Sunday, June 26, 2016

Betting on a Welch

Things are still crazy in The Underworld, but I thought it might be fun to celebrate summer with a series of photos featuring that legendary glamazon Raquel Welch. This time out all but this first one involve either a bikini or some variation on that theme. If a straight reader happened to have stumbled in here by mistake, perhaps this will make his day! The rest of us can revel in Raquie's array of hairstyles & colors and choices of swimwear. It's remarkable how many times this gal found herself sporting a two-piece. This is merely a sampling. Because she is so stunning to behold, we'll probably be back on another occasion to celebrate more gussied-up looks of hers!

In the early days, Miss W had not completely mastered the art of posing in a swimsuit and there were a few awkward shots. (I'm not even posting the worst of them. We like pretty things around here! LOL)
While not exactly alluring, some of the shots were at least a bit athletic. Already by this time, by the way, she was a divorced mother of two!
Having kicked around in bit parts and walk-ons for a year or two (and a failed audition to play Mary Ann on Gilligan's Island, 1964-1967), Raquel at last began to really get noticed for her work in the sci-fi adventure Fantastic Voyage (1966.) In it, she played assistant to a scientist who, along with several others, is shrunken to microscopic size and injected into a VIP patient to save his life.
Her skin-tight, white scuba suit caused a sensation with filmgoers and, though she never wore a bikini in the movie, this publicity photo played with one of the memorable images in it in which her body was pelted by attacking microscopic blood cells that clung to her curves.
All that was NOTHING, however, in comparison to the impact she made with her next film.
One Million Years B.C. (1966) found her, with newly-lightened hair, playing a cavegirl in a fur bikini, being traumatized by dinosaurs and other assorted dangers.
Images of Raquel Welch in this get-up permeated the globe and led to her gaining legions of devoted fans.
As filming wore on, the poor costume became more and more abbreviated and skimpy!
Back in contemporary swimwear, but retaining her lightened locks, she was a devastating goddess.
Gone were the sometimes-gawky poses and odd stances of her earlier starlet years. Now Miss Welch was an international sensation.
Her attention-getting body would be at the forefront for several years as she enjoyed cinema stardom.
Fathom (1967), which cast her as a curvaceous female spy, and The Biggest Bundle of Them All (1968), in which she was a curvy kidnapper, continued the trend.
One was likely in the mid-'60s to see Raquel in a swimsuit than in any other garb.
1967's Bedazzled saw her in a variation of the swimsuit, this time a (naturally bedazzled) bikini dance costume.
No longer a nameless bit player or piece of decoration, she was raking it in as a superstar.
She costarred with Frank Sinatra in 1968's Lady in Cement, a detective yarn which was a sequel to 1967's Tony Rome.
Whether dry and sultry....
...or wet and slinky, she was a to-die-for object of desire.
Sometimes her considerable hairstyles made the call for a bikini top superfluous!
A foray into westerns such as Bandolero! (1968), 100 Rifles (1969) and, later, Hannie Caulder (1971) had no place for a bikini, but she could always improvise such as this "two-piece" made from a poncho and a gun holster!
Her curves were put to use in Peter Sellers' 1969 spoof The Magic Christian as "Princess of the Whip!"
She was hardly finished with iconic cinematic imagery, however. 1970's controversial and outrageous sex-change flick Myra Breckinridge had her dolled up to mimic a showgirl statue that had once twirled in front of the Chateau Marmont Hotel.
Again, images of her were spread to the four corners of the Earth, though the film was reviled by critics and considered confusing to many moviegoers.
She was wringing every opportunity out of her career, but soon began to want something beyond the image of a statuesque beauty. Immediately after Myra, she began to seek out more varied and demanding fare, be it The Beloved (1971), an adultery drama, Fuzz (1972), a darkly comic police movie, or Kansas City Bomber (1972), a tough roller derby flick in which she wore little makeup.
The all-star mystery movie The Last of Sheila (1973) preceded one of Welch's finest hours, her role of a sexy clutz in The Three Musketeers (1973) and its immediate sequel (filmed at the same time) The Four Musketeers, for which she won a Golden Globe Award.
Of course by then a reputation for being difficult and demanding had also arisen. You can bet that this expression is a familiar one to personal assistants and producers from around that time! LOL
Yes, Welch was a firecracker and still in demand as an actress in things like Mother, Jugs and Speed (1976) and Crossed Swords (1977), though the wheels came off in 1982 when she was fired from Cannery Row after five days of filming and replaced with the far younger Debra Winger. She sued, and won a hefty judgement, but her days on the big screen came to an abrupt and lengthy halt. It was 1994 before anyone would hire her for a feature and that was for a virtual walk-on in Naked Gun 33-1/3: The Final Insult.
Nevertheless, even as she grew older, she could still rock a bikini and actually wound up showing more skin as a grown woman than she had as a starlet!
A career shift towards television, live performing, fitness and entreprenurianism kept her busy and in the public eye. She began embracing her Latin heritage (she is half-Bolivian) and working in projects that accented that along with launching successful wig and eyewear lines.
In her hey day few could match the way she filled out a swimsuit.
Likewise, few women can lay claim to having become a top international sex symbol, worshiped the world over by salivating fans.
And that, my friends, is a WRAP!

Friday, June 24, 2016

Fun Finds: Italian Caricature Cards, 1971.

Sometimes we wonder if the roller coaster of life will ever slow down enough to where we can take the time necessary to delve into one of the posts that is on deck, but never permitted to come to fruition! Work is still as busy as ever (and thanks to someone recently giving two weeks notice, is about to become even worse!) and evenings have been sucked up by a landslide of activities. I've been in rehearsals for a theatre excerpt which performs this weekend at a regional convention. So I'm going to be out of the loop for several days.

To bridge the gap a little, I'm sharing these cards. From a series called Once Upon a Time, they are from 1971, made in Italy, and feature caricatures of some of the movies' biggest stars. I actually am not a huge fan of caricatures as a rule. The artists always seem to zero in on some distinctive aspect of a face and distort it, often in an unflattering way.  My grandmother used to get so upset at newspaper political cartoons that offered up grotesque renditions of our Presidents. (I'd die if someone did one of me and can never understand why people go to theme parks and pay to have one done! LOL) Some of these are more flattering than others.  I believe only one of these folks is still alive today, though many of them were at the time of release. This collection isn't even half of them if the numbers on them are any representation. I'm presenting them in numerical order.