Raquel Welch death certificate reveals legendary actress died aged 82 of cardiac arrest after undisclosed battle with Alzheimer’s disease

  • Welch died at the age of 82 following a brief illness, with her business manager confirming she died at home in Los Angeles
  • Welch rose to international fame from her back-to-back roles in Fantastic Voyage and One Million Years BC
  • Born in Chicago to a Bolivian father and American mother, she was raised in California and in 1995 named one of the 100 Sexiest Stars in Film History 

Raquel Welch died of cardiac arrest following an undisclosed battle with Alzheimer’s disease, according to her recently published death certificate. 

The legendary American actress and international sex symbol passed away in Los Angeles at the age of 82 on February 15, following what was described at the time as ‘a brief illness.’ 

Her death certificate, obtained by TMZ, has since revealed an Alzheimer’s diagnosis that was not publicly disclosed prior to her death. 

The degenerative condition, for which there is no cure, is a brain disorder that slowly destroys the sufferer’s cognitive skills and ability to carry out even the most basic of tasks. 

Cardiac arrest was cited as another contributory factor, with Welch suffering heart failure while at home in southern California.   

Tragic: Raquel Welch died of cardiac arrest following an undisclosed battle with Alzheimer’s disease, according to her recently published death certificate (pictured in 2017)

Shock: The legendary American actress and international sex symbol passed away in Los Angeles at the age of 82 on February 15, following what was described at the time as ‘a brief illness’ (pictured in 1966 film One Million Years B.C)

What is Alzheimer’s?

Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive, degenerative disease of the brain, in which build-up of abnormal proteins causes nerve cells to die.

This disrupts the transmitters that carry messages, and causes the brain to shrink. 

More than 5 million people suffer from the disease in the US, where it is the 6th leading cause of death, and more than 1 million Britons have it.


As brain cells die, the functions they provide are lost. 

That includes memory, orientation and the ability to think and reason. 

The progress of the disease is slow and gradual. 

On average, patients live five to seven years after diagnosis, but some may live for ten to 15 years.


  • Loss of short-term memory
  • Disorientation
  • Behavioral changes
  • Mood swings
  • Difficulties dealing with money or making a phone call 


  • Severe memory loss, forgetting close family members, familiar objects or places
  • Becoming anxious and frustrated over inability to make sense of the world, leading to aggressive behavior 
  • Eventually lose ability to walk
  • May have problems eating 
  • The majority will eventually need 24-hour care   

 Source: Alzheimer’s Association


Her long-term business manager Steve Sauer confirmed the news of her death in a press release at the time. 

‘Her career spanned over 50 years starring in over 30 films and 50 television series and appearances,’ said Sauer. 

‘The Golden Globe winner, in more recent years, was involved in a very successful line of wigs.

‘Raquel leaves behind her two children, son Damon Welch and daughter Tahnee Welch.’

Welch rose to fame after her back-to-back roles in Fantastic Voyage and One Million Years BC in 1966, breaking the mold of the ‘blonde bombshell’.

From there, she appeared in a slew of movies and television shows, and earned a Golden Globe for her role as Constance de Bonacieux in the 1974 remake of The Three Musketeers.

DailyMail.com spotted the star in July at a Beverly Hills nail salon, J&J Beauty Lounge.

Glamorous as ever, she was dressed in gold hoop earrings and a white top with black pants, and seen patiently reading magazines in the waiting area until her beautician was ready.

Before her July outing, low-key Welch, who rarely ventured out in public, was last photographed by DailyMail.com in September 2021.

That marked the first time she’d been spotted in two years.

Iconic: She appeared in a slew of movies and television shows, and earned a Golden Globe for her role as Constance de Bonacieux in the 1974 remake of The Three Musketeers

Farewell: Welch, pictured in 2017, is survived by her two children, Tahnee and Damon Welch

‘This is so sad,’ tweeted actor Paul Feig. 

‘I had the great pleasure of working with Ms. Welch when I was a regular on Sabrina the Teenage Witch and she was awesome. 

‘Kind, funny and a true superstar whom I was pretty much in love with for most of my childhood. We’ve lost a true icon.’ 

Actor Titus Welliver, 60, tweeted: ‘Raquel Welch has departed. An iconic beauty and actor. RIP.’ 

