Welch's charms have survived test of time

The career lifespan of a movie sex goddess is rarely longer than a decade. But that hasn't been the case with the ageless Raquel Welch. Now 63, the former Jo Raquel Tejada has proven over the decades to both audiences and critics that she has more going for her than a curvaceous bod and beautiful face -- she's a fine dramatic actress and a skilled comedian. As her career enters its fourth decade, Welch is still going strong on TV ("American Family") and in movies ("Legally Blonde"). Welch even has her own jewelry line on the Home Shopping Network and is an activist for women's health issues.

Now Welch -- born in Chicago to a Bolivian father and American mother -- is the subject of a film retrospective, "Viva Raquel!," Thursday through Saturday at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. The former beauty queen and model is scheduled to appear at Thursday's gala screening at LACMA of her infamous 1970 X-rated film, "Myra Breckinridge," based on the novel by Gore Vidal. Thrashed by critics when it was released, the comedy -- which also stars Rex Reed, Mae West, John Huston, Farrah Fawcett and Tom Selleck -- has developed a cult following. Joining Welch in a panel discussion is director Michael Sarne.

Screening Friday is the 1967 camp delight, "One Million Years B.C.," in which Welch plays a bodacious Neanderthal clad in "mankind's first bikini," as well as the 1966 sci-fi classic "Fantastic Voyage," in which she plays the only female member of a medical team shrunk to microbe size and injected into a scientist to remove a deadly clot.

Saturday's program features Welch aptly cast as Lust in Peter Cook and Dudley Moore's riotous 1967 take on the Faust legend, "Bedazzled," and 1973's "The Three Musketeers," for which she won a Golden Globe as a sweet but klutzy handmaiden.

For information on the LACMA screenings, call (323) 857-6010 or go to www.lacma.org.

-- Susan King

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