SAN DIEGO — The entertainment world is mourning the death of actress Raquel Welch, who was a longtime San Diegan.
Welch was born Jo Raquel Tejada in 1940. She moved to La Jolla from Chicago with her family at two years old and would grow up to be one of the most iconic women in the world — an award-winning actress and sex symbol.
“There have been sex symbols, there have been pinups going back to the early, early days of entertainment,” said Scott Mantz, an entertainment journalist. “But there is before Raquel Welch and there’s after Raquel Welch.”
Her career spanned over 50 years, starring in over 30 films and 50 television series and appearances. She won a Golden Globe for the 1973 comedy “Three Musketeers” but changed the landscape of bombshell in the late ’60s, delivering just a few lines in the film “One Million Years B.C.”
“After that poster made the rounds in the late 1960s, the look and appearance of sex symbols gained a bigger strength,” Mantz said. “There was definitely a big change in what a sex symbol meant after Raquel Welch made her first appearance.”
She holds a special place in the hearts of San Diegans, graduating from La Jolla High School with honors in 1958 with honors.
“She was exceptional,” La Jolla High School administrator Rita Bastani told FOX 5. “I think she must have really enjoyed her high school years because she was involved in so many things. A cheerleader, she was in class council, she was in CSF, which is scholastic. She was in drama, the Girls League, jazz club.”
A wall of fame located the school’s auditorium pays homage to the late star with photos and a plaque.
“We hope young ladies are inspired by her, not only because of her beauty but also because of her intelligence and her hard work and dedication,” Casey Allen, the school’s theatre teacher, told FOX 5.
Welch was active in San Diego Junior Theatre at Balboa Park and was crowned Miss San Diego and Miss La Jolla. She attended San Diego State University before becoming a weather forecaster in San Diego and eventually making her way to Hollywood.