Welch wanted success on her own terms. She didn’t want to have to change her ways, her name, or her attitude to fit in with the Hollywood crowd. With her talents and charisma, she started getting noticed in numerous ways across Los Angeles.
In 1965, she appeared in “Life” magazine in a stylish, fashion-forward bikini – and from then on, she had the attention of the world and the city where she had made her stand. It was only the first step on her way to stardom, but she already had plenty of people waiting for her next spread.
Changing Her Personal Brand
Welch started gaining more recognition, but not under the name we all know and love. She was still going by her family name, and pressure from inside the industry started pushing her to change it to something more American-sounding. In her bestselling 2010 memoir “Raquel: Beyond the Cleavage,” she said that people were telling her it was too ethnic, too difficult to pronounce, and too exotic.
Hollywood had a problem with different ethnicities at the time, and even her first name, Raquel, was seen as too exotic. Pressure mounted, but Raquel wasn't to be swayed. She already had an American last name, thanks to her ex-husband. Why change her first name, too?
Pressure Turned Her Into a Diamond
Even as pressure from the industry increased, Welch refused to change herself to suit the style of the day. She loved her Latin heritage and wanted to continue to honor her background, even if she didn't speak much Spanish.
She found it difficult at times, commenting that the language you speak is very important to your identity. Not being able to speak with people who are part of your community will isolate you. However, Welch still felt Hispanic in her heart and refused to shy away from the essence of who she was – a Latina.
The Acting Begins
Thanks to her exposure – in more ways than one – with the bikini in “Life,” Welch gained more attention in showbiz, and before long, she had her first role. Her TV Debut was on the ABC series “Hollywood Palace.” Her stunning good looks and classy charm helped her make the role her own and helped get plenty of eyes on her.
Now she had the attention of not just “Life” magazine readers or Hollywood industry members, but the general public as well. People from around the nation tuned in to watch Welch, and she began to realize she had quite the future ahead of her as an actress.
Her First Movie Roles
At about the same time she was in “Hollywood Palace,” Welch made a few uncredited appearances, including in the Elvis Presley movie “Roustabout.” She was also in the film “Do Not Disturb,” and soon enough, her roles were getting bigger and bigger.
The TV world wasn't good enough for her, and before long, she had a starring role in the movie “A Swingin' Summer,” a pop musical movie. Her star was rising fast, and her starring role didn't just gain her more exposure – though that was definitely part of what she earned – she also got something much more significant.