The Tonight Show Starring Raquel Welch

Spectacular March 5, 1974 appearance was followed by a Golden Globes win.

Richard Lester’s 1974 film The Three Musketeers is neither a comedy or a musical. But as we all know, that has never stopped the Hollywood Foreign Press Association. And so, when Raquel Welch won her first and only Golden Globe for Best Actress in a Motion Picture—Comedy or Musical, it was for her performance as Constance de Bonacieux in the rousing action-adventure.

More comedic was Welch’s visit to The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson leading up to that honor. Although her appearance March 5, 1974 was primarily designed to promote a March 8 CBS-TV special titled Really Raquel, she also talked briefly at one point about The Three Musketeers, which was released March 29.

At the time, The Tonight Show was still relatively new to the West Coast, having relocated from New York in 1972. Before Welch made her entrance as lead guest, Ed McMahon revealed to Johnny that he and the actress had been neighbors. “Weren’t you ever over there to borrow a cup of… anything?” Carson deadpanned, incredulous that he was unaware of this factoid and that Ed, after renting a home in the summer of 1972 from Sammy Davis Jr., had failed to spy Welch.

The actress looked every inch the movie star when she glided on to The Tonight Show stage wearing a low-cut knit dress and matching blazer. “You’re a treat for these tired old eyes,” Carson began. He then picked up on Ed’s neighbor revelation, asking if her home was on the Star Maps of the day.

“Yes, I am on the map,” Welch replied. “It’s kind of nice because it’s very reassuring in a way to know these fans are so interested in film personalities that they would like to come. And even just look at your house and your shrubs. That sometimes is rather embarrassing.”

“I’d love to see your shrubs,” Carson joked.

Remember, this is 1974, a time when a newfangled thing called “streaking” had just erupted on the national scene. That Koxville, Tenn. phenomenon was one of the topics of Johnny’s monologue that night, along with the price of a U.S. postage stamp having recently gone up to 10 cents.

“I’m sorry for that,” Carson added about the shrubs joke. “Any opening at all, I jump right in.”

“Uh oh,” Welch chuckled as the studio audience reacted to the second remark. To which Carson interjected: “Now wait a minute. Now look… You folks are reading far more than I intended.”

During Welch’s charming, articulate, dazzling segments, there are several other funny Carson lines. “You looked smashing in that,” he noted about One Million Years B.C. “Boy, if you [meaning he] wanted to live a million years ago, that would have been the way to live.” And after Welch left, Carson mused to McMahon, almost in disbelief: “Just the average girl who lives next door.”

Everyone else on the show that night was also closely connected in real life. Second guest Glen Campbell had played Carson in a 1973 celebrity pro-am tennis tournament in La Costa, Calif.; third and final guest Mervyn LeRoy had sold his house in Beverly Hills to Joanne and Johnny; and band leader Doc Severinsen had been the marshal in that year’s Mardi Gras parade in New Orleans, an event that also featured Campbell.

Finally, to go along with Welch’s imminent Globe nomination, there was plenty more HFPA shine on the couch that night. Campbell earned a pair of Globe nominations for the year 1969, losing on the True Grit/Most Promising Newcomer—Male front to Midnight Cowboy’s Jon Voight and to Dan Dailey for Best Actor – Comedy or Musical. LeRoy meanwhile owned the prestigious Cecil B. DeMille honor for 1957 and had subsequently lost out to Lawrence of Arabia’s David Lean for Best Director of 1962. He was nominated by the HFPA for his direction of the Natalie WoodRosalind Russell biopic Gypsy.