Wednesday 6 May 2020

Dancing For Laughs

One of the segments in the early part of each week’s Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In was the cocktail party, where some of the players would appear as various characters and spout one-liners in between groovy music bridges.

Not only did Arte Johnson and Ruth Buzzi show up, so did a number of anonymous women who weren’t part of the cast but would take part in the dialogue (Dick Martin always seemed to have one hanging around him).

It appears either NBC or executive producer George Schlatter’s office sent out a publicity package about them to newspapers for entertainment section fodder. The San Mateo Times of February 6, 1971 printed it, among others. (One paper gave the story a byline and moved the dateline to New York).

One of the dancers should be familiar to game show fans because, about a year later, she ended up on The New Price is Right. Janice Pennington stayed on the show until 2000.

Here's how—
Like to join 'Laugh-In' players?

HOLLYWOOD — There’s more than one way to become a member of a zany show such as "Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In," and some of the dancers seen in its cocktail party segments prove the point.
One day earlier this season, for example, some behind-the-scenes executives of the show (colorcast Mondays, 8-9 p.m.) lunched at a Burbank, Calif., restaurant located between their offices and the Warner Bros. studios. They noticed that their hostess, an attractive young lady with long, red hair, had an unusual walk. She explained it was the result of her years as a ballet dancer.
"Oh, a dancer," came the response, "you ought to try for a cocktail party spot on 'Laugh-In'." She did — and now the girl, Pat Doty, from La Jolla, Calif., is in the program’s party scenes.
On another occasion, a brown-skinned beauty with long, black hair walked into the "Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In" office to retrieve some photos of herself, left in the hopes they would win her an audition. They didn’t. But her visit did. She was spotted and has worked in about half of the party scenes presented since September. She’s Betty Carr, a full-blooded Cherokee whose Indian name, Gilaki, means "brown dove." Born in Asbury, Mo. (population: 140), she moved to California with heir family, graduated from San Diego State College and has a Masters Degree in Theatre Arts. She teaches educational theatre.
For Millie Knight, who gives the impression of being Eartha Kitt’s kid sister, a door literally opened at NBC’s Burbank headquarters — the studio door off the hallway separating Studio 4 (home base for "Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In") from its soundstage twin, Studio 2 (site of "The Don Knotts Show"). One day, during a break in the Knotts show, the cast scattered. One dancer followed the sound of throbbing music, ventured into Studio 4 and watched a cocktail party segment. She dug the scene and eventually auditioned. That’s how Miss Knight, a native of New Orleans who has never had a dance lesson, became a member of the Studio 4 cocktail party set.
Ar for the other girls — there’s Jeannine Barrett, 6-feet-l, a former Miss California and before that a 4H Club girl; Sandahl Bergman, a long-legged Swedish girl who was named by her mother after the heroine of a novel; Connie Kreski, Playboy Magazine’s 1969 Playmate of the Year; Janice Pennington, next April’s Playmate for the same magazine. There’s baby-faced actress Lisa Moore; Mexico City socialite Carol Richards; Sandra Ego, an actress of American Indian extraction who was born in New Mexico.
Although the avenues which led to "Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In" may be different for these girls, they all have a ball at television’s unique cocktail party.


  1. Remember " The Cocktail Party " sequences very well. " Wanna go to the party Dick?..Sure, Hey you're all invited, too ". I have some old VHS tapes of the 30 minute Lorimar syndicated " Laugh-Ins " from " Nick at Nite " circa 1988. I will have to dust them off and look for some of these ladies. I think a lot of the full hour shows are also up on streaming. I also used to catch " The Don Knotts " show on NBC. He was pretty fresh off of " Andy Griffith " and it was good seeing him do sketch comedy again. Thinking back to Steve Allen.

  2. So as to avoid lamentations, a shout-out to Sandahl Bergman (Conan the Barbarian, 1982).

  3. For the record, Janice Pennington’s centerfold was in the May 1971 Playboy.

  4. Dan Rowan's daughter Mary danced on this show around this time as well.

  5. There's no mention of my mother, Terri Alexander, who was a Party Scene dancer on the show.

  6. Sitting here chatting with Pat Doty, she's telling me the season was around 68 or 69?

    1. Could be, Anon. The article is from 1971 but I don't know when the photo with the story was taken.