Welch was a La Jolla beauty queen-turned-single mom, but to the world, she was an exotic actor whose smoldering looks and curvy figure suited the mood of the swinging 1960s.
“I liked that there was something very superhero about her,” Welch told The Times in 2016, referring to her role as Loana the cave girl. “At least I wasn’t one of those mincing little girls; I never wanted to be that.”
Indeed, Welch had a complicated relationship with her persona. Forever determined to prove that she was more than a sex symbol, she was rarely taken as seriously as she took herself. And though she proudly refused to do nude scenes, her fame was always tied directly to her sexuality, a fate she accepted with regret.