For Judy Carne, Laugh-In’s endearing sock-it-to-me girl, that bit about every silver lining having a cloud is no longer a joke. After leaving the classic NBC series in 1969, she found “everyone wanted me to sock it to them everywhere I went. The role that made me nearly destroyed me.” Indeed, eight years of strawhat, dinner theater and TV guest shots have done little to liberate her from the hapless cockney in her past. For her, regrettably, life continues to imitate shtik. In the past four months she has been busted three times—on raps ranging from drug possession to auto theft. “We expect all charges to be dropped,” says Carne, 38. “But it’s painful that this has happened at a time when I’ve been trying to reestablish myself. Until I’m cleared, there is no chance of getting a job.”
Nor, it seems, of bringing harmony to an unsettled private life. Implicated in Carne’s last two arrests is Robert Bergmann, 31, an unemployed hanger-on she calls “very bright—he’s been an assistant producer, done modeling and handled stocks.” Robert was Judy’s second husband for six months in 1970. (Her first, from 1963 to 1965: Burt Reynolds.) A year ago Bergmann called her—”out of the blue,” she says—and they have been together almost constantly, if at times acrimoniously, since. “We helped each other,” says Carne. “We went to a dance class, and to a group therapy class where you shout your angers.” Judy had also done “tons of therapy” earlier at the urging of pal Goldie Hawn.
Then, in November, while Bergmann was on the road with her in Cincinnati, police took Carne off after a performance of the comedy Move Over, Mrs. Markham. She was charged with possession of heroin and a forged prescription for Quaaludes, which she insists was written by her physician. The arresting officers, she claims, forced her to strip for a search in her room, then led her away. “You could see the gleam in their eyes,” she says bitterly. “They had a celebrity and they meant to make the most of it.”
Her second arrest came last month, when police were called to her West Hollywood home to calm a furious argument between her and Bergmann. During a search, the cops turned up some marijuana—and a white powder that turned out to be lactose, a substance sometimes used in cutting cocaine. The latter charge in that case was dropped, but a week later she was booked again. This time Carne was in Santa Monica for a rock concert when she was called to bail a friend out of jail. Leaving, she ran into Bergmann, who suggested, “quite civilly,” she recalls, that he drive her to the jail in his car. Bergmann ran two red lights—”just as they were turning,” she says—and suddenly the police were upon them. “They pulled us out,” she maintains, “and made us kneel with cocked shotguns at our heads.” Both were charged with possession of drugs and auto theft, with arraignment scheduled for this week. Carne insists that Bergmann has prescriptions for codeine and Valium, and that she knew nothing of a mysterious white substance that was found in her purse. The car, she contends, was duly and documentably rented.
Recently, according to Carne, she has frequently phoned ex-husband Reynolds for help, but he hasn’t called back. “At least he could have helped with the legal fees,” she says. “After all, I supported him when he was out of work, and I never asked for alimony.” Her trial in Ohio is scheduled for May, and she realizes her career is in jeopardy. If there is any consolation, it may be her renewed relationship with Bergmann (“I feel love for him, despite all that’s happened”) and a sense of self-worth that has grown with misfortune. “I always seem drawn to people who need help,” she says sadly, “and I’ve needed help too. I’ve had to learn to love myself.”