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'Perfect Stranger' Tells How She Risked Neck
(and other body parts) as a Real-Life Charlie's Angel

By Lorraine Tilden

Perfect Strangers star Rebeca Arthur sharpened her acting skills -- by working undercover as a real-life Charlie's Angel.

Looking for thrills -- and money -- the 25-year-old blonde, who plays Bronson Pinchot's stewardess-girl-friend, Mary Anne, on the ABC sitcom, turned to detective work on a lark.

She answered a classified ad that read: "Wanted: Real Life Charlie's Angels."

Rebeca was an instant success with New York's J.M. Martin Investigations.  But the experience provided some harrowing moments.

"When I worked undercover at a medical facility, posing as a patient, I had to go into the hospital for tests," Rebeca says.  "In the middle of the night, hospital workers told me I was scheduled for gall bladder surgery in the morning.  I just got up, got dressed and left.  At 20, I needed all the parts I was born with!"

Another time, while on a yacht in the Bahamas, the man she was investigating started falling for her and making advances.  The investigation was heating up, too -- to the point where Rebeca feared staying on board.  "My boss told me to jump off the yacht and swim," she says.  "I can't swim, but, thank goodness, I float really well!

"I had no large degree of special training," she adds.  "One of the other girls was great in karate, and I knew how to handle firearms, but I never had to use a gun.

"I'd rather talk myself out of those situations, or I'd go to the ladies' room -- and never return."

While searching for teenage runaways, Rebeca spent a lot of time undercover as a high-school student.  She also tailed philandering spouses and ferreted out credit risks.

Rebeca quit her private-investigator job -- "It was great acting experience," she says -- when she landed several roles on the daytime soap, Search for Tomorrow.

She says she enjoys Perfect Strangers, in which she shares many funny scenes with co-stars Mark Linn-Baker and Pinchot.

"The silliest scene was when the characters were at a ski lodge and there was mistletoe over the door," she says.  (Editor's note - Rebeca was confusing the Christmas episode with the skiing episode, probably because she was dressed for a ski trip in the Christmas episode as well.)

"Bronson's going to kiss me and I'm holding him in a back bend, and he's much larger than I am.  We have to hold for a longer time than you would anywhere but in front of a camera and, all of a sudden, boom!

"We're on the floor and I'm in a ski suit that's so tight, I thought they'd have to bring a crane to hook me from the back and lift me straight up.  I couldn't bend.

"Now it never fails," she adds, "that whenever Bronson and I kiss, we start laughing."

Off the set, the zany actress' constant companion is a teacup poodle who travels everywhere with her in a tote bag.

"I named her Emmy," Rebeca says, "just in case I never get one of those other ones!"