THE news that Raquel Welch is starring in an American sitcom brought back a few memories.
Scan the web today and you’ll find plenty of stories about how, at 67, she is still one of Hollywood’s sexiest women.
Back in the day, Raquel was voted the most desired woman of the 1970s, having also been a sex symbol of the 1960s.
So imagine how I felt in October 1984 when, still a young reporter, I was sent to interview her.
Having done my research, I turned up one Sunday morning at The Savoy Hotel in London as church bells rang nearby.
Having seen Raquel on the big screen in films like One Million Years BC, I was surprised to see how relatively petite she was – just 5’ 6”.
And I was also taken with how relaxed she was in the interview – with just the pair of us and her, then, husband in the room.
Part of the interview appears to have become mangled in our digital library, but I thought you might like to read the extract below.
There are also links at the bottom of this blog to Raquel and her role in CBS comedy Welcome To The Captain.
She plays actress Charlene Van Ark, who is on the comeback trail while pretending to be 42, when the character is really 52.
The sitcom is based in an apartment block, with Raquel playing “the resident vixen”.
As you can read below, perhaps there was something in that book after all.
MEN Oct 31 1984:
SHE’S half an hour late, but, as befits a superstar, Raquel Welch, perfectly poised, strides into the Savoy.
Here to promote her new beauty and fitness book, the sex symbol of the Sixties chooses one of the hotel’s deepest chairs.
Faced with cushions soft enough to swallow half the staff, Raquel wisely sits forward fruit juice in hand.
The conversation immediately turns to that interview with the man she calls ‘Tony Wogan’. The BBC’s pride and joy encountered Raquel straight from a wet Friday night traffic jam after a long day of interviews.
He then asked Ms Welch if she was jealous of her 22-year-old daughter Tahnee, just starting out on a film career. “If you’re jealous of you’re own family. I mean you might as well give up,” a relaxed Raquel told me.
“It was like roast a celebrity. I wasn’t aware of that so I was a little shocked. I was completely zonked.”
Her dark eyes betray her exhausting schedule but, for 44, Raquel is in pretty good shape. Is it true she doesn’t think of herself as beautiful? “Yes, of course. I’ve been sprucing myself up before I walked in this door. You don’t think I would greet you cold turkey, so you?”
She doesn’t think much of her eyes, hair or ankles, but her muscles, shoulders and legs are OK. “I have nice teeth and a good smile, but my mouth is a little dodgy,” she adds.
Raquel spent a year writing every word of her book, said by those in the know to be one of the belter offerings for the ‘me’ generation. “I wrote the book to demonstrate to other women that staying fit and beautiful was work for me. I had do something about myself, too. It just didn’t happen to me. I wasn’t just one of the lucky ones, y know.”
Her third husband, French photographer Andre Weinfeld, 38, stands at the back of the room, Gallic and gallant. He insists on enduring the same tiring routine as his wife.
Chicago-born Raquel first came to prominence in One Million Years BC. A string of largely forgettable films followed with The Three Musketeers among the exceptions.
Then came her Broadway debut, taking over from Lauren Bacall in Woman Of The Year. “It took a very long time from One Million Years BC to a success on Broadway.”
Surprisingly, for someone whose body has been ogled at from Salford to Singapore, she’s never done a nude scene. She would have taken her clothes off but was never given the right scene to do it in, she explains.
“They just wanted me to whip off in the middle of the desert somewhere, surrounded by Indians.”
Raquel arrives in Manchester tonight for an overnight stay before a two-hour signing session at WH Smiths in the Arndale Centre tomorrow.
It’s a tough life promoting the fit life. Raquel was originally offered the Joan Collins role in Dynasty but she turned it down.
Later, or so the speculation goes, she demanded £800,000 to play Blake Harrington’s new lover. It’s a rumour Raquel is quick to quash. “No. it isn’t true,” she says.
And as husband Andre points out, with the new series of Dynasty now in production there was never any chance of Raquel joining the cast.
Welcome To The Captain
Meet Charlene: CBS Video Link