Myra Breckinridge Was A Chance For Raquel Welch To Evolve Her ‘Sex Symbol’ Image

Raquel Welch’s legacy as a sex symbol is well documented, as a huge poster of her from “One Million Years B.C.” is used to cover the increasingly deep escape hole in Andy Dufresne’s jail cell in “The Shawshank Redemption.” Author Peter Haining wrote the book on Welch’s career evolution, titled “Raquel Welch: Sex Symbol to Super Star.” Despite the mixed reactions to the finished product of “Myra Breckinridge,” the starlet’s role was a game changer. He notes in the book that, “Raquel herself was cautious in her first pre-filming statement to the press, realizing only too well because of the story and the other actors who were being lined up to appear with her (Rex Reed, John Huston, Farrah Fawcett, and the veteran Mae West) that the months ahead would be fraught with pitfalls.”

Welch would say that the role of Myra wasn’t her “dream part,” but acknowledged the part as the first “real role” she had ever been offered. At this point in her career, Welch was almost exclusively playing bombshell roles, like Lust in the original “Bedazzled” with Peter Cook and Dudley Moore. “It’s the first time I’ll be able to exercise myself as a comedienne,” she was quoted as saying in the book. “Image? I don’t think one role, even this one, can hurt that. As a matter of fact, the whole campy, sex symbol thing has gone too far in one direction as far as I’m concerned. Playing Myra will probably do me more good than harm.” 

Regardless of the critics’ feelings on the film overall, Welch was right. Her performance in “Myra Breckinridge” opened doors for continued roles, like her Golden Globe-winning performance in “The Three Musketeers.”

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