You can’t imagine a modern-day movie actress getting a prime time TV special in which she sings and dances her way through the latest pop hits, but 1970 was a very different time, Raquel Welch was the undisputed sex symbol of the day – her iconic role in One Million Years BC leading to other cult movie hits and establishing her as the big haired, perfect-figured embodiment of her era.
The Raquel! TV special aimed to cash in on her popularity, and seemingly succeeded – the show had an impressive 58% share of audiences. Produced, directed and choreographed by David Winters (who had previously worked on specials for the likes of Nancy Sinatra and Ann-Margret, and in the 1970s would be Linda Lovelace‘s partner while making an esoteric collection of films including Alice Cooper‘s Welcome To My Nightmare and Rollerboogie), the Raquel! special was a suitably groovy affair, shot around the world, with Raquel singing swinging hippy numbers like Aquarius, Games People Play, California Dreamin’ and The Sounds of Silence, while clad in eye-popping Bob Mackie costumes. Along for the ride, in comedy skits or performing duets, are Tom Jones, Bob Hope and John Wayne.
In truth, Raquel Welch has a passable but unremarkable voice – she’s not unpleasant to listen to, but if this was an LP, it’d be fairly forgettable. What make this so memorable and so entertaining are the costumes, the dance routines and, of course, the naturally created special effect that was Raquel Welch.
Available on various grey market DVDs, Raquel! is crying out for the sort of special edition release that the brilliant Movin’ With Nancy received several years back. Until then, you can enjoy the whole campy spectacular here.