by Steve Nadel; TV Photo Story, April 1967
Judy Carne and Peter Deuel smile and smile for the cameras. But what’s going on backstage? If you’ve been watching TV’s Love on a Rooftop — and it appears that most viewers have made the show one of their favorites — you know that David and Julie Willis are as much in love with each other as two people could possibly be — regardless of the typical newlywed problems that often seem to threaten their bliss.
The Rooftop stars, Peter Deuel and Judy Carne, are two of the most likeable people you would ever want to meet — providing that you make their acquaintance separately and preferably far from their love-nest studio set. You guessed it — these lovebirds are less than Bill ‘n Coo when the cameras aren’t rolling.
Says one studio exec: “Peter and Judy are fine performers and they’ve helped to make the show the hit that it is. And they’re fine people — it’s just that they don’t get along well together. And there isn’t anything strange about that, not in Hollywood.
“Now I don’t wish to imply that they hate each other. That isn’t true — they just don’t get along very well together. In fact, you might say that they act more like married people when they aren’t in front of the cameras — they’re always fighting.”
Our reaction was the same as yours probably is now — we didn’t believe it either! So we went to the studio to find out. There we found Judy and Peter busy rehearsing a scene — it was the final run through before putting it on film. Peter had just returned from wardrobe where he had to change his shirt and Judy was beside herself with anger.
“What took so long?” she demanded. “I’ve been roasting under these lights waiting for you — although I’m aware that you couldn’t care less.”
“You aren’t glued to that chair,” Peter got back at her, “you could have moved.” Their retorts became more colorful and producer-director, E. W. Swackhamer, joined in as referee in the middle of Peter’s, “So help me, Swack, someday I’m gonna belt her.” Everyone settled down to a sudden, welcome silence as Judy and Peter took their cues and the cameras started to film a breakfast scene between David and Julie — the menu was strictly one of kisses and hugs. They were so convincing that you forgot — or wanted to forget what had just gone before. But the magic of acting didn’t last for long. The scene was finished and they both quickly snapped back to reality.
The two were just about to go into another discussion on scene-stealing when they were interrupted by an announcement that Judy was finished for the day and could leave.
“Don’t work too hard, Peter,” she said, giving him a goodnight kiss. “See you in the morning, like it or not.”
While Peter remained on the set to continue working on another scene, we joined Judy in her dressing room for a few minutes. “Is it a serious or friendly rivalry between you and Peter?” was our first question. It was right to the point, but there just wasn’t time to work up to this rather personal question in any other way.
“Peter and I have a love-hate relationship,” she said. “We may use some strong language on the set, but at least we’re honest with each other. In a way it’s helped keep a working relationship between us.
“Peter’s really nice, but just because two people have to work together doesn’t mean they have to love each other or to be good friends for that matter. We’re both actors and that hasn’t helped our friendship any. There are always a lot of tensions around here and I quickly become irritable. I’ve been told I have a temperament, but I don’t fly off the handle for absolutely no reason.
“For one thing, I think a lot of our tangles could be avoided if Peter wasn’t given to being late — it seems I’m always kept waiting because of him. Outwardly, I am brash and confident, but underneath I am really insecure and scared. I think many performers are like that. I feel actors and actresses shouldn’t spend too much time together. Each is so involved with himself that there isn’t room for the other. They always finds themselves competing with each other.”
Judy told us that since her divorce from Burt Reynolds, she has worked hard to organize her life. She tries her best to avoid any emotional problems, especially when romance is involved. She becomes furious when she reads stories that claim there is a romance brewing between her and Peter. After her divorce, she tried to straighten out her emotions by visiting an analyst, but quit after three months because, “I began to dread our sessions so much that the anxiety I would build up the night before caused me more distress than my basic problem.”
In parting, Judy said, “All I want is to be a good actress. I can’t afford any involvements. Peter and I understand each other as performers. We both want the show to make it big. Isn’t that all that matters?”
Later, in talking with Peter, we found out that he’s a completely different personality from Judy. They’re exact opposites, in fact. Where Judy is tense, Peter is more relaxed, easy going. “I think that’s the basic problem between us. I suppose there’s nothing more frustrating for a well-organized, schedule-conscious person like Judy than to come up against an all-around mess of loose ends like me. I tease her a lot about her temper, maybe too much.
“But I will say this, her temper isn’t the obnoxious kind. We have some pretty spicy words for each other, but she fights at a man’s level and we never leave the set at night bearing grudges. Of course, I might add that we rarely leave the set together.
“Regardless of what our personal feelings are for each other, we do work well together. I think being complete opposites helps us get into our respective roles. After all, David and Julie don’t have a great deal in common except their love for each other. They have different backgrounds. As newlyweds, they’re still getting to know each other, learning how to cope with their problems, etc. I guess Judy and I are in much the same kind of situation. Maybe someday we’ll find out that we really do like each other — or that we can’t stand each other completely.
“I’ll say this much,” Peter added with a grin, “there are never any dull moments around here.”
So there’s the story on your favorite TV newlyweds. Those of you who were curious to know whether or not the romance will carry over into their private lives can give up any such hope. Judy’s and Peter’s love for each other is restricted — to that rooftop!