The estate of Ray Harryhausen – a British American animator who worked on some of the most celebrated films of the 1960s, including One Million Years BC, and died in 2013 aged 92 – expressed their condolences.

‘We are saddened to hear about the passing of legendary actress Raquel Welch, who starred as Loana in Ray Harryhausen’s 1966 classic ‘One Million Years B.C’. 

‘An iconic role which spawned one of the most famous movie posters ever. 

‘Our thoughts are with her family at this sad time.’

Actress Sandra Bernhardt tweeted: ‘A unique beauty who left her one of a kind groovy vibe wherever she went #raquelwelch.’

Abbott Elementary star Bruno Amato said he had met Welch not long ago, and was bewitched.

‘Raquel Welch. This was 7 years ago. She was a guest on ‘The Talk’ and I was working on the show ‘Baby Daddy.’ 

‘Somehow our dressing rooms were across from each other. She was so gracious and still a total bombshell and I was in complete awe.’

Welch guest-starred on The Muppets, and Miss Piggy praised her former co-star.

‘Raquel Welch was one of the most wonderful people I’ve ever worked with. 

‘Performing a duet with her on The Muppet Show helped moi become the W-O-M-A-N I am today! We’ll never forget vous, Raquel!’

Welch was born Jo-Raquel Tejada on September 5, 1940 in Chicago, Illinois, to a Bolivian aeronautical engineer father, Armando Carlos Tejada Urquizo, and an American mother, Josephine Sarah Hall. 

She had two younger siblings, James and Gayle Tejada. 

The family moved to San Diego, California when Welch was two years old, while her father worked on the war effort.

She regularly attended church with her mother.

Welch began studying ballet at the age of seven, but gave up on the pursuit after 10 years when her instructor told her she did not have the right body type for professional ballet companies.

At the age of 14, Welch won beauty titles such as Miss Photogenic and Miss Contour. She went on to win Miss La Jolla and the title of Miss San Diego – the Fairest of the Fair – at the San Diego County Fair. 

Eventually, she was named Maid of California.

Groundbreaking: Welch played the transgender titular character Myra Breckinridge in the 1970s film of the same name

Breakthrough: Her first foray into Hollywood came with guest spots on popular television shows before she landed her breakout roles in Fantastic Voyage and One Million Years BC

Stunning: Welch was named one of the 100 Sexiest Stars in Film History in 1995

Following high school, Welch attended San Diego State College on a theater arts scholarship, and married her high school sweetheart, James Welch in 1959. 

She went on to work as a weather forecaster for a local San Diego television station, and gave up on acting for a while — after only earning roles in local theater companies.

Following her separation from her first husband, Welch made a precarious living as a cocktail waitress and as a model for Neiman Marcus.   

In 1963, she moved to Los Angeles to pursue her lifelong dream of becoming a movie star.

There, she met one-time child star Patrick Curtis, who became her personal and business manager — and later husband. He had suggested that she continue to use her ex-husband’s name to avoid being typecast as a Latina actress.

Her first foray into Hollywood came with small roles in two films, A House is Not a Home and Elvis Presley’s Roustabout. She also landed spots on popular television shows like Bewitched, The Virginian and McHale’s Navy.

Previously: DailyMail.com spotted the star in January after she spent time getting a manicure in Los Angeles

Stylish: Welch wore glamorous gold hoop earrings and a white top with black pants as she patiently read magazines in the waiting area until her beautician was ready

Discomfort: DailyMail.com spotted the sixties sex symbol writhing in pain as the manicure got intense 

Welch’s first featured role was in the 1965 beach film A Swingin’ Summer. That same year her photo in Life Magazine also gained her some attention, including from the wife of producer Saul David, who recommended her to a contract with 20th Century Fox. 

She agreed to a seven-year non-exclusive contract, for five pictures over the next five years.

The studio cast her in her first big break in Fantastic Voyage, playing a member of a medical team that is shrunk down and injected into an injured diplomat in an effort to save his life.

From there, the studio loaned her contract to Hammer Studios in the UK to produce One Million Years BC.

For that role, and the notoriously skimpy outfit, the New York Times hailed Welch’s performance as ‘a marvelous breathing monument to womankind’.

And another author said: ‘Although she had only three lines in the film, her luscious figure in a fur bikini made her a star and the dream girl of millions of young moviegoers.’

