Kansas City Bomber is a unique movie. It is a sports movie that centers around a female athlete in the rough and tumble world of Roller Derby. Roller Derby, for those who don’t remember, was a team race on roller skates around a circular track that was as violent as the WWF. Players kicked, tripped and punched each other in a free-for-all mad dash on wheels. Raquel Welch plays K.C. Carr. In 1972 when this movie was released Welch was, along with Barbra Streisand and Jane Fonda, one of the biggest female box office stars in the world. She also produced this movie.
Raquel Welch broke her wrist doing some of her own stunts, in this movie where action is all-important, and plot non-existent. In 1972, by her own admission, Raquel Welch was a sex goddess who hasn’t turned serious actress — and Kansas City Bomber changed nothing. Raquel said in an interview at the time, that when she was growing up in La Jolla, CA, she would sometimes strap on a pair of skates and clank all the way from her porch to her garage and back. When she was 7, she put the skates away and didn’t skate again until a year ago when she began readying herself for Kansas City Bomber.
Raquel reported to a banked oval track built for her on a Hollywood lot, where she skated 5 hours a day for 3 months. Her tutor was famous skater Paul Rupert who skated along beside her, coaching her and teaching her the basics of 5 strides on the banked track, how to take falls (fall backwards — if you fall forwards you could break a wrist), and everything else she needed to know.
Here are some amazing behind the scenes photographs of Kansas City Bomber by Bill Eppridge for LIFE magazine.
(Photos: Bill Eppridge/LIFE photo archive)