Are you a fan of the classic TV show Wonder Woman? If so, you’re probably a big fan of Lynda Carter, the original Wonder Woman!
And why not? Lynda Carter brought a finesse and style to the role that newer actresses cannot compete with. While we expect Wonder Woman to have many different versions in film and television, we’ll always have a soft spot for Lynda Carter’s performance.
But what was Lynda Carter’s life and career like before she became famous through Wonder Woman? And what happened to her after the show ended?
While she faced many challenges as Wonder Woman, Lynda Carter had to face even greater challenges in her actual life…
Lynda Carter was born on July 24, 1951 in Arizona. Though she wasn’t from a showbiz family, she showed an interest for the limelight at an early age.
At the age of 5, she appeared in Lew King’s Talent Show. By the time she was in high school, she became passionate about singing and joined a band called Just Us. She would later join another band called The Relatives and toured with them.
While a student at Arizona State University, Lynda Carter voted as the “Most Talented,” student. This inspired her to drop out of school and pursue her music career full-time. She joined The Garfin Gathering and toured with them until 1972.
While she enjoyed her singing career, she also wanted to branch out to do other things. In 1972, she began modeling and became the winner of the Miss World USA Beauty Pageant.
This led to more modeling opportunities. And while Lynda enjoyed modeling, she was also discovering a new passion around this time…
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After leaving The Garfin Gathering, Lynda began taking acting classes. She had already succeeded with music and modeling. Now, she wanted to try her luck in entertaining others in film and television.
Luckily, her timing couldn’t have been more perfect. After winning the Miss World USA Beauty Pageant, she began to get noticed by prominent television producers. This led to her getting small roles in popular TV shows including Nakia and Starsky & Hutch. Eventually, she got roles in films including Bobbie Jo and the Outlaw, and the TV movie, A Matter of Wife…and Death.
But her big break came in 1976 when she cast as Diana Prince in Wonder Woman. She truly was the perfect choice for the role. Apart from acting, she performed many of her own stunts – and enjoyed doing them!
She also came up with the idea for the now-famous “spin-change” sequence. This sequence proved to be so popular, that DC Comics included it in later Wonder Woman comics and animations.
The show lasted for 3 seasons and established Lynda Carter as one of American television’s most popular actresses. While many stars become typecast or “one-hit wonders,” this wasn’t the case for Lynda Carter.
After Wonder Woman came to an end, she continued to get roles in films and television shows. These included playing Rita Hayworth in the biopic, Rita Hayworth: The Love Goddess; Lightning in a Bottle and Hotline. She even had a small role in Apocalypse Now which eventually cut out of the final film.
Her TV appearances included shows such as Partners in Crime and Hawkeye. On the surface, it seemed like Lynda Carter was on a winning streak. She seemed to be one of the few actresses who didn’t face many career or life struggles.
But nothing could be further from the truth.
While working on Wonder Woman, Lynda Carter married talent agent Ron Samuels. Unfortunately, it wasn’t a happy marriage and it led to Lynda becoming a heavy drinker. They divorced in 1982, but this didn’t put an end to Lynda’s alcoholism.
She later married attorney Robert Alan Altman in 1984 and remained married to him until his death in February 2021.
While this a happier marriage, he involved in a major fraud scandal involving the Bank of Credit and Commerce International. This brought additional stress to their marriage and after the matter resolved, Lynda realized she had to get her life together.
She entered a rehabilitation program which helped her kick her addiction to alcohol. She also managed to continue acting in films and television shows. Lynda Carter also began singing again and would often perform on stage whenever she received an opportunity.
With the recent film versions of Wonder Woman, there has been a rekindled interest in Lynda Carter and her career. Newer fans are used to Gal Gadot as Diana Prince. Yet, many of these newer fans have also watched the original 1970s version of the show. This has won Lynda Carter a legion of fans from the younger generation.
She even made a cameo appearance as Asteria in the film Wonder Woman 1984 – which released in 2020.
In fact, she’s spent much of the 1990s and 2000s keeping busy with work. She’s made TV appearances in shows such as Supergirl, Smallville and Law and Order. She’s also acted in films such as Dukes of Hazzard, Super Troopers, Super Troopers 2, and Sky High.
In 2021, we can expect to see her in the mystery film The Cleaner alongside stars such as Luke Wilson and Soleil Moon Frye.
But Lynda Carter’s life hasn’t just been devoted to her career. She’s also advocated for gay rights, breast cancer research, and female empowerment. She reportedly wished Gal Gadot “best of luck,” for taking on the role of Diana Prince in the revamp of Wonder Woman. For the original Diana Prince, it was heartwarming that a new generation of fans would see a woman fight crime and save the day!
In fact, the entertainment industry hasn’t forgotten about Lynda Carter’s excellent performance in the original Wonder Woman series. She’s recognized as one of the early pioneers of showing female empowerment in American entertainment.
She continues to attend conventions to discuss her experience working on the show. Both older and newer fans laud her for giving young women and girls a role model, through her performance of Diana Prince.
In fact, due to her great performance, the character of Diana Prince considered to designated as the “Honorary Ambassador for the Empowerment of Women and Girls” by the United Nations. While this didn’t come to fruition, it showed how influential Lynda Carter’s performance was.
In 2014, the actress received a Golden Palm Star on the Palm Springs Walk of Stars. This was to celebrate her career and achievements. Two years later, she received a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Gracie Award. This award is presented by the Alliance for Women in Media Foundation. The award goes to women who have made significant achievements in American media.
In 2018, she received a star of the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Among the attendees was former CBS Chairman, Leslie Moonves who was once one of Lynda’s fellow acting students!
Lynda Carter has proven to be among that rare breed of stars who have never gone out of style. Many youngsters who watched her in Wonder Woman would offer her work as they came of age.
For Super Troopers and its’ sequel, she specifically chosen for the role of Governor Jessman. Director Jay Chandrasekhar was a huge fan of Lynda’s and specifically sought her for the role. He clearly enjoyed working with her as he also cast her to act in the film version of Dukes of Hazzard – based on another popular 1970s TV show.
In the Disney film Sky High, she played Principal Powers – who was the headmistress of a school full of superheroes! In one memorable scene, she cheekily says, “I can’t do anything more to help you. I’m not Wonder Woman, ya’know!”
Her husband Robert Alan Altman heavily involved in the video game industry. This brought opportunities for Lynda to lend her voice to several video games. These included The Elder Scrolls series, Fallout 4, and Rage 2.
Her first music album was Portrait – which she released in 1978. While she took a long hiatus after this album, she returned to releasing records in 2009 with the release of At Last. Since then, she’s performed for the albums Crazy Little Things, Red Rock N’ Blues and the Fallout 4 Soundtrack.
Now in her 60s, Lynda Carter is showing no signs of slowing down. The major theme of her life and career has been consistency. Even when she battled with alcoholism and troubled marriages, she never stopped working.
While she continues to be remembered for her work in Wonder Woman, she’s never let that role take over her career. She continues to play versatile roles in films and television shows. In her free time, she’ll also perform songs and do voiceover work for video games.
And when she’s not working, she’s advocating for causes she believes in. In other words, Lynda Carter has always lived a full life…and she’s got no intention of slowing down anytime soon!
Are you a fan of Lynda Carter? Do you think that new generations will grow to appreciate her work as Wonder Woman? Or does she have to work to win over a new set of fans by taking on newer roles?
Let’s hear your thoughts in the comments.
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