Birthday September 5, 1940, Chicago.
Height 5' 6"
If one is forced to makes choices about just who are the bikini pinup stars of the 1960s, the short list must include the Mexican-American Raquel Welch.
Born in Chicago in 1940, Raquel Welch, like many others, engages in pinup modeling at the beginning of her career. It is the early 1960s, and a rather conservative Raquel confines herself to maillots (RW196210) and the occasional bare midriff outfit (RW196310). and her progression to fame is inversely proportional to her shrinking bikini (RW196420).
Welch's first substantial feature film role is The Swinging Summer, a 1965 release that casts her in what is to be her bikini silhouette of the late 1960s: A cross-the-heart string halter that uplifts cleavage coupled with a nombril that lies low on her waistline and captures the strong horizontal waistline of the period. In Swinging Summer Raquel's bikini is blue (RW196510), but publicity shots also showcase the silhouette in white (RW196520), orange, purple (RW196730), and, in what becomes one of Raquel's most famous publicity pictures, a soaking-wet yellow (RW196710) worn in the 1967 movie Fathom.
Toward the end of the 1960s, Welch adopts more variety of silhouettes. Cleavage is always a specialty (RW196610). Another famous pinup features Raquel wearing a push-up bra and very low-cut underwear briefs (RW196720), but it is not until late in the decade The Girl Who Can Speak with Her Body weighs in on the string halter (RW196810) and the sidering bikini, with a scooping, as opposed to horizontal, waistline (RW196905).
But during this period one bikini becomes a particular icon....
The Cave Girl Bikini
The first Raquel bikini to achieve international notoriety is a chamois leather halter and loincloth (RW196605) worn as her cave girl costume throughout the 1966 film One Million B.C. This "Cave Girl" poster image is widely reproduced in magazines. Thousands of black and white photographs are acquired by collectors, stock photo agencies, and publishers, and will be used for years to come.
Toward the end of the 1960s Raquel broadens her role as an actress and becomes a curious advocate of the sexual revolution. On one hand she displays a willingness to advance the struggle, playing interracial love scenes with Jim Brown in the movie 100 Rifles in 1969, and simulating buggery upon Rusty Godowsky in Myra Breckinridge in 1970 (RW197005). In the Magic Christian she plays a dominatrix, clad in a metal and leather maillot cutout slave-driver outfit, complete with bullwhip (RW197010). And the next year she is raped and left for dead in Hannie Caulder, but returns to hunt down her killers wearing a sideless poncho and leather holster bikini (RW197110).
But although Raquel is prepared to explore these contemporary roles, she also proclaims her disgust at the trends toward nudity in films. American's leading bikiniite may be prepared to exploit her body in a low cut neckline or bikini, but is not willing to appear topless or nude in films. In 1969 she says, "You've never seen me wearing anything less than any girl would wear on the beach."
Despite the public desire for an uncovered Raquel, even the paparazzi and the Celebrity Skin magazines never quite uncover her. Her most revealing collector item is a classic and stunning string halter and sidetie string bikini that is all too see-through (RW197610).
In 1979 she appears in a long-awaited cover feature for Playboy (RW197910). Inside she models topless in a string bikini but covers her breasts with her hands (RW197920), adopting a middle position toward toplessness that is there, but is not.
But her fans, in one of the digital age's first alterations, make her nude anyway.