Fur bikini of Raquel Welch

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Fur bikini of Raquel Welch
1969 Werbefilm-Imitationen Condor Films.jpg
Publicity featuring Raquel Welch's fur bikini in One Million Years B.C.
DesignerCarl Toms[1]
Year1966 (1966)
TypeBikini/film costume

A fur/hide bikini was worn by Raquel Welch in the 1966 British-made prehistoric saga One Million Years B.C.. In that bikini, she was described as "wearing mankind's first bikini" and the fur bikini was described as a "definitive look of the 1960s".[2][3]


A publicity still of her in the bikini became a best-selling poster and turned her into an instant pin-up girl.[4] The bikini raised Welch's stature as a leading sex symbol of the era,[5] and the photograph became something of a cultural phenomenon as a best-selling pinup picture.[6][7][8] The iconic pose of Welch was taken by the unit still photographer as Welch recalled in a 2012 interview.[9] It was used by artist Tom Chantrell to create the film poster promoting the theatrical release of One Million Years B.C., on which Welch in her fur bikini is accompanied by the film's title in bold red lettering across a landscape populated with dinosaurs.[10] Publicity photos of Welch in the fur bikini became the biggest pin-up sensation since Betty Grable's famous pin-up photo taken by Frank Powolny in 1943,[11] which received 50,000 requests a month from World War II US soldiers.[12] One of her publicity photos in the fur bikini had her hanging from a crucifix. The photo taken by Terry O'Neill was deemed too scandalous and was suppressed, until it was published thirty years later by The Sunday Times Magazine.[13]


Hammer originally offered the role of Loana Shell, Welch's character, to Ursula Andress, who four years earlier became a sensation rising out of the sea in a white bikini in Dr. No, the first Bond movie.[14][15][16] When Andress passed on the project due to commitments and salary demands, a search for a replacement resulted in the selection of Welch.[17] Welch, who had finished doing Fantastic Voyage under a contract with 20th Century Fox and was touted as America's Ursula Andress,[18] was loaned out to Hammer Studios in Britain. In a 2012 interview she said she did not want to wear the fur bikini.[19] She believed it to be a "fate worse than death".[11] She declined an offer of $500,000 to take part in a sequel to the film.[20]

The bikini was designed by Carl Toms, an award-winning theatre costume designer (Tony Award, 1975) who also designed for nine mostly Hammer films. She said, "Carl just draped me in doe-skin, and I stood there while he worked on it with scissors." She stated in another interview in 2012 that three form-fitting bikinis were made for her, including two for a wet scene and a fight scene.[9] Created as kind of stone-age designer bikini,[21] it was an artfully cut fur bikini with shoulder straps. The furry part of the skin is on the inside, like a lining, and provides elegance to the edges.[22] The fur was sometimes touted as lion fur.[23] Toms recalled, "For One Million Years B.C. I designed a fur bikini for Raquel Welch. She had such a perfect body that I took a very soft doe skin, we stretched it on her and tied it together with thongs."[24] The Loana character also wore well groomed hair, waxed armpits and ankle high go-go styled boots. In the 1940 version of the film, Carole Landis had worn a soft-leather version of a one-piece swimsuit in the film with similar carefully cut "random" edges as Loana.[25]


The New York Times hailed her in its review of the film (which was released in the U.K. in 1966 and in the U.S. in 1967), "A marvelous breathing monument to womankind."[26] One 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".[27] The European audience was delighted, as she was featured that year on the covers of more than 90 European magazines.[18] In 2011, Time listed Welch's B.C. bikini in the "Top Ten Bikinis in Pop Culture".[28] The fur bikini was voted the most iconic bikini, followed by the white bikini of Ursula Andress in a poll conducted by Swimwear365 among 2,000 women.[29]


According to Filmfacts, Million Years gave rise to "the familiar quota of buxom starlets about to pop out of their animal skin bikinis, an awful lot of bleached hair" in films with a prehistoric setting.[6] The bikini was altered for Celeste Yarnall to be re-used in Eve (1968).[30] Hammer Studios tried to re-emulate the fur bikini in Slave Girls (1967) with Welch's Million Years co-star Martine Beswick, When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth (1970) with Victoria Vetri, and Creatures the World Forgot (1971) with Julie Ege. But, the Raquel Welch fur bikini remained Hammer's biggest success.[31] Toms was the costume designer for Slave Girls and When Dinosaurs along with Million Years.[32] In 1970, a spoof of the bikini, worn by Valerie Leon, featured in the parody film Carry On Up the Jungle.[33]

The fur ensemble worn by Destiny's Child in the music video Survivor was inspired by Welch's fur bikini.[34] Barbara Bach's fur bikini in Caveman (1981) was a more revealing version of Welch's bikini.[25]

The iconic publicity poster was a story element in the film The Shawshank Redemption.[35][36]


