Even when Lynda Carter was just a little girl, it soon became clear to those around her that she was destined for stardom.
Growing up to become a leading actress, model and singer, Lynda has been making her mark on the entertainment industry since the ’70s. Landing her most iconic role in 1975 as Wonder Woman, Lynda proved to the world that she had what it takes to be the first female on-screen superhero, and it’s safe to say her fame rocketed after the show launched.
But despite living a glamorous lifestyle in the public eye for most her life, Lynda has faced many demons along the way and it certainly hasn’t been an easy ride for the Hollywood legend.
While she’s still seen as an inspiration for many to this day, let’s take a look at the untold story of the woman underneath the Wonder Woman costume.
She had a troubled time during her teenage years
Despite going on to become a female icon around the world, Lynda had some troubles with bullies while at school in her teens. She once spoke to Time Out magazine about the hard time she went through at school, saying other kids would make fun of her height and large feet. She would often get told she looked like the lanky girl, ‘Olive Oyl’, from Popeye due to how tall she was. But Carter certainly had the last laugh when she went on to become one of the biggest cultural icons ever.
She’s earned millions during her career
In the ’70s and ’80s, Lynda was considered one of Hollywood’s richest actresses. As well as her infamous role as Wonder Woman, Carter also starred in many other movies and TV shows, including The Dukes of Hazzard and Law & Order. While she’s earned millions along the way, it’s thought her net worth today is around $10 million – still pretty impressive for someone who’s been in the industry for decades.
A beauty pageant queen
Carter’s career actually began when she was just 21-years old. She entered a local beauty competition in her home state of Arizona and to her surprise she walked away with first place. It was clear that she had a talent for beauty contests and was soon asked to participate in the Miss Arizona and Miss Phoenix pageants, both of which she won. In 1972, a few years before becoming Wonder Woman, Lynda took part in Miss World and reached the semi-finals with ease. Although she didn’t walk away with the crown, her involvement in the pageant began to get her noticed within the entertainment industry.
Music was her first passion
Although most of her career has consisted of acting and modelling jobs, Lynda’s very first passion was music. While she was in high school, Carter played guitar and marimba in several bands. By the time she was 17, she formed the music group ‘The Relatives’ with two of her cousins. Their drummer was Gary Burghoff who went on to appear in the hit show M*A*S*H.
Her transition from music to film
The Relatives toured the United States and soon landed a permanent slot at the Sahara Hotel in Las Vegas, opening the show every night for almost three months. As Lynda hadn’t turned 21 by this point, she had to sneak into the venue through the kitchen as she was underage. The Relatives split up soon after their Vegas success, and Lynda went on to join a group called The Garfin Gathering in 1970. She decided to let her music career take a back seat and focus on acting instead.
Worldwide success as Wonder Woman
Lynda Carter bagged her most famous role to date in the DC Comic show Wonder Woman in 1975, doubling up as Diana Prince and her superhero alter ego. The popular series aired from 1975 to 1979 for three seasons – moving from CBS to ABC during its time on screen. The show soon became a smash hit around the world and garnered Lynda the success and attention she’d been working towards since she was younger. Despite coming off air over 30 years ago, Wonder Woman repeats are still aired on TV today, broadcasting to millions of viewers around the world.
The show’s timeline changed
When the show first aired in 1975, it was set in the 1940s in the middle of WWII. But when the program moved over to CBS for its second season, the network changed the time to the 1970s. Luckily, Carter’s character was immortal so the jump in decades worked well.
Her diversity as an actress
The original idea behind Wonder Woman was for the female superhero to represent the ‘all-American girl’, but although she portrayed that well on screen, Lynda has a lot more diversity about her when it came to her heritage. It wasn’t popular knowledge at the time but Lynda’s ancestry was actually very mixed. Her father was of Scottish and Irish descent while her mother was originally from Mexico and had both Spanish and French ancestry.
A loving family life
Carter married her first husband, agent Ron Samuels, in 1977 but the pair divorced in 1982. In 1984 she met her current husband Robert A. Altman. Lynda even left her glamorous life in Hollywood to live with him in Washington D.C. They had two children together – Jessica, born in 1990, and James, born in 1988.
She almost missed out on the role of Wonder Woman
Before landing the role of Wonder Woman in 1975, Lynda was about to give up on pursuing an acting career entirely. She had been struggling to make a living for herself as an actress in LA and was considering moving back home to Arizona. Carter now admits that she only had $25 to her name before she was given the superhero gig. After getting the call from the series’ producers to ask her to take the lead role, she managed to borrow some money off close friends so she could pay her rent before getting her first pay check.
Lynda created the signature ‘Wonder Woman spin’
Carter was actually the one who created the signature transformation spin performed by Wonder Woman in the series. In an interview in 2005, the actress revealed she had come up with the move and it wasn’t actually in the original comic books. The show’s producers spent weeks trying to determine how Diana Prince would transform into Wonder Woman, but Carter’s natural dancing talents came into play and she suggested she do a pirouette. This soon became her character’s trademark move.
She performed with Kenny Rodgers
In 1978, just before Wonder Woman left our screens, Carter released her first album titled Portrait. Several of the songs from the record were even used in the superhero series. She also sang a duet with Kenny Rodgers – the pair performed ‘You and Me’ on her show Lynda Carter Special.
She actually worked with Francis Ford Coppola
Carter was due to star in Francis Ford Coppola’s film Apocalypse Now. She was originally given a role in the movie but was forced to pull out due to a conflicting schedule for a new series of Wonder Woman. Carter was then replaced by Colleen Camp but some of the original footage starring Lynda was still used in the 2001 Redux version.
