Star News
March 25, 1989

Azalea Queen Named to Replace McCullough
By Ben Steelman
Entertainment Writer 

"No surprises" are expected from actress Rebeca Arthur as 1989 Azalea Queen, officials of the N.C. Azalea Festival said Friday.

Ms. Arthur -- who plays the dizzy stewardess Mary Anne on ABC's comedy Perfect Strangers -- will replace Julie McCullough as Queen Azalea XLII, festival President Bill Cameron said.

"I've talked with Rebeca, she's very excited to be coming, and we're very glad to have her," Cameron said Friday in a press conference at the Azalea Festival office in Long Leaf Mall.

Ms. Arthur, who also performed on Guiding Light and Search for Tomorrow, had been among the women originally considered for the crown, Cameron said.  That was one reason she could be chosen so quickly, he added.

Festival officials formally dropped Ms. McCullough as Queen Tuesday, after public outcry over her past as a Playboy centerfold.

Asked if Ms. Arthur had any similar "surprises" in her background, Cameron grinned and said, "No surprises.  I hope not."

Cameron told reporters he had briefed the actress on the incident.  "She's a professional," he said, "and won't have to be worried about what's history."

A Maryland native, Ms. Arthur studied dance and theater as the University of Maryland.

In addition to her soap opera roles, she has appeared on episodes of Remington Steele and Newhart, on a Rodney Dangerfield television special and in the movie About Last Night.

She joined the cast of Perfect Strangers in 1986 as one of the two next-door neighbors of Larry (played by Mark Linn-Baker.)  Her character, Mary Anne, also dates Larry's off-beat, foreign-born cousin Balki (Bronson Pinchot.)

Cameron said Ms. Arthur is a friend of last year's Azalea Queen, Kim Morgan Greene, and that she had been encouraged by Ms. Greene's descriptions of the festival.

As queen, Ms. Arthur will be crowned at the April 15 Coronation Pageant, featuring Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons.  She will also appear at festival events, including the April 14 Azalea Variety Show at Legion Stadium and the April 15 Azalea Parade.

Her formal arrival, aboard the paddle-wheeler Henrietta II, is scheduled for 10:15 a.m. April 13 in Riverfront Park.