WILMINGTON, N.C. -- 'Growing Pains' star Julie McCullough surrendered her Azalea Festival crown because of protests over her nude appearances in Playboy magazine.
'She was very disappointed,' William H. Cameron, president of the 42-year-old festival, said Tuesday.
'She was looking forward to this. She had gone out and bought clothes in preparation for it. She is the only person more disappointed than I am.'
McCullough, who plays Julie Costello on the ABC sitcom, thought it was best for the event if she did not participate, Cameron said.
McCullough, who lived with her father, a former Marine, at nearby Camp Lejeune for several years, was Playboy's playmate of the month in February 1986, its February 1985 covergirl and also appeared in a 'Girls of Texas' photo layout in the magazine.
The Wilmington Star published McCullough's foldout Saturday with news copy covering most of her body.
Mayor Donald Betz said Monday he had received about 25 requests to remove McCullough. Much of the opposition came from Southern Baptists.
'The Azalea Festival is sort of like Mother's Day,' said the Rev. J. Edwin Bullock, director of the Wilmington Baptist Association. 'It's a family event and this kind of thing is not in keeping with that.
'We hope this sends a positive message,' Bullock said after McCullough dropped out. 'We had great confidence in our people who had put together the festival over the years. I think this was unintentional and it was obvious they regretted it from the beginning.'
Southern Baptists had mounted a letter camaign to have McCullough removed, Bullock said.
McCullough could not be reached for comment.
The event, which runs for four days beginning April 13, is the city's major tourist attraction.