AHWATUKEE FOOTHILLS, ARIZONA--Acquanetta, who spent her early years as a model and B-movie actress nicknamed
"The Venezuelan Volcano," and her later years as a fixture of Phoenix's social scene, died here August
16 of Alzheimer's disease. She was 83. MSTies will recall her performance as the native girl in episode 208- LOST
Born Burnu Acquanetta in Cheyenne, Wyoming, to an Arapaho mother and a French-English-Cherokee father, she was
given up for adoption and raised as Mildred Davenport by adoptive parents in Norristown, Pa. After graduating high
school, her exotic good looks brought her to New York to become a model. As her career took off, she took back
part of her original name and, with the aid of helpful New York columnists, fabricated a South-of-the-Border background.
In 1942 she landed a contract at Universal Pictures, where she played a succession of jungle girls and exotic beauties.
She is perhaps best remembered for her role in "Tarzan and the Leopard Woman" (1946). Other films included
"Arabian Nights" (1942), "Captive Wild Woman" (1943) and "The Sword of Monte Cristo"
In the late 1950s, she married Los Angeles businessman Jack Ross and the two moved to the Phoenix area, where he
became a successful automobile dealer. She starred in radio and TV commercials for her husband's Lincoln-Mercury
dealership and became a socialite and philanthropist.
The couple donated money to help build a hospital in Mesa, Ariz., founded a theater in Scottsdale, Ariz., raised
money for the Phoenix Symphony and served as a member of the Arizona Press Club. They also founded Combined Charities
Inc., a foundation that allowed smaller charities to use the interest from its consolidated donations. Ross later
ran unsuccessfully for governor.
In 1974 she published a book of poetry called "The Audible Silence." The couple eventually divorced in
the 1980s, and among the property she gained in the settlement was the Mesa Grande ruins that scientists suspected
was an ancient Hohokam temple. She eventually sold the site to city of Mesa, after obtaining promises that it planned
to preserve the site as a museum.
She is survived by four children and seven grandchildren.