by Stephanie Pennington
Judy Carne was born Joyce Botterill on April 27th 1939 in Northhampton,
Northhamptonshire, England. At the age of six she performed in a local concert
and won the encouragement of her parents. She began dancing at her aunt's
dancing school then moved to the Pitt-Draffen academy of dance. When she was
nine she was accepted to the prestigious Bush-Davies Theatrical School for
Girls, in East Grinstead, England near London. An instructor there began
her Judy explaining Joyce wasn't a good professional name. At sixteen she
took her professional name Judy Carne. Carne comes from a character in the
play "Sister Bonaventure."
Her first television performance came in 1956
on an English T.V. program called "The First Day Of Spring." Her film debut
came in 1958 in "Jazzboat." She didn't have a speaking role on T.V. or in
a movie until 1958's T.V. show "Danger Man" known in the U.S. as "Secret Agent."
While still in London she became very good friends with people such as Sammy
Davis Jr. and Vidal Sassoon.
In 1962 producer Cy Howard brought her to Hollywood
to be in his new show called "Fair Exchange" where she was cast as Heather
Finch. The program was originally an hour, one of the first hour-long sitcoms.
The show was cancelled after only three months. However, due to the mail
that CBS received the show went back on the air. This time it was trimmed
to half an hour. The show again was canceled and the last episode aired
in September of 1963. It had only lasted a year.
While on a promotional tour for "Fair Exchange"
Judy met Burt Reynolds. After a six-month courtship the two were married,
June 28th 1963.
In 1964 she won the part of Barbara Wyntoon in the "Baileys of Balboa." The show was short-lived, not even surviving a season.
Also in 1964 she was cast as "a nameless broad" in the Julie Andrews movie
"The Americanization of Emily."
In 1965 she and Burt Reynolds divorced. She never asked
A few months later she met a young lady she met
named Ashley. The two saw each other for a few months.
In 1966 Judy auditioned for and won the lead role of Julie Willis in a
new sitcom called "Love On A Rooftop." She was paired with Peter Duel,
someone she knew when she did a one-episode stint on "Gidget." The two struck
up a long friendship.
When "Love On A Rooftop" was canceled Judy began looking
for other work. An old friend, Digby Wolfe, contacted her in 1967. He told
her about George Schlatter, a producer who with his co-producer, Ed Friendly
were creating a "Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In" she was interviewed and got
a part. Judy was told she would endure some really mean things leading to her
becoming "The Sock It To Me Girl." She was doused with water, shot out of
a cannon, hit in the head with a hammer and dropped through a trap door.
Her nights on the set of "Laugh-In" were always long.
It was not unusual for a rehearsal or taping to last until 2 or 3 in the
morning. On a particularly late night she went home to find her front gate
open. When she walked up to her house she found she had been burglarized.
All that remained were her T.V. set, a few pieces of furniture, and some
shredded up publicity photos. Henry Gibson, Ruth Buzzi, and Goldie Hawn showed
up to help her out afterwards. Henry even offered his paycheck to help her
out. She graciously refused.
In 1969 she made headlines when she went for a New
York Times interview at the prestigious 21 Club. She was unaware that they
had a policy that women could not wear pants. She was wearing a pantsuit.
When the maitre'd held his ground she found a way around it. She took off
her pants and checked them into the
coat check. Her jacket barely covered her. Time magazine ran the story
in its fashion section. The club changed its policy and people congratulated
Judy on her act of defiance.
On July 20th 1969 she performed "American Moon" on
the Ed Sullivan show. He accidentally introduced her as "Judy Crane."
In 1969 Judy decided to leave "Laugh-In." She wanted
to do other things so she didn't renew her contract. The regular cast members
threw her a going away party. George Schlatter blamed her for breaking up
In the days following "Laugh-In" she would hear people
yell "Sock it to me!" and she would instinctively duck, having had popcorn,
peanuts, water and beer all thrown at her.
Her first post-Laugh-In-job was in "Cabaret" playing
Sally Bowles. The production was off Broadway in a theater in Westbury,
Long Island. While in this production she was offered a part as a lead in
a revival of "The Boyfriend" on Broadway. She portrayed Polly.
On December 24th, 1969 she met Robert Bergmann. He
was 8 years her junior. In February of 1970 they began living together,
on May 3rd the two were married. However by June Judy began to mistrust
her husband. They separated in mid August. The divorce was finalized June
On August 4th 1970, "The Boyfriend" closed on Broadway.
