"From Raquel with Love," ABC's Raquel Welch special tomorrow night at 8 on Channel 7, should have been called, "From Raquel, Without Talent." It's always something of a pleasure to behold the awesome Ms. Welch, but when she moves around too much, you worry that she might break.
Age can hardly be said to have withered her, but healthy a specimen though she may be, it's her ego that's in true fighting form. This show is a chutzpah tour de force. The hairdressers, costumers and the merry men in the chorus do all the work, but in every number the camera zooms in on Raquel, usually all the way in until her face fills the screen.
Mickey Rooney and James Coco are humiliated into the feeble continuity, a paltry plotline about Raquel looking for a simply swell New York apartment; Welch gets co-author credit for that. When the odyssey ends, she finds herself not in an apartment but a theater, where she tells a suddenly materializing audience, "Here's where I belong -- wherever there's a stage and bright lights and the magic of, well, YOU!"
After that noblesse oblige, the kind of baloney nobody should be expected to swallow anymore, Welch gets a programmed standing ovation! Small surprise then that the credits tell us this session at the mirror comes from "Raquel Welch Productions Inc.," copyright Raquel Welch. It's the vanity press circa 1980.
The hour has one highlight, a Tone Charmoli production number that revives a wonderful rouser by the Gershwins, "Heaven on Earth," from their 1926 musical "Oh, Kay!" Welch sings this splendid pip (which can be heard on the Milchael Tilson-Thomas "Gershwin on Broadway" album) while leading a high school band through Central Park. And for just a moment, she's a living doll.