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Lynda Carter: Wonder Woman Then and Now

Icons | August 1, 2018

Lynda Carter Portrait Session LOS ANGELES - CIRCA 1985: Actress Lynda Carter poses for a portrait circa 1985 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry Langdon/Getty Images)

It’s hard to believe that a woman as beautiful, sexy and successful as Lynda Carter didn’t always have the world by the tail. It is true enough that her career got off to an early start at the age of 5 with a brief spot on Lew King’s Talent Show. Although her performance was not necessarily something to write home about, it got her noticed.

Young Lynda Carter was a standout in the crowd; not for being especially beautiful and talented but for being “tall and lanky.”

Carter always had dark hair and was quite noticeably taller and thinner than her friends and peers as a child. For this reason, she was taunted by being called, “Olive Oyle,” a character in the cartoon, Popeye. Carter especially stood out among her friends as most of them were on the shorter side with blonde or very light hair. Sadly, she didn’t make the cheerleading cut in high school because she “towered over everyone else.” If only they had known…

Lynda Carter has been quoted as saying, "I was taller than all the boys except the tackles on the football team.”

In an effort to find her niche, Carter turned her attention to music and began singing. She initially landed a job singing at a local pizza joint for a whopping $25 per week. Luckily, she was successful enough to join a small-time band which led to other opportunities.

Ironically, Lynda Carter is the cousin of Gary Burghoff, who played Radar on M*A*S*H. 

Lynda Carter is the cousin of actor, Gary Burghoff. It is ironic given the fact that they are polar opposites on the growth charts. After a brief stint with another band, Carter and Burghoff started their own band called, The Relatives. They played some gigs in Las Vegas and were actually pretty entertaining, but that life on the road got old, real fast!

Starsky and Hutch was one of Lynda Carter’s initial TV series appearances.

Long story, short… Carter left that scene and went back home to her home state where she entered and won a beauty contest. That was all she needed to gain the confidence to enroll in acting classes. Not long after, she landed roles on episodes of TV series including Starsky and Hutch. This was all the exposure she needed.

1975 was the year Lynda Carter auditioned for the starring role of a new crime-fighting series, Wonder Woman.

Lynda Carter landed the title role of TV series about a superhero named, Wonder Woman. The series was a spin-off based on the DC Comic of the same title. The show chronicled the life and adventures of Wonder Woman’s alter ego, Diana Prince. Initially, Carter thought she had “bombed” the audition and was all but ready to give up. She was pretty much an “unknown” at the time, but not to worry…

From this point on, Lynda Carter was and will forever be, known as Wonder Woman.

Carter, after being cast as the first, ever, female superhero on a TV series, was essentially paving the way for future, beautiful, leading, female roles. Up until this point, females had been known for roles being dutiful and/or funny. Carter’s portrayal of Wonder Woman was an entirely new concept. Producers didn’t know if viewers were ready for it or not.

After Carter was cast as the iconic superhero, she was warned by producers that the (then) current leading women in TV roles were Carol Burnett and Laverne and Shirley type characters. She was cautioned that she would be primarily disliked by female viewers because of her sex appeal.

Fortunately, that wasn’t necessarily the case. Wonder Woman commanded a large and varied audience, resulting in Carter being endeared to all of her viewers.

Wonder Woman soon gained international stardom and products, with her likeness, flew off the shelves.  The momentum of the character of Wonder Woman took on a life of its own, both on television and in marketing. Lynda Carter had become a sex symbol as well as an idol for young girls. Unfortunately, some of her fans took it to the next level and would write her inappropriate and explicit fan mail.  

Over the years, Lynda Carter has enjoyed a successful acting career, even beyond her Wonder Woman years. She is and has always been a class act, boasting talent, beauty and brains; the whole package. She is as beautiful now, inside and out, as she was the first time she wowed us in her role as the epic crime fighter, Wonder Woman.  

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Rebeka Knott

Writer

Rebeka grew up in the 1960’s & 1970’s and has always subscribed to the theory that a positive attitude will take you far! She is a wife and mother of 3 with a fun-loving spirit, believing that family and relationships are invaluable.