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Remembering Raquel Welch: Here Are Some Things You Might’ve Not Known About This Latina Icon’s Illustrious Life

Remembering Raquel Welch: Here Are Some Things You Might’ve Not Known About Her Illustrious Life
Credit: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons (left), NBC TelevisionUploaded by We hope at en.wikipedia, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons (right)

Jo-Raquel Tejada, famously known as Raquel Welch, died yesterday, February 15th, 2023. She died at the age of 82 due to an unknown illness as reported by TMZ.  

Welch was an iconic Latina bombshell, actress, entrepreneur, and more. She was loved, admired, and inspired many people with her story – especially her story about her identity.  

Though she became regarded as a sex symbol for much of her life, she was more than what met the eye.  

Let’s take a look at the stories and events Welch left behind and imprinted in society for the rest of time.  

Her Latina identity wasn’t always celebrated

Born in Chicago to a Bolivian father and a mother from the United States, Welch wasn’t allowed to explore her Latina identity as per her father’s orders. Her father, Armando Carlos Tejada, who migrated to the States to study engineering, attempted to assimilate into the “American culture” as much as he could. This influenced how he raised his family. He even banned the Spanish language from their home. 

”Those people who wanted to make it in the American system found it necessary and desirable to kind of suppress their Latino quality,” she once told the New York Times in an interview when she spoke about her father.  

”He never spoke any Spanish in the home, so as not to have us have an accent. We never were in a neighborhood where there were other Latinos around. I didn’t know any Latin people.” 

She eventually understood why her father had taken such drastic measures to erase their identity. At that time, the climate in the United States wasn’t meant for people of color or anyone who looked or sounded remotely different. Discrimination against Latine people and migrants was at an all-time high, so it was best to lay low back then.  

In 2022, nonetheless, she spoke at a National Press Club luncheon and exclaimed how she was proud to be a Latina.  

She was named after her Bolivian grandmother

Welch didn’t get the chance to explore her Bolivian culture as much as she’d liked. Yet, she was well aware that she had been named “Raquel” to honor her Bolivian grandmother. It took the Latina icon over 30 years to meet her namesake.  

She was encouraged to hide her Latina identity for Hollywood’s sake

In order not to be typecasted as only a Latina actress, she was told she needed to look as “American” as possible. This was an attempt to mask her Latina background. So, during her first big role in “One Million Years B.C.,” her hair was dyed blonde. She also started using her first husband’s last name, Welch, in her professional life to be able to land more roles. The actress, however, refused to let go of “Raquel” because it was important to her that a piece of her remained present.  

Nevertheless, to her pleasure, she did end up playing a Latina in two films during her career, “Bandolero!” and “100 Rifles.” 

Raquel Welch ventured into entrepreneurship later in life

Welch was as brilliant as she was talented too. Tapping into what she had learned during her career in Hollywood, she understood that there was a need in the beauty market for well-made wigs and hairpieces. So, she decided to start selling wigs. Her Raquel Welch® Wig Collection features high-quality synthetic wigs that felt like human hair and were heat friendly.  

Welch is survived by her son, Damon James Welch, and her daughter, Tahnee Welch.  

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