Delores Del Rio, 77, the aristocratic Latin beauty and former Hollywood leading lady whose career spanned 50 years, died April 11 at her home here. A spokesman for the Orange County coroner's office said she died of natural causes but did not disclose the cause of her death.
Miss Del Rio began her career as a dancer in a 1925 silent film. A Hollywood director saw her dancing at a party and offered her a role in "Joanna." It was a modest film debut, with much of her performance edited out.
But success was not far away. She achieved stardom in such films as "High Stepper" (1926), "Ramona" (1928), "Bird of Paradise" (1932), "Flying Down to Rio" (1933), "Madame Du Barry" (1941), "Portrait of Maria" (1945) and "Once Upon A Time" (1967).
She was born Lolita Dolores Martinez Asunsolo Lopez Negrette in Durango, Mexico. During the 1930s, she was named "most beautiful woman in Hollywood." She appeared regularly on lists of best-dressed women.
Her seemingly ageless beauty carried the auburn-haired actress over the gap from silent films--such as the classic 1927 movie, "What Price Glory?"--but built her a Hollywood image as a glamour queen that sent her fleeing back to her native Mexico for more dramatic parts.
In 1942, she went home and became the unchallenged queen of the Mexican movie industry, living in honored ease and luxury in Mexico City.
In 1960 she returned to Hollywood to portray Elvis Presley's American Indian mother in the western "Black Star." In the early 1970s, she made several appearances in the old "Marcus Welby M.D." television series. In 1978, she starred in "Children of Sanchez."
She was the recipient of four Arieles, Mexico's Academy Award, and a Quixote, the Spanish equivalent of an Academy Award.
Her marriages to Jamie Del Rio and Cedric Gibbons ended in divorce.
Survivors include her husband, Lewis Riley, whom she married in 1959. They maintained homes in both Coyocan, Mexico, and Newport Beach.