By Alan Carter
October 20, 1995 at 04:00 AM EDT

As sexy brain surgeon Maria Santos, All My Children‘s Eva LaRue is known for wearing black lingerie and miniskirts under her lab coat. Yet she was picked for the wholesome starring role in CBS’ A Dream Is a Wish Your Heart Makes: The Annette Funicello Story (Oct. 22). ”I thought, No way! I look nothing like her,” says LaRue, 29. ”But I guess I have this blank-canvas face, no features that stand out, so you can make me up to look like anyone. Actually, I’ve always thought I’d be perfect for the Natalie Wood story.” Since LaRue is too young to remember the Mouseketeer’s heyday, she had to do ”quite a bit of homework. I had never seen the beach movies.” The best research was gleaned from meeting Funicello, 52, who is now coping with multiple sclerosis. ”You don’t pity her,” says LaRue. ”She has that light that shines from inside.”

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