Superhero movies and TV shows may be ubiquitous now, but that certainly wasn’t the case in the ’60s and ’70s. In those days, superhero content was primarily consumed through comic books, and few of those storylines — with the exception of Adam West’s Batman, the Green Hornet and a collection of animated series — had been adapted for screen. And depictions of female superheroes were rarer still. Wonder Woman was a glorious exception that helped paved the way for more onscreen superheroines. Former Miss U.S.A. Lynda Carter played Wonder Woman and her alter ego, Diana Prince, from 1975 to 1979 and quickly became a ’70s icon. Carter will forever be best-known as the Lasso of Truth–wielding heroine, but the brunette beauty is still going strong today.
Here, we take a look at the best Lynda Carter movies and TV shows and get to know the life and almost 50-year career of this trailblazing actress.
How Lynda Carter got her start
Born in Phoenix, Arizona, in 1951, Lynda Carter had ambitions to be an entertainer from childhood. At 15, she sang at a local pizza parlor to earn extra cash, and after high school, she became a lounge singer. She then started competing in beauty pageants, and with her distinctive looks — dramatic dark hair, striking light blue eyes and a tall, curvy figure — she won many of them, becoming Miss U.S.A. in 1972.
In 1974, Carter started her acting career. She appeared in TV movies and shows like Nakia, Matt Helm and Starsky & Hutch, and starred in the B-movie Bobbie Jo and the Outlaw.
Lynda Carter becoming Wonder Woman
In 1975, she was cast as Wonder Woman, and quickly became a household name. Given the timing of the growing women’s lib movement and the 1976 American Bicentennial, it was just the right moment for a show that combined strong womanhood and patriotism, making Wonder Woman a surefire success.
“I never really played Wonder Woman — I played Diana Prince,” recalls Lynda to FIRST for Women, of how she approached the character. “In my own mind and what the audience learned about Wonder Woman was through Diana Prince. There was a kindness and sweetness to her — she wasn’t thinking she was all that. She wasn’t a ‘look at me’ type of woman. Rather, she was a ‘Do you really think you can take advantage of me? I don’t think so’ type of woman. She had a sense of humor too.”
Lynda still carries the compassion and inner strength she gleaned from the character even though it’s been 44 years since she hung up her red boots — and a desire to have one of the iconic heroine’s super powers in real life. “The Lasso of Truth — that’s what I would like,” Lynda says, of the accessory that forces anyone to be completely honest. “Can you imagine how great it would be? You could go right up to the leader of this or the leader of that and tell them all to get real.”
Lynda Carter movies and TV shows
Wonder Woman is Carter’s defining role, and while many actresses may be frustrated at being eternally associated with a character she played 44 years ago, Carter has always spoken of it graciously, calling the role “a breakthrough for women on television” and acknowledging, “It was such a short part of my life, but it has made a bigger impact than any other thing I’ve done.” She even made a recent return to the world of Wonder Woman, with a cameo appearance in the movie Wonder Woman 1984 (starring Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman).
Given Wonder Woman‘s long shadow, Carter has had a variety of appearances in superhero shows and movies since. She also wasn’t afraid to poke fun at her signature role.
In 1980, she appeared on The Muppet Show alongside Miss Piggy (who played “Wonder Pig,” of course).
Carter starred in two more TV shows after Wonder Woman: Partners in Crime, a 1984 crime drama co-starring WKRP in Cincinnati actress Loni Anderson, and the 1994–1995 Western Hawkeye — but both of them are little-remembered today, and were canceled after just one season. She later showed up in episodes of Law & Order and Two and a Half Men and movies like Super Troopers and The Dukes of Hazzard.
Carter didn’t have many starring roles in big movies, but she did make many appearances in TV movies from the ’70s onward, including Rita Hayworth: The Love Goddess (1983), in which she played the iconic Golden Age actress.
In the 2005 comedy Sky High, she played the principal of a school for superheroes, and had the tongue-in-cheek line, “I’m not Wonder Woman, you know.” Other superhero-related appearances include a 2007 appearance in the teen Superman show Smallville and a part as the president in Supergirl.
What Lynda Carter is doing today
Now 72, Carter is still in the public eye. She is active on social media, where she often posts about political causes, as well as sharing many throwback images with sassy captions. She’s recently made a triumphant return to her roots by getting back to her singing career.
She released her first album in 1978, and her second decades later, in 2010, and has toured extensively, performing at venues like the Kennedy Center and Jazz at Lincoln Center. She’s said, “Singing is in my soul,” and it’s something she’s been passionate about for her whole life.
In her personal life, Carter is the mother of two grown children. Her daughter, Jessica Carter Altman, is also a singer, and the two of them have collaborated musically.
Sadly, Carter’s husband of nearly 40 years, lawyer-turned-video game executive Robert A. Altman, passed away in 2021.
While there aren’t any upcoming Lynda Carter movies and TV shows (her most recent role was in the 2021 movie The Cleaner alongside Cheers star Shelley Long), her music career has been keeping her busy, and given how large Wonder Woman looms in our culture, she never seems too far from the spotlight.
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