Raquel Welch starred in Hemet’s 1959 “Ramona” Pageant – Orange County Register

Raquel Welch will always have a place in the history of the Inland Empire.

Decades ago, the actress, who died on Wednesday February 15 at the age of 82, played one of her first professional roles in The Hills of Hemet.

In 1959, the actress then known as Raquel Tejada landed the lead role in Hemet’s “Ramona,” the cult outdoor play that turns 100 this year.

RELATED: Legendary actor Raquel Welch dies at 82

A two-time winner of beauty pageants in La Jolla, she was then an acting major at San Diego State College. Welch starred in the play, which was staged at the Ramona Bowl Amphitheater in the hills. She portrayed Ramona, who is half Indian and half Spanish and falls in love with Alessandro, a Native American. The tragic love story is based on the novel by Helen Hunt Jackson.

A banner above the box office at the Ramona Bowl Amphitheater in Hemet welcomes Raquel Welch "ramona" on May 2, 2009. The actress, who starred in the 1959 play, returned to celebrate the 50th anniversary of her role. (Archive photo by Fielding Buck/The Press-Enterprise/SCNG)
A banner above the box office at the Ramona Bowl Amphitheater in Hemet welcomes Raquel Welch to “Ramona” on May 2, 2009. The actress, who starred in the 1959 play, returned to celebrate the 50th anniversary of her acting in the role. (Archive photo by Fielding Buck/The Press-Enterprise/SCNG)

Wel has never forgotten this experience.

She traveled to Hemet in 2009 to perform at a performance to celebrate the 50th anniversary of her starring role. Introducing the final show of this year’s season, Welch told the audience that she was 18 at the time, newly married and pregnant with morning sickness.

She released a statement on the occasion.

“Driving to Hemet this afternoon, I couldn’t help but think back to my time at the Ramona Pageant,” Welch wrote. “…I was so young and hadn’t started to seriously pursue my career as an artist. So being part of this unique production was really encouraging.

“It’s wonderful to see that the pageant continues and that so many people today are supporting Native American culture, which is such an important part of American heritage.”

Welch also has at least one other connection to the Inland Empire.

Her 1975 film The Wild Party was filmed at the Mission Inn in downtown Riverside.

The 100th season of “Ramona” will bring viewers six shows between April 22nd and May 7th.

https://www.ocregister.com/2023/02/15/raquel-welch-starred-in-hemets-ramona-pageant-in-1959/ Raquel Welch starred in Hemet’s 1959 “Ramona” Pageant – Orange County Register

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