Raquel Welch, an American actress and model, died at the age of 82.

Raquel Welch, an American actress who is often credited with paving the way for modern-day action heroines in Hollywood films, has died at the age of 82.

According to her manager, the Hollywood star died peacefully on Wednesday morning after a brief illness.

In the 1960s, Welch became an international sex symbol, best known for her role as a bikini-clad cavewoman in the 1966 film One Million Years BC.

She also won a Golden Globe for her performance in The Three Musketeers in 1974.

Welch, who was born Jo Raquel Tejada in 1940, grew up in California, where she competed in teen beauty pageants and later worked as a local weather forecaster.

During a brief stint in Dallas, Texas, the divorced mother of two worked as a cocktail waitress and model for Neiman Marcus.

Her big break came in 1964, shortly after she returned to California, when she appeared in the films A House Is Not a Home and Roustabout, both starring Elvis Presley.

Two years later, she shot to fame with back-to-back roles in the sci-fi film Fantastic Voyage and the fantasy film One Million Years BC.

Welch only had a few lines in the latter, but promotional stills of her in a skimpy two-piece deer-skin bikini catapulted her to stardom.

Despite her public image, however, she long expressed discomfort with the representation of her body, once saying she “was not brought up to be a sex symbol, nor is it in my nature to be one”.

“Becoming one is probably the most lovely, glamorous, and fortunate misunderstanding,” she added.

Welch later addressed her image in her memoir, Raquel: Beyond the Cleavage, in which she discussed her childhood, her struggles as a single mother in Hollywood, and why she would never lie about her age.

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