She also starred alongside Edward G Robinson in the Naples-set heist film The Biggest Bundle of Them All. 

She took on roles playing the deadly sin Lust opposite Peter Cook and Dudley Moore in the 1967 British comedy Bedazzled, and played the titular secret agent in the spy comedy Fathom.

Welch also had roles in the 1969 western 100 Riles, as well as the sequel to Tony Rome, appearing next to Frank Sinatra in the detective film Lady in Cement.

Her most controversial role, though, was as transgender titular character Myra Breckinridge in the 1970 film.

That same year, CBS also released her own, short-lived television show, Raquel! 

She also made the rounds on television over the next few years, appearing on Robin Williams’ comedy Mork and Mindy as his nemesis, as well as in television films The Girl’s Back in Town and Right to Die, earning a Golden Globe for the latter. 

Welch’s looks and fame led her to be named the Most Desired Woman of the 1970s by Playboy — even though she refused to pose naked for the magazine or any of her films.

‘I’ve definitely used my body and sex appeal to advantage in my work, but always within limits,’ she said. 

But, she added: ‘I reserve some things for my private life, and they are not for sale.’ 

Old times: Welch is pictured posing for a portrait in 1978 in Los Angeles after years of stardom

Legends: In 1969, Welch appeared next to Frank Sinatra in the detective film Lady in Cement

Remember this? In 1994, Welch appeared in Naked Gun with Leslie Nielsen (pictured here on set)

Comedy: In 1975, Welch appeared on The Muppet Show singing I’m a Woman with Miss Piggy

Let’s get physical: The star is pictured filming her workout video Body and Mind: Total Relaxation and Stress Relief Program

Still, her career was not without its bumps, as she was set to appear in the 1982 adaption of John Steinbeck’s Cannery Row, but was abruptly fired after a few weeks of filming.

Studio executives said at the time she was not living up to her contract, by missing early morning rehearsals.

Welch sued the studio for breach of contract in response.

In testimony, MGM executives dismissed the suit by saying Welch was bitter because she was over 40, an age when actresses tend to start losing roles. 

But Welch’s evidence proved there was a conspiracy to falsely blame her for the film’s budget problems and delays.

The jury ultimately sided with Welch, and she won a $10.8million verdict against MGM in 1986. 

More recently, Welch made appearances on Lois & Clark, Sabrina the Teenage Witch, Seinfeld, Spin City and CSI: Miami. 

Welch was married to James Welch from 1959 to 1964, Patrick Curtis from 1967 to 1972, Andre Weinfeld from 1980 to 1990, and Richard Palmer from 1999 to 2004.

She had two children with her first husband, Latanee ‘Tahnee’ and Damon Welch. 

Special: Welch is pictured here after donating $1million in wigs to the American Cancer Society for her 65th birthday

Crossing paths: Jimmy Stewart is pictured meeting Welch for the first time at the premier of The Flight of the Phoenix in 1966

Marriage: Welch is pictured here with her second husband, Patrick Curtis, at a bullfight in Spain in 1968

Family: Welch is survived by her son, Damon Welch, pictured here at the 46th annual Academy Awards in 1974 with his mother

In 1994, Welch received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for her years of work, and in 2001, she was awarded the Imagen Foundation Lifetime Achievement Award for her positive promotion of Americans of Latin heritage throughout her career.

Even as she aged, Welch was still considered a legendary beauty.

She was named in 1995 one of the 100 Sexiest Stars in Film History, and in the same year was ranked No. 3 in Playboy’s 100 Sexiest Stars of the 20th Century, behind only Marilyn Monroe and Jayne Mansfield. Brigitte Bardot was fourth.

In 1984, Welch also released Raquel Welch Total Beauty and Fitness Program books and videos, detailing a hatha yoga fitness program, her views on healthy living and nutrition, as well as her beauty and personal style.

She also created a signature line of wigs, and began a jewelry and skincare line.

And in January 2007, Welch was named the newest face of MAC Cosmetic Beauty Icon series. Her line featured several limited-edition makeup shades in glossy black, with tiger-print packaging.

Read all about it: Welch is pictured autographing copies of her book Raquel: The Raquel Welch Total Beauty and Fitness Program, in 1984

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