  1. ^ Wayne Kinsey, Hammer Films: The Bray Studio Years, Reynolds & Hearn, 2002
  2. ^ Filmfacts 1967. University of Southern California. Division of Cinema. 1967. Retrieved 24 May 2011.
  3. ^ Mansour, David (2005). From Abba to Zoom: A Pop Culture Encyclopedia of the Late 20th Century. Andrews McMeel Publishing. p. 345. ISBN 978-0-7407-5118-9.
  4. ^ Westcott, Kathryn (5 June 2006). "The Bikini: Not a brief affair". BBC News. Retrieved 17 September 2008.
  5. ^ Bale, Miriam (10 February 2012). "The GQ&A: Raquel Welch". GQ. Retrieved 21 August 2013.
  6. ^ a b Filmfacts. 1967. Retrieved 24 May 2011.
  7. ^ Mansour, David (2005). From Abba to Zoom: a pop culture encyclopedia of the late 20th century. Andrews McMeel Publishing. p. 345. ISBN 978-0-7407-5118-9. Retrieved 28 August 2012.
  8. ^ Gayomali, Chris (5 July 2011). "Top 10 Bikinis in Pop Culture". Time. Archived from the original on 30 July 2017. Retrieved 30 July 2017.
  9. ^ a b Spitznagel, Eric (8 March 2012). "Interview with Raquel Welch". Men's Health. Retrieved 25 November 2012.
  10. ^ Wigley, Samuel (23 November 2016). "Amicus and the art of the film poster". British Film Institute. Archived from the original on 29 July 2017. Retrieved 29 July 2017.
  11. ^ a b Gary Allen Smith, Epic Films: Casts, Credits and Commentary, page 215, McFarland, 2009, ISBN 1476604185
  12. ^ "100 Photos" Archived 27 June 2019 at the Wayback Machine, Time.
  13. ^ Fusaro, Kim (10 March 2016). "The Story Behind the Crucified Raquel Welch Photo Hanging In Khloe Kardashian's Home", Glamour.
  14. ^ "Former Bond girl to sell Dr No bikini". The Daily Telegraph. 13 January 2011. Retrieved 16 May 2011.
  15. ^ Bensimon, Kelly Killoren (2006). The bikini book. Thames & Hudson. ISBN 978-0-500-51316-3.
  16. ^ Lindner, Christoph (2009). The James Bond Phenomenon: A Critical Reader. Manchester University Press. ISBN 978-0-7190-8095-1.
  17. ^ Smith, Gary A. (1991). Epic Films: Casts, Credits and Commentary on over 250 Historical Spectacle Movies. Mcfarland & Co. p. 162. ISBN 978-0899505671.
  18. ^ a b Diane Telgen, Notable Hispanic American Women, page 416, VNR AG, 1993, ISBN 0810375788
  19. ^ Allen, Nick (2 March 2012). "Raquel Welch: 'I never wanted to wear fur bikini in One Million Years BC'", The Telegraph.
  20. ^ The Saturday Evening Post, Volume 240, Curtis Publishing Company, 1967
  21. ^ Ramón Espejo, Critical Essays on Chicano Studies, page 153, Peter Lang, 2007, ISBN 3039112813
  22. ^ Patrik Alac, Bikini Story, Page 81, Parkstone International, 2012, ISBN 1780429517
  23. ^ Cordelia Candelaria, Encyclopedia of Latino Popular Culture (Volume 2), page 883, Greenwood Publishing Group, 2004, ISBN 0313332118
  24. ^ Wayne Kinsey, Hammer Films: The Bray Studio Years, page 128, Reynolds & Hearn, 2002, ISBN 1903111447
  25. ^ a b Edward Maeder, Hollywood and History: Costume Design in Film, page 75, Thames and Hudson, 1990, ISBN 0500014221
  26. ^ "'One Million Years B.C.' Presents a Nice Live Raquel Welch". (22 February 1967). The New York Times.
  27. ^ Otfinoski, Steven (2007). Latinos in the arts. Infobase Publishing. p. 243. ISBN 978-0-8160-6394-9.
  28. ^ Gayomali, Chris (5 July 2011). "Raquel Welch's Fur Bikini in One Million Years B.C. – Top 10 Bikinis in Pop Culture". Time. Archived from the original on 9 July 2011. Retrieved 28 August 2012.
  29. ^ Reynolds, Mark (4 July 2016). "Marilyn Monroe and Raquel Welch triumph over 21st century models in battle of bikini babes". Daily Express.
  30. ^ Louis Paul, Tales from the Cult Film Trenches, page 310, McFarland, 2007, ISBN 0786429941
  31. ^ Michael Klossner, Prehistoric Humans in Film and Television, pages 44-46, McFarland, 2006, ISBN 0786422157
  32. ^ Brian McFarlane & Anthony Slide, The Encyclopedia of British Film (fourth edition), page 764, Oxford University Press, 2013, ISBN 9780719091391
  33. ^ Farida J Manekshah, Memory of Beheram, page 212, eBook Versions, 2016, ISBN 1843964333
  34. ^ Shayne Lee, Erotic Revolutionaries: Black Women, Sexuality, and Popular Culture, page 16, Government Institutes, 2010, ISBN 0761852298
  35. ^ Carr, Jay (23 September 1994). "Captivating Shawshank". The Boston Globe. Archived from the original on 5 November 2013 – via Highbeam Research. (subscription required)
  36. ^ Harvey, Neil (7 October 2004). "Shawshank Redemption gets the treatment it deserves". The Roanoke Times. Archived from the original on 5 November 2013 – via Highbeam Research. (subscription required)