Actress and model Raquel Welch dies at 82

(ABC News) – Actress and model Raquel Welch, known for her roles in the 1966 films “Fantastic Voyage” and “One Million Years B.C.” has died, according to her representative. Welch was 82.

“The legendary bombshell actress of film, television and stage, passed away peacefully early this morning after a brief illness,” Welch’s rep said in a statement to KABC. “Her career spanned over 50 years starring in over 30 films and 50 television series and appearances. The Golden Globe winner, in more recent years, was involved in a very successful line of wigs.”

“Raquel leaves behind her two children, son Damon Welch and her daughter, Tahnee Welch,” her rep added.

Welch was born on Sept. 5, 1940, in Chicago, to Armando Carlos Tejeda, an aerospace engineer, and his Irish American wife, Josephine Sarah Hall. When she was 2 years old, she and her family moved to San Diego.

Welch had a desire to perform at a young age. As a child, she took dance lessons and earned teen beauty titles including Miss La Jolla and Miss San Diego.

In 1958, she attended San Diego State College where she studied theater arts. That same year, she married her first husband, high school sweetheart James Welch, and they had two children: Damon Welch and Tahnee Welch.

Outside of school, she got a job as a weather forecaster at a local San Diego station.

After her separation from James Welch in 1962, she moved to Los Angeles where she began applying for film roles. It was during this time that she met her agent, Patrick Curtis, who devised a plan to turn Welch into a sex symbol. To do so and avoid typecasting as a Latina actress, he advised Welch to keep her ex-husband’s last name.

The move led to Welch being cast in small roles in the films “A House Is Not A Home” and the Elvis Presley musical “Roustabout.”

She also landed small roles in the TV shows “Bewitched,” “McHale’s Navy” and “The Virginian.”