I look at that picture now and think, That’s me, those legs akimbo, that active stance, that is me. I was an active, outdoorsy girl. There’s a lesson in that: Experiment, but always be true to yourself, your purpose, your attitude, your feeling. And be yourself. That’s what real style is: It’s being yourself on purpose. You can be influenced by other attractive women in the magazines or on the street but always make it your own.

Love Your Flaws

Some of my defects are the most beautiful things about me. When I started working with makeup as a young woman, I found that the fact that my eyes were deep-set gave that sort of fierce look. Women used to come up to me and say, “Oh, we love you because you’re so fierce.” And in the beginning, I thought, Oh, no, what does that mean? Now, I kind of like it.

I also have very strong cheekbones that look kind of formidable, and it really wasn’t the look that was happening in the ’50s. At that time, I thought that I was not beautiful because I had olive skin— back then, it was Marilyn Monroe, a very blonde, very pale thing — but then I found my skin could be a plus too. Perfection is really not the same as beauty. I didn’t feel I was a great beauty, but I did have a look, and that look was mine.

Don’t Overdo It

When I look back on my films, there are a couple of times I say, “Oh, my God, that was so over the top, what was I thinking?” My mom would keep these scrapbooks of all of my old photographs, old clippings. Women had long hair to begin with, then we had to spray it to make it even more voluminous, then we had an extra hairpiece thing on the top, so it was a lot, a lot, a lot of hair. And I used to use a lot more eyeliner, layers of it. When I see that I think, Whoa! Now, I try to make it a little more subtle.

A year after her breakout role as a prehistoric warrior in One Million Years B.C., Welch portrayed Lilian Lust — the human embodiment of the deadly sin — in the 1967 film Bedazzled.

Everett Collection

Get Moving

A lot of the movies that I made were action films, shot outdoors, and I grew up in La Jolla, California, which is a surfing area, and so I was always outside. When I came along in films, I was excited to play action parts, because I thought, Oh, I get to do some of that stuff that the guys get to do. I still do something physical every day. You absolutely have to have an exercise program. I don’t care about what kind of plastic-surgery exploits you get into, it’s not going to do the trick. You’re not going to look 19 again — ever. What is that old expression? Use it or lose it.

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