After graduating from Pacelli High School, Donna D’Errico traveled from Columbus, Georgia, to California to pursue a career in modeling. But it was another dream—one rooted in childhood influences, Catholicism, and a drive for adventure—that has come to shape her path as a Playmate-cum-modern-day Gertrude Bell.
Donna got her Playboy break in September 1995 when the cherubic-faced beauty was named Playmate of the Month. The following year she began working in television, where she went on to star as Donna Marco in Baywatch—a show listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the most widely watched show of all time.
The Playmate famously married Mötley Crüe bassist and songwriter Nikki Sixx in 1997 and continued to appear on television and in film. After divorcing from Sixx in 2006, Donna was a regular on the 2006 reality show Celebrity Paranormal Project, in which celebs explore around-the-world locales believed to be haunted. Of all of her TV and film work, it is this project that so brightly signaled her latest career turn: as an explorer and documentarian.
A practicing Catholic who told Fox News she attends mass weekly and prays the Rosary daily, Donna says she’s long wondered what became of Noah’s Ark. She began wondering after seeing a documentary in third grade about one explorer’s search for the vessel. An MRSA infection threatened her life in 2010, and afterwards she felt inspired to chase her childhood dream and search for the arc herself.
Since then she has explored Mount Ararat in Eastern Turkey—a remote destination in which some believe the arc may remain. Traversing the mountain is difficult. Rockslides and avalanches are common, and it’s home to both wolves and Kurdish rebels. In winter months the weather is so nasty that blizzards have frozen explorers to death. Donna has risked life and limb to climb it over multiple expeditions, even returning to the mountain after suffering a brutal fall on Mt. Ararat in which she sustained deep cuts and bruises on her face.
In July 2013 Donna raised more than $10,000 on Kickstarter to help fund another search on the mountain, this time with videographers in tow to make a documentary about exploring in the region and her search for a biblical treasure. As a devout Catholic posing for Playboy and as an explorer searching for storied treasure, Donna has proved herself a risk-taker and independent thinker who follows her heart.