Lynda Carter: Super Hero & Wonder Woman
At 24 years old Lynda Carter was already an accomplished singer and Miss World USA titleholder when she decided to try her hand at acting. She had picked up some bit parts in TV shows like Nakia and Matt Helm, as well as a few B-movies. But she had almost exhausted her savings and was getting ready to return to her home state of Arizona when her manager informed her that she had landed the part of Wonder Woman for the new series.
Carter was well aware that her natural gifts had helped land her the part, and given that she would be parading around in the skimpiest of comic book outfits, she was warned by one of the show’s producers that women would be jealous of her. In a 2017 CBS News interview, she said she was determined not to let that happen. “They won’t be, because I am not playing her that way. I want women to want to be me, or be my best friend!” Indeed, Carter played Wonder Woman with spirit and heart, endearing her to both fans and critics.
The show played for one season on ABC as Wonder Woman and then for two more seasons on CBS as The New Adventures of Wonder Woman. Based on the DC comic book series’ character, Wonder Woman is one of a tribe of Amazonians living on a remote island in the Bermuda Triangle. During World War II, American pilot Steve Trevor (Lyle Waggoner) is shot down near the island and rescued by Princess Diana. After nursing him back to health, it is decided she will help return him to America. As soon as he’s back in Washington, D.C., working for the War Department, the Nazis are after him. Diana defeats the plot and she ends up becoming Trevor’s secretary in the guise of Diana Prince.
Although the first season was successful, ABC wasn’t sure about renewing it, but production company Warner Bros. received a competing offer from CBS, who was willing to pick up the series on the condition that the show be updated from the 1940s to the ’70s and center more on the traditional crime-fighting series then popular. And so Wonder Woman goes to work for the Inter-Agency Defense Command (IADC), fighting international crime and the occasional extraterrestrial villain.
In addition to her amazing physical prowess, Wonder Woman has a costume that has key powers, all driven by a gold belt. Her bracelets can deflect bullets, and her lasso will force the person snared in it to tell the truth. To make the transformation, Diana Prince spins into Wonder Woman. It looks pretty seamless, but Carter told an interviewer once that the sequence took about 45 minutes, with costume, hair and makeup changing in the process.
After two seasons, CBS decided to move another superhero TV show into Wonder Woman’s 8pm Friday slot —The Incredible Hulk. But it was a great run for Lynda Carter, and throughout she was much in demand for promotional work. She picked up a modeling contract with Maybelline, appeared in Diet 7-Up commercials with Don Rickles, headlined a show at Caesars Palace and recorded the album Portrait. (She performed two songs from the album on a 1979 episode of Wonder Woman.)
After the show ended, Carter stayed busy. In 1980 she made a guest appearance on The Muppet Show and then starred in a series of TV musical specials, singing with the likes of Kenny Rogers, Tom Jones and Ray Charles. She played Rita Hayworth in the CBS telemovie The Love Goddess, guest-starred in several Bob Hope TV specials and sang the national anthem at the 1988 Democratic National Convention.
In 2007 she began touring a one-woman musical cabaret show, An Intimate Evening With Lynda Carter, and in 2009 her second album At Last reached No. 10 on the Billboard Jazz Albums chart. Her third album Crazy Little Things came out in 2011, and in 2018 her fourth album Red Rock n’ Blues featured two vocals with daughter Jessica Carter Altman. She was set to tour again in 2020 but the pandemic put the wraps on that and she hasn’t rescheduled any dates, however she did release a 5 song EP in 2021 called Unexpected.
Carter has gotten a lot of mileage out of her time playing Wonder Woman, but we suspect she’s been able to do that because she already had most of that wonder inside. She is very active on Social Media and uses the platform to champion for Women’s rights Amongst other causes.