She was set to perform in Las Vegas and had a few weeks break on her schedule.
She decided to go on tour. Her first stop was in Juarez, Mexico. The audience
threw things at her and shouted "Sock it to em senorita." When she opened
in Las Vegas her old friend Goldie Hawn was there. She also met a woman there
that she developed a long-term relationship with.
In 1971 she worked concerts in New York she made headlines
yet again when three men were arrested after a show where a brawl broke
out. She and her lady friend traveled to Mexico and then to Mardi Gras.
The two broke up when Judy returned to LA.
Upon her return to L.A. she guest starred in "Alias
Smith Jones" with Peter Duel. She met Berry K. Jr., an actor with whom she
began dating. She also pitched an idea for a new sitcom to Sheldon Leonard
("I Dream of Jeannie" et al.) It was called "Poor Judy" about a harried journalist.
Sheldon assigned a writer to it and a pilot was to be made.
In September of 1971 Judy was back on T.V. again. She was in a reunion
of "Laugh-In." In October she appeared on "the Tonight Show" which was being
hosted by Burt Reynolds. He had specially requested her. When she asked him
why he told her that she was the first person that popped into his head.
In late 1971 she filmed a T.V. movie called "Dead Men
Tell No Tales" and guest starred in the T.V. shows "Love American Style"
and "Cades County."
On January 1, 1972 she was called by Henry Gibson telling
her that her old friend Peter Duel had been found dead of a self-inflicted
gun shot wound. To further complicate things, all plans for "Poor Judy" had
been scrapped. On January 15th, 1972 she found she was $80,000 in debt. $65,000
of that was to go to the federal government for back taxes.
One of Judy's last T.V. appearances was on "Hollywood
Squares." The show was taped 5 times in one day. One time when they broke
for dinner, she had one too many cocktails. She came back and with
the hot lights and the fact that no questions were coming her way she began
to doze off. When she became the secret square that night she jumped awake.
The producer became upset and that was her last "Hollywood Squares" appearance.
As unemployment set in she became more and more depressed.
Then in July of 1974 came the sad news that her old friend Cass Elliot (of
The Mamas and The Papas) had died of a heart attack brought on by a sudden
She discovered that in order to pay the back taxes
she owed she would have to sell her house. It was the house she and Burt
Reynolds had bought.
She was contacted by Bob Guccione of Penthouse magazine.
He wanted her to pose with another woman, for $50,000, enough to allow her
to keep her house. So she sold her house and chose to keep her dignity and
her acting career alive.
Soon after she put her house on the market she was
cast as Marge West in the Spelling/Goldberg movie "Only With Married Men."
It would prove to be her final T.V. appearance for years. Shortly after filming
was over she again became addicted to drugs.
Judy got clean and started to tour with the Theater
Guild's national tour of "Absurd Person Singular." She got along with all
of her cast mates except Betsy von Furstenberg. When the show opened in Chicago
a lighting fixture came down from above the stage and landed in front of
Judy's feet. She ad-libbed briefly much to the dismay of Betsy von Furstenberg.
Betsy threw a drink in Judy's face knocking her wig loose and ruining her
makeup. Betsy continued to needle Judy. Becoming increasingly frustrated
Judy doused Betsy with water in the final scene of the play. The two fought
pausing only for three curtain calls. Betsy reported the incident to the
actor's equity who warned Judy that if it happened again her membership would
be suspended. Despite this she received many cards and letters supporting
In late 1975 she and Barry K jr. broke up and she became
addicted to drugs again. When she was offered a part in "Mary, Mary" in
1976, she went to clean out again this time at a Centaury City, CA. She borrowed
$500 from Burt Reynolds with the promise to use it for the center but instead
used it for more cocaine. She went on the road with "Mary, Mary" and maintained
her addiction. She and co-star David Watson were given glowing reviews. Despite
the reviews she fell farther into addiction. When she went into total withdrawal
a doctor gave her methadone with the understanding she would go into a treatment
program when the play finished for the year. She went into the state hospital
in Oklahoma under the name J.C. Reynolds (Judy Carne Reynolds- the name on
her green card.) In January 1977, she was invited by Burt to his dinner theater
in Florida to finish her run in "Mary, Mary."
In 1977 she met with her ex-husband Robert Bergmann.
