Raquel Welch, whose emergence from the sea in a skimpy, furry bikini in the movie One Million Years B.C. made her an international sex symbol in the 1960s and ’70s, has died. She was 82.

Welch died early Wednesday after a brief illness, according to her agent, Stephen Laman of the Innovative Artists talent agency.

Welch’s breakthrough came in the 1966 prehistoric film One Million Years B.C., despite only having three lines. Dressed in a brown leather bikini, she successfully evaded the pterodactyls, but not the public eye.

“I just thought it was a stupid dinosaur epic that we could sweep under the rug one day,” she told the Associated Press in 1981. “It’s wrong. It turned out that I was the Beau Derek of the season, the lady in the loincloth that everyone said, ‘Oh my god, what a doll’, and they expected her to disappear overnight.”

She didn’t, playing Lust in the comedy team of Peter Cook and Dudley Moore in their film Blinded in 1967 and playing a secret agent in the sexy spy spoof Fathom the same year.

Her curves and beauty captured the attention of pop culture, and Playboy named her the “Most Desirable Woman” of the 70s, despite never appearing fully nude in the magazine. In 2013, she was ranked #2 on Men’s Health magazine’s Hottest Women of All Time list. In The Shawshank Redemption, Welch’s poster covers the escape tunnel, the last of three used by Andy Dufresne’s (Tim Robbins) character after Rita Hayworth and Marilyn Monroe.

Fans took to Twitter to mourn the star, including TV presenter Rosie O’Donnell, actor Chris Maloney and writer-director Paul Feig, who worked with Welch on Sabrina the Witch and called her “kind, funny and a true superstar”. I was very much in love for most of my childhood. We have lost a true icon.”

In addition to acting, Welch was a singer and dancer. She surprised many critics and received positive reviews when she starred in the 1981 musical Woman of the Year on Broadway, replacing Lauren Bacall who was on vacation. She returned to the Great White Way in 1997 with Victor/Victoria.

She knew that some people did not take her seriously because of her glamorous image. “I’m not Penny Marshall or Barbra Streisand,” she told the AP in 1993. – They will say: “Raquel Welch wants to be a director? Give me a break.”‘

Welch was born Jo-Raquel Tejada in Chicago and grew up in La Jolla, California. (The Jo in her name came from her mother, Josephine). Welch was a divorced mother when she met former actor-turned-press agent Patrick Curtis.

“The irony of it all is that even though people thought I was a sex symbol, I was actually a single mother of two young children!” she wrote in her autobiography, Raquel: Beyond the Cleavage.

Curtis became her manager and second husband and helped shape her into a glamor girl with hundreds of magazine covers and a string of movies, as well as exercise videos and books like The Raquel Welch Total Beauty and Fitness Program.

Although she appeared in exploitation films, she also surprised many in the industry with standout performances, including Richard Lester’s The Three Musketeers, which earned her a Golden Globe, and with James Cocka in Wild party”. She was also nominated for a Globe in 1988 for the TV movie Right to Die. She played herself and mocked the divas in an episode of Seinfeld, memorably attacking Elaine and rattling Kramer.

Married and divorced four times, she has two children, Damon Welch and Tanya Welch, who also became an actress, including a starring role in the 1985 film Cocoon.

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