Judy Carne dies at 76; 'sock-it-to-me' girl on 'Laugh-in'

Judy Carne, the troubled English actress who shot to fame as the “sock it to me” girl on “Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In” in the late 1960s has died. She was 76.

The actress and 1960s personality died Sept. 3 at Northampton General Hospital in England, according to Eva Duffy, a hospital spokeswoman. The cause of death was not specified.

Carne also was known for her tumultuous 1963 marriage to Burt Reynolds, whom she claimed abused her in her 1985 autobiography, “Laughing on the Outside, Crying on the Inside: The Bittersweet Saga of the ‘Sock it to Me’ Girl.”

The book also expounded on her drug addiction and her many resulting brushes with the law, as well as a suicide attempt, a one-night stand with Steve McQueen, an alleged passed-up threesome with Warren Beatty and various other affairs with both men and women.

Although the peppy, red-haired actress was on “Laugh-In” for only two years (she left in the middle of the third season, complaining that it had become a bore), she made an indelible mark as the goofball fall girl who got doused with a bucket of water, bonked on the head or dropped through a trap door every time she uttered the anticipated punchline, “Sock it to me!”

But life was no laughing matter for Carne, who gained unwanted notoriety in the 1970s when she battled a heroin addiction and suffered a string of arrests on charges of — among other things — grand theft auto and possession of marijuana and methamphetamines.

In 1978, she broke her neck in a car accident while celebrating a recent acquittal for heroin possession.

Carne was born Joyce Audrey Botterill in Northampton, England, on April 27, 1939. Her parents ran a green grocery in Kingsthorpe. She was a petite and vivacious child who trained in music and dance and showed an early talent for both.

Carne made her television debut in 1956 in “The First Day of Spring,” and built up a respectable acting career in Britain. She engaged in a number of notable romances during this time, including with Vidal Sassoon, Stirling Moss and actor Anthony Newley.

She had the good fortune of moving to America in 1962, just in time for the pop-culture phenom known as the British Invasion. Her first introduction to American audiences was in the role of Heather Finch, a plucky British exchange student on the TV comedy “Fair Exchange.” Other roles included a regular turn on the 1964 sitcom “The Baileys of Balboa” and the lead on the 1966 romantic comedy series “Love on a Rooftop,” in which she played a San Francisco art student who falls in love with an architect.

After leaving “Laugh-In,” Carne appeared in smaller roles on a variety of TV series, talk shows and game shows, but never again enjoyed the level of popularity she reached in the late 1960s.

Her life calmed down after moving in the 1990s to the village of Pitsford, Northamptonshire, where she lived with her two dogs — in harmony with her neighbors and out of the headlines, according to the Northampton Herald & Post.

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