I think it’s more often than not better to have some separation between the elbow and body during the preparation phase. This allows for a little more acceleration during the swing, a larger swing radius which in turn allows us a better chance to hit in front of our body more often than not and finally, more power. It could be beneficial to work on a higher preparation if you find yourself to be late or jammed quite often. If it’s already a weapon at your level, then go with it. It could take awhile before you feel the same comfort and control with a more separated elbow. As has been mentioned, grip choice will also play a role in how bent your arm looks at certain checkpoints throughout he swing. I have a separated elbow during preparation but my arm does bend to a certain extent prior to contact, and so do many pros. An elbow that’s literally connected to the body however, isn’t the most ideal thing. It’s up to you. One of the better students I coach does this as well and I’ve only touched on it maybe 3 times out of 100+ sessions.
I don't know how 1 foot is considered close. The distance from my armpit to my elbow is 1 ft, meaning the maximum distance my elbow can have to my body is 1 ft.
If we're talking on contact, any distance is fine. If we're talking about on the takeback, air the armpit out. Most players with a good forehand have the elbow elevated and away from the body to a decent degree on the takeback. But again, on contact, any distance from elbow to body is fine as long as you're consistent with it. Hell, even if you aren't consistent it's fine so long as the overall motion is good.
If you're happy with the level you're at, you're fine. If you want to get to the next level and beyond, you will need to learn more separation. A lot of high school players, even relatively good high school players depending on the area, have their elbows tucked in pretty close on the forehand. However, you will rarely see any decent collegiate players like that, and it's nearly impossible to find anybody above the collegiate level with that form.