Jo-Raquel Tejada, better known as the Bolivian-American global sex symbol Raquel Welch, was fighting Alzheimer’s when she died.

The actress died two months ago at age 82 of cardiac arrest, according to a death certificate obtained by TMZ. In addition, the certificate points to Alzheimer’s disease as a condition that caused her death.

Her manager Steve Sauer previously confirmed that she “passed away peacefully after a brief illness.”

However, they kept secret that Welch had Alzheimer’s.

The battle Raquel Welch fought in secret

More than 6 million Americans of all ages have Alzheimer’s. An estimated 6.7 million Americans age 65 and older are living with Alzheimer’s in 2023. 

The two-time Golden Globe nominee’s last public sighting was when she visited a nail salon in July of last year, six months before she died.  

Raquel Welch was considered one of the most gorgeous female stars of the 1960s and 1970s. 

She rose to stardom with her films “Fantastic Voyage,” “One Million Years B.C.,” “Kansas City Bomber,” and “The Four Musketeers” — for which she received a Golden Globe Award for Best Actress in a Motion Picture — Comedy or Musical.

The burden of being a symbol 

The deerskin bikini she wore in “One Million Years B.C.” became her signature “outfit” and propelled Welch into international sex symbol stardom. 

It became her signature look and encased her in nearly-there outfits for most of her career. An actress with a wealth of comedic talent, she was reduced to the star-spangled swimsuit in “Myra Breckinridge” and an orange two-piece in “The Biggest Bundle of Them All?” 

No doubt she rocked it better than Ursula Andress in her white Bond number, but Raquel was more than bathing suits. 

“Her career spanned over 50 years, starring in over 30 films and 50 television series and appearances,” Sauer said. Welch was also involved in a successful line of high-end wigs, sunglasses, and other fashion items.

Few are aware that Raquel Welch is Bolivian-American 

She was born in Chicago in 1940 to Armando Tejada, a Bolivian-born aeronautics engineer and an American mother who could trace her roots back to the Mayflower.

Forty years into her career in show business, Welch finally claimed her heritage when she played Aunt Dora on “American Family,” a PBS television series about a Mexican-American family in East Los Angeles.

But there is one fight almost no one knows about. 

In 1981, Welch became the unlikely paladin of actor’s rights. That year, she sued MGM Studios for breach of contract after they fired her from the film “Cannery Row” at only 40. Actress Debra Winger, then 15 years younger, replaced Welch.

She won $10 million and set a precedent. The girl in the deer-skin bikini struck a blow against sexism and ageism — and that is a fitting legacy for a woman like Raquel.