British Comedienne Judy Carne Dies: Free-Spirited ‘Laugh-In’ Star Was 76

By Ross A. Lincoln, Jeremy Gerard

UPDATE Tuesday morning with more information throughout.

Carne, the gamine actress who became famous as “the sock-it-to-me-girl” on Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In died Thursday at age 76 following a brief hospital stay where she was being treated for pneumonia. The Telegraph first reported the news.

Judy CarneBorn Joyce Audrey Botterill in Northampton, England in 1939, she began her acting career on  television, making her debut in 1956 on The First Day Of Spring. She would go on to appear in Danger Man in 1961, among other shows, before moving to the U.S. She soon had starring roles on several short-lived shows of the decade, including the sitcom Fair Exchange, and the Baileys Of Balboa. She also made guest appearances on shows ranging from the Westerns Bonanza and Gunsmoke to sitcoms including Gidget and I Dream Of Jeannie and the James Bond-style The Man From U.N.C.L.E.

It was as a member of the original Laugh-In company beginning in 1968, however, that she enjoyed her greatest fame as the often skimpily clad girl who, whenever she said the words “sock it to me,” would be doused with water, dropped through a trap door or otherwise pranked. Carne was a regular for the show’s first two seasons, and occasionally in its third, before declaring the weekly humiliations “a big, bloody bore” and departing for good. (Goldie Hawn, Carne’s giggly but usually less-wet co-star from the original Laugh-In cast, fared considerably better upon her departure.)

After leaving Laugh-In, Carne became a show regular in Las Vegas and on the night club circuit, while living a free-spirited life that included a relationship with Aerosmith’s Joe Perry  recounted in his 2014 memoir Rocks. In 1970, Carne starred in a Broadway revival of The Boy Friend, playing the ingenue role of Polly originated by Julie Andrews in the 1954 premiere. In the New York Times, Clive Barnes wrote that Carne “seems a very pleasant girl and sings and acts as if at a school concert given by Cheltenham Ladies College, which is precisely right.”

Judy CarneShe also endured a long run of personal difficulties — including a near-fatal car crash that left her with a broken neck — that sidelined and eventually ended her acting career, including a struggle with drug addiction she would later detail in her 1985 autobiography, Laughing On The Outside, Crying On The Inside: The Bittersweet Saga Of The Sock-It-To-Me Girl. Following a string of legal problems related to that struggle, she would eventually return to England, where, after overcoming her addictions, she reportedly lived a quiet life and was well liked by her neighbors.

She was married twice: first to actor Burt Reynolds, from 1963 to 1965, and second to Robert Bergmann, for 6 months in 1970. She leaves no immediate survivors.

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