Sad Details Revealed In Raquel Welch's Death Certificate

On Feb. 15, 2023, Raquel Welch died at her Los Angeles home. At the time, her press agent, Steve Sauer, told Entertainment Tonight that "The legendary bombshell actress of film, television, and stage, passed away peacefully ... after a brief illness." The actor who rose to fame as a sex symbol in the 1960s and had to fight for more serious roles was 82 at the time of her death. Welch last appeared on film in 2017, playing a glamorous grandmother in "How to Be a Latin Lover." That same year, she had a recurring role in the Canadian American television show "Date My Dad."

The death certificate from the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, dated April 3, 2023, and obtained by TMZ, lists Welch's cause of death as "cardiac arrest." But another illness that neither Welch nor her family had publicly revealed when she was alive may have played a part in her demise. The report lists Alzheimer's disease as an "underlying cause ... that initiated the events leading to death."

A life in front of the camera 

Raquel Welch was born Jo-Raquel Tejada in Chicago on Sept. 5, 1940, to an aeronautical engineer father who was born in Bolivia, Armand Tejada, and an American mother, Josephine Hall, who met each other in college, according to The New York Times. Welch began acting and taking dancing lessons at a young age and after a stint as a "weather girl" at a San Diego television station, she divorced her first husband and moved to LA with her two children to pursue a Hollywood career. A contract with 20th Century Fox soon landed her roles, including in the 1966 sci-fi film "Fantastic Voyage." But it was "One Million Years B.C.," from the same year, that featured her in a fur bikini, that rocketed her to stardom.

Soon Welch tired of throwaway roles focused on her sex appeal rather than her acting chops. "They really didn't want any other input from me," Welch told Cigar Aficionado in 2001. "I had all these ideas and ambitions percolating inside, but nobody wanted to hear them." She eventually won a Golden Globe for her role in 1973s "The Three Musketeers," and appeared on Broadway. In total, Welch was in 30 movies and 50 television series.

Her final years 

After splitting from restaurateur Richard Palmer in 2003 (per People) whom she married in 1999  — Raquel Welch lived alone in a sprawling $4.4 million five-bedroom Beverly Hills mansion and had a somewhat reclusive life in her final years. She bought the multi-million-dollar property in 2009. In the two years before her death, the public rarely got a glimpse of her. Being single was her choice. "Raquel has a lot of Hollywood friends who think she'd be happier if she shared her golden years with a man," an unnamed friend told Radar Online. "She isn't interested in finding a partner because she's perfectly happy living life on her own."

Welch died alone in her home at 2:25 a.m. on the morning of Feb. 15, according to her death certificate. Her family had her cremated six days later, per the report. The actor's two children, Damon and Latanne "Tahnee" Welch, survive her. They were from Welch's first marriage to James Welch, with whom she tied the knot at 19 after they began dating in high school. Her other husbands prior to Palmer were the film producer Patrick Curtis, from 1967 to 1972, and French screenwriter André Weinfeld, who she married in 1980 and divorced a decade later.

How did Raquel Welch die? 

Cardiac arrest occurs when "the heart suddenly and unexpectedly stops pumping," according to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. Blood stops flowing to the brain and vital organs, causing death. Alzheimer's disease is a type of dementia that "affects memory, thinking, and behavior," per the Alzheimer's Association. It's currently incurable and affects more than 6 million Americans older than 65, or one in nine people in that age category, with one in three seniors dying with Alzheimer's or other forms of dementia.

Raquel Welch was not the only famous actor to have Alzheimer's. Other Hollywood legends who endured the disease included Charlton Heston, Jimmy Stewart, Ronald Reagan, and Rita Hayworth. Welch mused about getting older in an interview with The Los Angeles Times in 2010. "As life goes on, you get more valuable as a person, she told the newspaper. "Many women look better. Personally, I think I look better because I have lived and I have a different kind of aura about me having lived." In 1996, the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce memorialized Welch's career with a star on its Hollywood Walk of Fame.