It was fun to see Raquel Welch on the Piers Morgan show on ITV. When I was a kid, she was THE sex symbol when the term “sex symbol” was still used. None of us boys had EVER seen a Raquel Welch movie, I don’t think, but we all knew who she was thanks to her virtual ownership of the “busty beauty” mantle throughout the late sixties and seventies, and to her being the punchline to countless jokes by the likes of Dick Emery and Les Dawson.
She was gorgeous then and still is. She’s 75 and looks as though she has had no work done at all. (Mind you, Joan Collins was on the other night, and she looked amazing too and she’s about 120 – again, no obvious nips and tucks and an welcome absence of the things that you see in “20 Worst Plastic Surgery Fails” clickbaits.)
But I can reveal one of Raquel Welch’s secrets to looking great at 75. (75? Take a quick glance at that picture. She could pass for 30, easy.)
I met her 20 years ago when she was a guest on a short-lived (and best-forgotten) TV chat show I produced, starring the brilliant Jimmy Tarbuck (incidentally, the best joke-teller I have ever met).
‘Miss Welch”s busy diary meant she couldn’t make the live recording, so we cleared and dressed the studio early, allowing her to do the chat with Tarby without an audience (although the interview was shown to the live audience to record their laughs and applause.)
Anyway, two days before her appearance I’m faxed (faxed! fancy!) a lengthy document detailing Miss Welch’s lighting requirements. Chief among these is an absolutely ma-hoosive studio floor-light about as bright and as hot as the sun, and which costs a small fortune to rent. Shining it straight at someone’s face flattens out anything: cheekbones, chin contours, nose… However, add some carefully-positioned coloured sidelights and a corresponding back-light, and all the details reappear…apart from the wrinkles. She knows her stuff, does Miss Welch.
It did have the unfortunate side effect, however, of making it look as though Tarby was interviewing the Archangel Gabriel from a position inside a cave.
I took the picture (above) from my TV and it looks as though Piers Morgan’s producers had received the same memo, though probably not by fax.
For the record, when I met her she was beautiful – that is, truly beautiful – even without the lighting assistance. She was in her dressing room, which we’d made nice with flowers, and I told her about the show and what was going to happen, and she was perfectly…pleasant. Lovely to look at, she did not exude obvious sexiness. She seemed to me then to want to be friendly rather than sexy, though – come to think of it – it could very well just have been me and my cheap suit. Anyway, I expect being sexy all the time must be quite tiresome.
She was also charming to studio and production staff in the way that, in my experience at least, big stars are especially good at. They have nothing to prove, so they may as well be nice to the people who make them look good. “Now girls,” she joked as we all watched back the startlingly-lit recording together, “You know my secret. Don’t go telling’ anyone!”
(OK, OK…it’s not a brilliant celeb story, probably because it doesn’t reveal her to be a ghastly person. Sorry.)