Flash forward only three short years, on the heels of my breakup with Jim and the beginning of my struggles in Hollywood. When I got there, with no car, two hundred bucks in my pocket, two kids, and no connections, it was pretty rough going. I ran into all kinds of weirdness. For one thing, children were considered personae non gratae back then. It was difficult to even rent an apartment. In early 1963, 90 percent of the vacancy signs specified "No Children." A couple of toddlers were not the kind of baggage a young actress starting out could advertise around town. It was wise to keep a low profile.

All of it was hateful and demoralizing. But I knew I was just passing through, and I didn't need the acceptance of those who disapproved. I just held my nose and gave myself a make-or-break, three-year deadline. Sometimes even today I drive by the first apartment we stayed in, just as a reminder of what a miracle it is that we survived that wicked period. What doesn't kill you makes you stronger. My early experience in H'wood vaccinated me against sleaze and phonies.

When I hit town, it was all about Bond, James Bond, and I almost became a Bond girl! I was tested for Thunderball. Producer Cubby Broccoli had seen my photo in a Life magazine layout called "The End of the Great Girl Drought!" He called Jack Gilardi, my agent at GAC, and the subsequent buzz around town created so much excitement that it enabled me to bag a long-term contract at 20th Century Fox. But because of a technicality involving start dates and contract options, Fox put me in the sci-fi classic Fantastic Voyage. I was disappointed. Here I was ready to snuggle up to Sean Connery but was assigned to eight months floating through the human bloodstream in a wet suit instead.

Since the '60s, sexy girls always seem to end up in sci-fi features; and they're still doing it. Look at Jessica Alba and Megan Fox. Since I was still unproven at the time, I was hoping that Fox would groom me for more challenging roles. But as fate would have it, the studio had a completely different plan for me. My first starring role was to be in a dinosaur epic called One Million Years B.C. Fox's studio head, Dick Zanuck, called to tell me that I would be playing the part of Loana in this remake of the 1940 caveman classic. Although I thanked him for my "big break," all I could think was, A dinosaur movie? You've got to be kidding me! I figured my performance would disappear without a trace.

From Raquel: Beyond the Cleavage by Raquel Welch (April 1, 2010); reprinted with permission from the publisher.


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