The late actress Raquel Welch reportedly died from cardiac arrest following a slow decline from Alzheimer's disease, the Daily Wire reported. Welch passed away on Feb. 15, but her cognitive condition was not made public at the time.
Her death certificate recorded both the cardiac arrest and her bout with Alzheimer's. It's not uncommon for the two conditions to be linked as the same mechanism responsible for a buildup of plaque in the brain can do so in the heart.
Welch, whose real name is Jo-Raquel Tejada, was born in Chicago on September 5, 1940. Her career spanned decades but began with a splash.
The actress's meteoric rise to fame came from her role in "One Millon BC" in 1966 where Welsh appeared onscreen in the now-iconic fur bikini that turned her into an instant sex symbol. That same year she also starred in "Fantastic Voyage."
"I was happy that I had got a break so I could have my career, but at the same time, it was like: ‘This isn’t me. But this is what I have to do because this is my ticket to ride, '" Welch recalled in her book, "Raquel: Beyond the Cleavage."
What moviegoers didn't know was that Welch was very ill with tonsilitis during the filming of the prehistoric adventure. "I had already so much penicillin when I was wearing the fur bikini that I almost died," she said.
"I had to rush, turn my car around and head right back to the doctor’s office, just run upstairs, jump in the elevator, and all that. And I barely got there," she added.
"They had to shoot me with an antidote. Otherwise, I would have died," Welch claimed.
"It was [a] really rough shoot, man. Really rough. And then I came to London and everybody knew who I was." That star power didn't fade as nearly half a century later, Welch was ranked No. 2 on Men’s Health’s 100 Hottest Women of All Time list in 2011.
However, her serious accolades came from her role in "Three Musketeers" alongside Faye Dunaway in 1973 for which she earned a Golden Globe nomination. "My first day on set, Faye Dunaway comes over to me all dolled up, and she was so cute," Welch remembered in a 2012 interview.
"She said, 'Darling, I just want you to know, I’m a big fan of yours. But don’t you know, they’re all just waiting for us to tear each other’s eyes out. So let’s have fun with them,'" Welch said.
“Everyone on set was going, ‘Uh-oh, here they come,’ standing there watching. And Faye gets out her fan and starts fanning herself, saying, ‘Darling, I adore your work,'" the actress said.
"And I say, ‘Everything you do is genius!’ Everyone was so disappointed," Welch recalled.
Welch is a once-in-a-generation icon who came on the scene at a time when the nation was in turmoil. Her passing marks the death of another actress, but also of another era.