February 15, 2023

R.I.P. Raquel Welch

I worked with Raquel Welch when she starred in "Woman of The Year" on Broadway. As she died today, 2/15/23, at the age of 82, I'm posting it again in her memory. 

Mayonnaise, Me + Raquel Welch

Beauty and The Condiment

When you hear the name “Raquel Welch,” you probably think of her in that famously babacious publicity shot.

She’s standing on the beach in a busty, fur bikini. The earth is parting. Mountains are falling. Volcanos are going off all over the place. It’s from the 1966 action thriller “One Million Years BC.”

But when I say “Raquel Welch,” I think of something entirely different. I think of Hellman’s mayonnaise.

What’s the connection? Have a seat, and let me share a story about Beauty and The Condiment.

Raquel Welch was in Manhattan taking over the role played by Lauren Bacall in “Woman of the Year” on Broadway. The bi-coastal entertainment public relations agency I was with assigned me as one of her press agents for the show.

After Ms. Welch landed from LA, we met in my office. We discussed various requests, like the Girl Scouts wanting to imprint her hand in a pie-pan of wet Plaster of Paris for an auction they were having.

We also decided to meet the following day at a tearoom on Park Avenue in the 50s. Ms. Welch and I would review her upcoming media schedule. I needed to be on my game.

But there was one big problem: my hair. It was dry. “A friend” (notice the quotation marks) had told me that using mayonnaise as a conditioner was an excellent solution.

So that evening, after work, I bought a small jar of Hellmann’s.

Standing in the shower, I scooped out a glob and massaged it into my scalp. “What a great idea!” I said as I coated my head, making sure to cover every strand of hair. “Who would have ever thought that using a sandwich ingredient would remedy dry hair?”

When I finally finished scrubbing, I held my head under the flow of water. So relaxing!

Yet as much as I tried, the mayonnaise was not coming out.

I shampooed again.

And again.

Finally, I turned the water to cold. Maybe that would break down the oil molecules. It didn’t.

I switched the water from hot to very hot. I could feel my head beginning to blister.

Perhaps mayonnaise as a hair conditioner wasn’t a beauty trick at all. Maybe it was just a big fat trick.

I stepped out of the shower and wrapped a towel around my head. Maybe the terry cloth fabric would soak up the mayonnaise? The answer was no.

I gave up and went to sleep.

The next morning, I awoke to an oil-soaked pillowcase, as if someone had been eating salad in my bed.

I looked in the mirror. It looked like someone had poured a bottle of Bertolli Olive Oil over my head. Keep in mind this was the 80s. Big hair and volume were in. Think Farrah Fawcett and Jane Fonda.

Everyone (including me) tried to get that perfect, fluffy, flicked-out hairdo. Instead, mine was now hanging in strings.

I got dressed (being careful not to touch my hair to anything) and was out the door. Since I lived on West 58th Street, I could walk to the tearoom. And if I did it fast enough, perhaps the cold air would get caught in my hair and give it some lift.

As I approached Raquel, I tried to muster every ounce of self-confidence. We sipped tea and blabbed. Discussed ideas for a Harper’s Bazaar shoot and a request to do a segment on “The Today Show.” I prayed that she didn’t notice my hair. If she did, she was probably wondering when was the last time I’d washed it.

Her eyes darted around the room, hoping someone would spot her. (Or maybe to distract her from staring at my HEAD.)

This brings us to Beauty Tip #1:

DO NOT USE MAYONNAISE AS A CONDITIONER FOR DRY HAIR. (Especially if you have a meeting with Raquel Welch the next day.) My advice: stick with something that specifically says it will moisturize, nourish and repair dry hair.

Look and look, but you won’t find that on a bottle of mayonnaise.

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