beauty tips – eye and face pads that helpfight wrinkles, skin care dos and don’ts, and details of her daily regime to maintain her youthful skin and appearance. She waxes on clothes, dating, looking your age, eating and exercise. Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz


Miss Welch once claimed she spent up to ten hours a day keeping herself in shape, through a combination of yoga sessions, weight training, healthy eating and her make-up regime.

‘I’ve always been a health fanatic,’ she says. ‘I found out a long time ago that if I indulged by stuffing my face with great food, lying about reading books and watching TV or talking on the phone, I was not a happy camper. Turning 60 was not a happy time. I didn’t think ‘I’m falling apart’, but I did re-examine my priorities. I’m far more ready to go with the flow now because I am more accepting of myself.’

So what happened? Was the 10 hour daily regime increased to 12? You’ve got to laugh!

Looking back on her life, she lets women in on her childhood, dominated by a volatile father; her first love, marriage, and divorce; her early struggles as a single working mother in Hollywood; her battles for roles and respect as an actress; and her daring decision never to lie about her age.

I haven’t seen the book, wouldn’t read it if I did, but cannot criticise it. The actor Robert Wagner was suitably impressed with it and gave copies to each of his daughters. Quoting from his book “I loved her in the movies – Memories of Hollywood’s Legendary Actresses” (Viking 2016) he acknowledges that Miss Welch had obviously learned and grown a great deal in the intervening years; a period in time since they had filmed The Biggest Bundle in the 60’s. Unfortunately, he describes her as unprofessional throughout the shoot, her daily inability to show up on time nearly giving another of her co-stars, Edward G. Robinson, a heart attack.

Harmless waffle by a woman so far removed from the reality of daily life, that it’s untrue.


Raquel Welch


One for the ladies only, unless you’re into cross-dressing!