Updated: Oct 12, 2021
Lynda Jean Cordova Carter is
an American actress, singer, songwriter, model, and beauty pageant titleholder who was crowned Miss World USA 1972 and finished in the Top 15 at the Miss World 1972 pageant.
Lynda Jean Cordova Carter (born July 24, 1951) is an American actress, singer, songwriter, model, and beauty pageant titleholder who was crowned Miss World USA 1972 and finished in the Top 15 at the Miss World 1972 pageant.
Carter is best known as the star of the American live-action television series Wonder Woman, in the role of Diana Prince / Wonder Woman. The role was based on the DC comic book fictional superheroinecharacter of the same name, and aired on ABC and later on CBS from 1975 to 1979.
Carter was born in Phoenix, the daughter of Juanita (née Córdova) and Colby Carter. Her father is of English and Scots-Irish ancestry, and her mother, whose family hailed from Mexico, is of Mexican, Spanish, and French descent. She has one brother, Vincent and one sister, Pamela. Carter made her public television debut on Lew King's Talent Show at age 5. During high school, Carter performed in a band called Just Us. The band played a marimba, a conga drum, an acoustic guitar, and a stand-up bass which was played by another girl in the group. When she was 16 she joined two of her cousins in another band called The Relatives. Actor Gary Burghoff was the drummer for the band. The group opened at the Sahara Hotel and Casino lounge in Las Vegas for three months; because Carter was under 21 she had to enter through the kitchen.
Carter attended Arizona State University. After being voted "Most Talented", she dropped out to pursue a career in music. In 1970, Carter auditioned and then sang on tour with The Garfin Gathering and bandleader Howard (Speedy) Garfin. Their first performance together was in a San Francisco hotel so new that it had no sidewalk entrance. Consequently they played mostly to the hotel staff and hotel guests who parked their cars in the underground garage. The Garfin Gathering toured the Nevada "Silver Circuit", playing shows in many of the state's casino lounges between Lake Tahoe, Carson City, Reno, and Las Vegas. Carter decided to leave the Garfin Gathering in 1972 to pursue acting and she returned to Arizona.
In 1972, Carter won a local Arizona beauty contest and gained national attention in the United States by winning Miss World USA 1972, representing Arizona. In the international Miss World 1972 pageant, representing the United States she reached the Top 15. She took acting classes at several New York acting schools during the early 1970s. One of her acting partners during this time was future CBS president Les Moonves. Carter made her first acting appearance in an episode of the 1974 police drama Nakia entitled "Roots of Anger". She began making appearances on such TV shows as Starsky and Hutch and Cos, as well as appearances in several "B" movies.
Lynda Carter as Wonder Woman, 1976
Wonder Woman, the fictional superheroine character was created by the American psychologist and writer William Moulton Marston and artist Harry G. Peter in 1941 for DC Comics. Conceived in the wake of the popularity of Superman, Marston designed his creation as counter-programming to the Man of Steel. The Diana Prince/Wonder Woman character is also called the Amazing Amazon, the Spirit of Truth, Themyscira's Champion, and the Goddess of Love and War. Wonder Woman was an instant hit with readers and for the last 76 years, the character has been the world's most prominent DC comic book female superhero.
Carter's acting career took off when she landed the starring role on Wonder Woman as the title character and her secret identity, Diana Prince. The savings she had set aside from her days of touring on the road with her band to pursue acting in Los Angeles were almost exhausted, and she was close to returning to Arizona when Carter's manager informed her that Joanna Cassidy had lost the role and Carter had the part of Wonder Woman. Carter's earnest performance greatly endeared her to both fans and critics and as a result, she continues to be closely identified with Wonder Woman.
The Wonder Woman series lasted for three seasons, which aired on ABC and later on CBS from 1975 to 1979. Carter's performance, rooted in the character's inherent goodness combined with a comic-accurate costume and a catchy theme song made for a depiction that was nothing less than iconic. After the show ended, Carter told Us that "I never meant to be a sexual object for anyone but my husband. I never thought a picture of my body would be tacked up in men's bathrooms. I hate men looking at me and thinking what they think. And I know what they think. They write and tell me."
In 2017, Carter explained her perspective of portraying the Diana Prince/Wonder Woman character. Carter says she got the role back in 1975 largely because she looked the part which was both a blessing and – as one of the show's producers warned her – a curse: "Oh, women are going be so jealous of you"... "Well, I said, 'Not a chance. 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!". As Carter describes Wonder Woman, "There is something about the character where in your creative mind for that time in your life where you pretended to be her, or whatever the situation was, that it felt like you could fly".
In 2007, DC Direct released a 13-inch full-figure statue of Carter as Wonder Woman, limited to 5,000 pieces; it was re-released in 2010. Also in 2010, DC Direct began selling a 5½-inch bust of Carter's Wonder Woman to celebrate the DC Comics' 75th anniversary.
Carter holds dear the new film and the character introduced more than 75 years ago. "Many actresses or actors, they want to divorce themselves from a role because we are actors, we really aren't the people that we play. But I knew very early on that this character is much more than me certainly, and to try to divorce myself from the experiences that other people have of the character is silly" she said.
During production of the 2017 Wonder Woman feature film, director Patty Jenkins approached Carter to appear in a cameo role in the film, as Carter confirmed, "Patty asked me to do a cameo in this. She was in England, and I was doing my concerts," explaining she had singing engagements that made her unavailable. "At that time we couldn't get our timing together. So, this next time, if she writes me a decent part, I might do it." Carter did make a cameo in the post-credits scene of the sequel film, Wonder Woman 1984 where she plays Asteria, the "Golden Warrior" of the Amazons.
Music and promotional work:
While Wonder Woman was being produced, Carter was well recognized and in demand for promotional work. In 1978, Carter was voted "The Most Beautiful Woman in the World" by the International Academy of Beauty and the British Press Organization. She had also signed a modelling contract with Maybelline cosmetics in 1977.