In August 1977, she began a new play, called "Move Over Mrs. Markham." While
in Cincinnati the theater she was performing in gave her a two-bedroom apartment
to stay in. Robert stayed with her while visiting. She had a prescription
for sleep medication. She noticed a bottle of other medication that had
same doctor's name on it. When she confronted Robert about it she didn't
get a clear answer and he disappeared the next day. While exiting the stage
that same night that Robert left, Judy was confronted by two police officers.
She was read her rights, hand cuffed and taken to the local police station.
The police had a warrant for her arrest and she was being arrested for using
a forged prescription to obtain narcotics. It was a case of mistaken identity.
She was questioned by the police and the next day she posted bail and was
released. She was arraigned the following week. On February 13, 1978 she
refused to let Robert into her apartment. A neighbor called the police. When
the police arrived they let him go and began searching the apartment, they
found a white powdery substance and Judy was arrested and charged with possession.
Those charges were later dropped when it was discovered that the powdery
substance wasn't a drug. Another time she was riding with Robert when he
was pulled over for possessing a stolen vehicle. While searching the car
police found a joint in the ashtray and 3 Codeine pills in Robert's jacket.
As it turned out the man from Avis rent-a-car mistakenly reported the car
stolen. The charges again were dropped. Even though the last two charges
were dropped the media had done its damage.
On March 21st 1978 Judy became very ill. She already
had a kidney infection a result of being punched during the first arrest.
She was rushed to the hospital and released a few days later.
Her trial for the first arrest began on June 8th. On
June 10th she was acquitted for possession of heroine. The charge for a
false prescription was dropped.
On June the 16th 1978 Judy and Robert stopped to eat
near his mother's cottage in New Hope, PA to celebrate the verdict. He had
wine during dinner and through out the meal she could tell his speech was
getting slurred. When they were getting ready to leave she begged him to
let her drive. He said no and if she didn't get in the car he would leave
her there. She said a prayer and got in. She would've had no other way back
to his mother's house where she was staying. When Robert began driving erratically
she tried to grab the wheel or step on the brakes. Each time she did this
he would slap her across the face and send her into the passenger door.
He began speeding dangerously down the narrow country road. Judy saw a sharp
curve coming up, knowing they were going too fast to make the curve safely
she contemplated jumping from the vehicle. Robert tried to brake but it was
too late. His car crashed through the guardrail and plunged down a steep
hill. He was thrown out of the vehicle and away from danger. She was still
in the car and heading for a group of trees. As the car descended, Judy
curled into a ball. It wrapped around a telephone pole at the bottom and
she was thrown into the windshield, hitting it with the base of her neck.
She slipped in and out of consciousness as she was being rescued.
Judy had broken the C-2 vertebra in her neck, the part of the neck that
usually snaps when someone is hanged. She was lucky to be alive and the doctor
gave her a 50/50 chance of survival. She even joked with the doctor that
the accident was the "ultimate sock it to me." The doctors and nurses tested
her for paralysis. When none was detected she was fitted with a "halo," an
apparatus of steel rods, attached to a plaster body cast that rose up and
screwed into Judy's skull to align her neck and hips. She would need to be
in the halo for months.'
When she got to the hospital she was shocked and comforted
to find Sally Miller, Henry Gibson's sister as her nurse. However Robert
had told hospital officials that he and Judy were not divorced. The doctors
assumed he was next of kin and told him to contact her parents. He never
did, Judy's cousin heard it on the news and called them. When her father
arrived at the hospital he told the truth about Robert Bergmann and Robert
was barred from the hospital.
Judy was released from the hospital on July 17th 1978.
From there she went back home with her parents to England. After 5 more
months in the halo she was able to have it removed.
She returned to the United States in 1981 to sue Robert
for her medical expenses. She won a total of $95,000. $45,000 for lost wages
and $50,000 for pain and suffering. She reimbursed her father, who had paid
for her hospitalization. Her father passed away a short time later on April 1st
In the spring 1983, Judy attended a reunion party for
"Laugh-In," as it was being re-run in the United States. She stayed with Henry
Gibson and his family. The party was held at Chasen's and she reflected
on her life as "the sock it to me girl."
In 1984 she wrote a book about her life, Laughing On
The Outside, Crying On The Inside : The Bittersweet Saga of the Sock It To
Me Girl. Since the book was written she has been married two more times.
She was also in attendance for the televised 25th anniversary
of "Laugh-In" and a televised "Laugh-In" Christmas show both in 1993, where
she revealed she lives in her hometown of Northhampton, Northhamptonshire,
England. She still resides there today.