Today is the birthday of Judy Carne (b . Joyce Botterill, 1939-2015). A native of Northampton, England, she had been acting on television in the U.S. a few years when the British Invasion hit in 1964, creating a vogue for all things evocative of swinging, mod London. (I think of Davy Jones as another tv beneficiary of this trend). After years playing bit roles on shows like The Man from U.N.C.L.E. and I Spy, in 1968 Carne was cast on Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In where her 15 seconds of fame (stretched out over several years) consisted of go-go dancing, saying “Sock it to me!” and getting doused with a bucket of water. This sounds like less than it was. Carne was adorable and funny; one sympathizes with her and a character emerged from the bit. She sort of seemed like the Charlie Brown of the Laugh-In cast. And “Sock it to me” became a national catch-phrase. However, the tale of what happened after Laugh-In isn’t pretty. You can read about it here. (Sidenote: she was married several times; the first was to Burt Reynolds, 1963-65).
From the highest (though briefest) heights of fame, Carne eventually wound up back in Northampton, which is where she died in 2015. You can read about it in the Northampton Herald & Post here.And here is the report in Variety. And here is the New York Times.
To find out about the history of vaudeville and tv variety, consult No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous