The host or the producers of The Dick Cavett Show possessed a sense of humor — or at least a sense of the absurd. The program’s many odd pairings included, especially, Raquel Welch and Janis Joplin. And then Douglas Fairbanks joins their discussion. “There was no doubt she was different from you,” Cavett deadpanned to Welch decades later.
Conservative and classy, Welch never once, to the complete displeasure of Mr. Skin, appeared nude on screen or page. She did not need to disrobe to make men’s heads cartoonishly swivel 360 degrees when she walked around. One struggles, particularly if born after her heyday, to visually remember any movie acting the certified movie star did, save for the mere knowledge that she appeared in Myra Breckenridge, The Magic Christian, and other largely forgotten films.
Her movies did not age as well as she did. Her most memorable silver screen appearance may have been on a poster in Andy Dufresne’s cell — “That cupcake on the wall,” says the warden — in a pivotal Shawshank Redemption scene.
Yet one can never forget Raquel Welch on the covers of magazines, playing herself on Seinfeld, or in that Dick Cavett appearance. To see her is to remember her. That she exuded glamor in an anti-glamor age made her star shine more brightly compared to her peers (as though any existed).
Like Jennifer Lopez reorienting male eyes toward women’s backsides, Welch made Hollywood safe for, thankfully, brunettes again.
We associate fashion with beauty, but even beauty experiences fashions. And for a time more than five decades ago, Raquel Welch was the fashion.
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