Welch, often credited for creating a pathway for modern-day action heroines in Hollywood films, became an international sex symbol in the 1960s.
She was widely remembered for playing a bikini-clad cavewoman in the 1966 film One Million Years B.C, as per BBC.
Welch also won a Golden Globe for her role in 1974’s The Three Musketeers.
Born Jo-Raquel Tejada in 1940, Welch grew up in California, where she won teen beauty pageants and later became a local weather forecaster.
During a brief stint in Dallas, Texas, the divorced mother-of-two modelled for the Neiman Marcus clothing store and worked as a cocktail waitress.
Her big break came in 1964 soon after she moved back to California, when she scored cameos in A House Is Not A Home, and Roustabout, a musical starring Elvis Presley.
She shot to fame two years later, with her back-to-back roles in the sci-fi film Fantastic Voyage and the fantasy movie One Million Years B.C.
Welch only had a few lines in the latter, but promotional stills of her wearing a skimpy two-piece deerskin bikini turned her into a leading pin-up girl of the era.
Despite her public image, however, she long expressed discomfort with the representation of her body, once saying she “was not brought up to be a sex symbol, nor is it in my nature to be one”.
“The fact that I became one is probably the loveliest, most glamorous and fortunate misunderstanding,” she added.