For five days, the Film Society was delighted to host cultural icon, sex symbol and cinematic goddess Raquel Welch. In addition to the showcase of rarely-screened mainstream and cult classics that catapulted her to stardom, Welch herself sat down for several Q&As, providing a personal, commanding, and infectiously charismatic look into her work and career.
Prior to a screening of the controversial cult classic Myra Breckinridge (1970), Welch sat down with author, fashion commentator and renowned Barneys window-dresser Simon Doonan. In the video below, she recounts everything from her experience with Mae West—her impersonation is spot-on—to the intellectual challenges of working on a campy project that she had hoped would be revolutionary. Welch adored Gore Vidal’s book and, upon hearing that Anne Bancroft had dropped out of the titular role, she approached the producers and coyly offered: “If a guy were going to change his sex and wanted to be a movie star type of girl, don’t you think he might want to look like me?”
The next night, Welch chatted with legendary talk show host and New York Times pundit Dick Cavett before a screening of The Three Musketeers (1973). The two go way back, and showed it with a snappy rapport that anecdotally covered Welch’s work with Richard Burton, Dudley Moore, Peter Cook, Victoria de Sica, and even a failed seduction of Stephen Boyd. Below, you can see her ruminations on her status as a sex symbol and comparisons to Marilyn Monore, growing older, coming into her own and sharing her real off-screen persona with the world. “I wasn’t part of the star system,” said Welch, talking about her desire to write a book, “so people didn’t know me—they never used me in any film, so I wanted to share my persona.” See the very authentic and candid real Welch below.