Since being in the spotlight, Lynda has always made her beliefs and passions clear. She has supported several causes and helped raise awareness for the LGBT community too. She has attended several pride parades in Washington D.C. over the years, as well as being an ambassador for women’s rights. Lynda is also a spokeswoman for Irritable Bowel Syndrome, something that affected her mother for over 30 years.
Her husband Robert was charged with fraud
In 1992, her husband Robert was accused of bank fraud. He was actually charged with fraud against regulators for the Bank of Credit and Commerce International. Carter stood by his side throughout the whole trial and he was eventually acquitted of all his charges.
She was responsible for the first stunt woman being hired in Hollywood
Lynda was notorious for being the only female superhero on people’s screens, and even though Carter loved playing her part, she was surprised there was no stunt doubles to help out with the dangerous scenes. When it came to filming a risky scene where Wonder Woman is hanging from a helicopter, Carter was shocked to hear there were no stunt women available and only a stunt man could do the job. After kicking up a fuss, production studios soon began hiring female stunt doubles, with Lynda Carter having the first one.
Gal Gadot – the new Wonder Woman
Fans were gutted to see Wonder Woman go off their screens in 1979 but thankfully it returned in 2017. Everyone’s favourite superhero was making a comeback to the big screen, this time being portrayed by Hollywood newbie, Gal Gadot. Carter spoke out about the remake saying she was super excited and she was full of praise for Gadot and the rest of the cast.
She changed her name before she found fame
Lynda was born in Phoenix, Arizona, as Linda Jean Cordova Carter. As a young girl she had big aspirations to have a career in showbiz and wanted to stand out from the rest. When she was old enough she legally changed the spelling of her first name to ‘Lynda’, which she saw as much more exotic. She wanted to ensure her name could stand its own ground in the entertainment industry.
She owns a dream home in Maryland
Today, Carter is still with her husband Robert A. Altman, with the pair living in a dream mansion set in Potomac, Maryland. They have lived there for over 25 years and with the house sitting across seven acres of land with its own tennis court and pool, there’s no surprise they haven’t moved. The 20,000 sq-ft mansion is decorated to represent Lynda’s creative taste, including French, English, Danish and Chinese decor.
23. The perfect role model
The actress still speaks fondly of her role as Wonder Woman, saying she saw her character as a “woman’s woman” who every girl could look up to. Her superhero character is still regarded as a cultural role model to this day and is a massive inspiration for women all around the world.
Going back to music
In more recent years, Carter has revisited her passion for music. More than 30 years after her first album came out, she released a follow up record called At Last in 2009. The album rose to the top of the Billboard Jazz Chart and was an immediate success. In 2011, she followed this up with a third album titled Crazy Little Things.
Working in the video game industry
It’s clear Carter is a multi-talented woman, having success in film, music and modelling. She’s also found her feet in the video game industry as a prolific voice actor. She voiced different characters in The Elder Scrolls game series as well as Fallout 4 more recently.
Plastic surgery rumours
Even though she is now 66, she is still considered one of the most beautiful women in the entrainment industry. Despite being very naturally pretty, Lynda has succumbed to plastic surgery over the years much like many other celebrities. Carter has allegedly undergone many procedures to try and get rid of her wrinkles. Some reports even claim she has had a face lift.
She always looked up to her mother for inspiration
Over the years, Carter has praised her mom, Juanita Cordova, for being her main inspiration when it came to her career. As a little girl, Lynda used to watch her mother being very caring over her appearance and would always teach her daughter to look after herself well. Juanita would always tell Lynda to stay out of the sun to keep her youthful looking skin.
The ‘jeans don’t fit’ rule
Women all across the globe have always been envious of Carter’s hourglass figure. And it turns out the actress has one rule for when she knows she needs to lose weight – if her jeans feel too tight then she exercises more and eats well until they feel comfortable again.
Not following in mom’s footsteps
Carter’s daughter – Jessica Altman Carter – has decided to go down a different route to her mother when it comes to her career. Instead of choosing the showbiz life, Jessica has focused more on her education, receiving a BA in Psychology from the University of Michigan. She then went on to gain a PhD in law while working as an intern for a law firm in Washington D.C.
She was a big supporter of Hillary Clinton
During the 2016 presidential elections, Carter made it clear that she was supporting Hillary Clinton. Carter supposedly said in an interview that she saw a lot of Wonder Woman’s qualities in Hillary and believed she would make a strong president.
Her battle with alcoholism
Lynda’s life wasn’t as glamorous as people thought. After Wonder Woman went off air, she began depending heavily on alcohol to feel content and her drinking problem worsened in 1982 when her first marriage – to Ron Samuels – ended. She admitted in a later interview that she used to drink to avoid her emotions.
Her addiction grew worse
In 1984, Lynda got married for the second time. This time around she seemed to find her perfect match in Robert Altman. But despite finding the love of her life, Lynda still couldn’t kick the bad drinking habits and soon went into a downward spiral of addiction. She admits to hiding her condition from those around her. After a while she began to feel like she wasn’t involved enough in her children’s lives. After years of sneaking around, Lynda decided to tell her husband everything and seek the professional help she needed.
Getting back on track
She sought help from a rehabilitation centre in Washington D.C. She also admits to seeking help through God and her faith, asking him for guidance on her path to recovery. Her rehab treatment turned out to be a success and before she knew it she was back on track and enjoying the sober life. She admits that she learned a lot about herself during that time and hasn’t relapsed to this day.
In March 2018, Lynda confirmed rumours that during her time in the industry she has suffered incidents of sexual harassment, including on the Wonder Woman movie set. She also revealed that one person has already been charged for other offences, she said:
“He’s already being done in. There’s no advantage in piling on again. I believe every woman in the Bill Cosby case.”