As spirited and struggling newlyweds, the sugar and spice of Judy and Peter's personal chemistry actually triggers their captivating TV cavorting. The big brass at Screen Gems (they produce the swinging show) were the first to recognize the plus ingredient. Studio production head, Jackie Cooper (the immortal "Skippy"), and Harry Ackerman, executive-producer, refer to their young stars as "made to order" for their popular series.
Why are Peter and Judy so special, as compared to the twenty-odd couples who also were considered?
For starters, each projects a natural honesty that comes shining through like gangbusters. It's a cliche, but they actually are so much like the personable people they portray; so much so, in fact, their honesty is self-imposed and they're brutally frank about themselves--and each other.
In the meantime, real-life couples making marital adjustments, identity with Judy and Peter's TV trials and tribulations. Such popular appeal results in voluminous fan mail and it helps the jubilant hierarchy to counter the rivalry in today's vast TV market. It also helps to compensate Peter and Judy for the hurly-burly of grinding out a segment every week.
"I adore Peter," enthuses dark-eyed, vivacious Judy, "but, dammit, he can be so thoughtless at times. I'd like to shake him until his teeth rattle. He doesn't always use sound judgment, and when he forgets to look at his wrist watch, it's usually when he's due on the set. Some of his cracks are unnecessary, I might add, especially when they serve to aggravate a situation. But as I said before, Peter is a darling and we do get along--when we're not rubbing each other the wrong way!'
Judy wasn't specific, but witnesses recall an incident that illustrates a typical happening on the set. There are dark and monotonous days on every TV series. Actors grow weary of being together week in and week out, long hours and undue pressures aggravate frayed nerves. Such a day started out for Judy--who is on a strict budget--when she discovered $40 had disappeared from her purse. Anything but a compulsive person--her loyalty compels her to refrain from making snap judgments. And the whole is, generous-hearted Judy was afraid to suspect anyone. Just the thought that it might be someone she liked was depressing.
Perhaps she should have kept her misgiving to herself, but it preyed on her mind. Finally, and without thinking, between scenes, Peter exploded: "Do we have to listen to this for the rest of the day!"
This time there was no salty comeback, and Judy struggled to hold back her tears. Typical of their familiar love-hate rapport, at the end of the day Peter walked over and put his arms around her. "I was wrong," he whispered, "and I want to apologize."
So that's how this particular incident ended. Then again--!
"I dig Judy all the way," explains ruggedly-handsome Peter, "and I've felt warm and close to her right from the start. But that doesn't mean I don't feel like belting her (this with a wink) when she throws her weight around. You know she only weighs 108 pounds soaking wet, but don't let those fragile looks deceive you. Judy's loaded with temperament and I have to cut her down to size now and then (a wide grin this time); otherwise, we wouldn't have our wonderfully-wild relationship.
"Because we always know, where we stand, there's no further antagonism between us--until the next round!"
Born Joyce Botterill in Northampton, England 27, 28, or 29 years ago (depending on which "official" biography you check!), Judy Carne was a product of the war years in Europe. Early school days were miserable for the wistful dreamer. A serious and weakening illness prompted her doctors to prescribe a take-it-easy future. Today, between ten-hour camera sessions, piquant Judy "takes it easy" by playing tennis, working out in a gym, dancing her nimble feet off to progressive jazz and driving her own motor bike at high speed. In her "spare" time, she tries out every recipe in the cook books she collects.
It was inevitable that Joyce, who became Judy, was destined for the world of make-believe. Her wise parents, engaged in war work, were aware their moody moppet was bursting at the seams with repressed emotions. So Judy took her first dancing lesson at the age of three, and at ten she attended a fame theatrical boarding school for intensive drama and musical training. There she remained until her sweet-sixteenth birthday, and then she got a message from her mature and intuitive heart. She was ready to cut out and, being Judy, wasted no time.
"I didn't know where I was going to land," says the talented bundle from Britain, "but experience is the greatest teacher of all and I wanted to be ready."
She started out by appearing in a West End review and a hectic year's tour in various musical shows. She became a regular on England's version of "Juke Box Jury" and eventually starred in her first musical. One short interview led to replacing Julie Andrews in "My Fair Lady" and there was a luke-warm movie role, followed by odd assignments and numerous hassles between Judy and her thespic god.
After landing in Hollywood, two local TV series went down the drain before she tested for "Love on a Rooftop."
In between the highs and lows, two years of "relatively happy" marriage to Burt Reynolds ended in the divorce court.
Work hadn't been too plentiful for devastated Judy, until she found herself making like the wife of an apprentice architect in a closet-size apartment on a San Francisco rooftop. Her fresh and uninhibited approach, in a sense, was for real; Judy felt like she was reliving a chapter in her own escolated life and, to coin a phrase a star was born for CBS-TV.
Stalwart, combustible Peter Deuel hails from Penfield, near Rochester, New York. He was born (in 1940) with a built-in bedside manner, as it were, for he was preceded by three generations of doctors. Such exposure automatically directed his planning, but his pulse raced happiest when he appeared in college plays.
It wasn't an easy decision, but his father advised Peter to go to New York and study drama. Thus he gained valuable experience, joined a repertory company, and toured with a group that produced public service shows. From a minor film role in the Philippines, to co-starring in the national road company of "Take Her, She's Mine," carefree Peter migrated to Hollywood and top roles in top TV shows. Within two years he was under contract to Screen Gems, with a running role in the "Gidget" series. The studio knew their charmer was ready for stardom and all they needed was the right vehicle. Peter got it on a silver platter.
"But I still had to make a test," recalls the eligible bachelor, "and I wanted the part so badly, I was jumpy as a cat. Judy sensed my jitters and she knocked herself out to help me. That's the great thing about actors--they stand by each other."
Those who know Peter refer to him fondly as an original in many ways, "but Joe-Average can identify with him." He's serious about his work, they say, but when the swinger swings, "he acts like a small boy on Saturday night. He's very likable but teachable, and being so healthy and enthusiastic, he can create a wrong impression and not know it."
Peter goes for girls in a big way, preferring those who are older and wiser than the typically-female-playing-games bit. He drives a jeep, a motorcycle, and has the smoothest pad in town!
As everyone knows, Peter's and Judy's verbal jousts are generously sprinkled with pepper. Salty words come natural to them in trying to make a point, and even their cast and crew believe they aren't simply used to create shock!
Strangers visiting the set create a problem. Official hints to watch their language at such times takes effect--for awhile!
Along their sprightly way, Judy and Peter have shared off-screen dates. Currently, each is searching in opposite directions. Judy, who lives alone and loathes it, is positive she'll never marry another actor. Peter proclaims he isn't ready to settle down yet--"not when there are so many girls, weekends, places to go and things to see and do."
That's what these two delightful unpredictables say today. Tune in tomorrow and--who knows--you may be surprised!
Back to Articles List