Bodacious. Was that even a word before Raquel Welch arrived on the scene? Ever since she struck a pose in a furry bikini in One Million Years B.C., her beauty has been celebrated far and wide. But where she once was a sex symbol, we now consider her an Age Boldly icon as she celebrates her 80th birthday on September 5th.
Welch was never known for her great thespian skills, but she certainly lit up the screen in Bay City Bomber, The Three Musketeers, and Fantastic Voyage. The film, Myra Breckenridge, in which she starred in the title role, has been called one of the worst films ever made, but is notable for its early embrace of gender fluidity and a lesbian love scene between Welch and Farrah Fawcett.
Her off-screen life was not as steamy, but still there were four marriages and love affairs with Sean Connery and Joe Namath. Besides her two children, her legacy is setting the standard for a strong, take-no-shit woman who also happens to be beautiful. Plus, she was one of the first women to have the lead role in a Western. Hannie Caulder influenced the revenge fantasy films that came later, such as Kill Bill from Quentin Tarantino. We think that’s a good thing.
As a business woman, she’s had great success with a line of wigs, which helps explain the incredible hair in recent photos. A practitioner of Hatha Yoga, Welch spread the gospel of healthy living and good nutrition, and at 80, the results are obvious. She makes us want to give on chocolate chip cookies forever. Well, almost.
Please note: Photo of Welch above is from 2013.
Padma Lakshmi, 50
Another dark-eyed beauty has a milestone birthday this September. Top Chef host Padma Lakshmi hit the half-century mark on September 1st. Lakshmi has worked as a model and actress, and is the author of three cookbooks and a memoir called Love, Loss, and What We Ate. She’s also fluent in five languages, which gives us a major case of envy.
We’ll forgive her beauty and her many accomplishments (plus the gorgeous bikini photo she posted for her birthday), because she is admirably outspoken against sexual assault (going public with her own traumas), heads her own non-profit to promote endometriosis awareness and research, and serves as an ACLU ambassador.
Taraji P. Henson, 50
The woman has range. Just watch Taraji P. Henson, turning 50 on September 11th, slip easily from the steely Cookie Lyon in Empire to the brainiac, “human computer” Katherine Johnson in Hidden Figures.
Her breakout role was in Hustle & Flow, which also gave her the chance to show off her vocal chords. She sang for the track, “It’s Hard Out Here for a Pimp.” One of her upcoming roles is as Emmett Till’s mother in a film that recounts the horrendous murder of a 14-year-old boy. Till’s mother made the difficult decision to have an open casket so the world could see what brutes had done to her son, and we look forward to seeing Henson bring her natural dignity to the role.
Melissa Leo, 60
If you saw The Fighter, it’s hard to forget Melissa Leo’s ferocious performance as the tough, Boston-bred momager of Christian Bale’s character. She rightfully won an Oscar for that role and made us wonder why she wasn’t a star earlier and then we remembered: It’s Hollywood.
Nevertheless, she is an inspiration for hanging in the game, getting her reward, and showing us you’re never too old to be an “overnight success.” This 1960 baby turns 60 on September 14th.
Marion Cotillard, 45
Welcome to the Tribe, Marion Cotillard! On September 30th, the French actress becomes old enough to be an official member. With an Oscar under her belt already and as the new face of Chanel No. 5 fragrance, we can’t wait to see what more she does in the coming years.