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Lynda Carter: 1951—: Actress

Won Miss Usa

Carter was born on July 24, 1951, in Phoenix, Arizona, as Linda Jean Cordoba Carter, the youngest of three children born to Colby and Jean Carter. Her parents divorced when she was ten years old, and her mother, who is of Spanish and Mexican descent, found work at a Motorola factory to support the family. Lynda admired her mother, telling People Weekly, "She taught me more than anything to survive in a dignified, honorable, gracious way." Lynda, who changed the spelling of her first name during grade school, was exceptionally tall during her youth, leading kids to call her "Olive Oyl," referring to Popeye's lanky girlfriend. "I was taller than all the boys except the tackles on the football team," she told TV Guide. "And all my girl friends seemed to be 5-foot-3-inch blonds. I even was rejected as a pompon girl because I towered over everyone else." Always athletic, Carter competed in swimming and volleyball.

Although she had few dates during her days at Arcadia High School, Carter found a release for her teenage angst in music. At the age of 15 she began singing professionally, performing at a pizza parlor in Tempe for $25 a week. By the time she turned 17, she was making $400 a week singing in lounges in Reno and Las Vegas. After graduating from high school she sang for two different groups, traveling about the country. Tired of constantly being on the road, she quit singing after two years on tour. Carter then attended Arizona State University in Tempe for a time. Carter, now considered tall and beautiful rather than lanky and awkward, entered the Miss Arizona contest in 1972 on a whim. She quit school after being named Miss USA in 1973. Although she failed to secure the Miss World title, she did represent the United States at the international pageant.

At a Glance . . .

Born on July 24, 1951, in Phoenix, AZ; daughter of Colby and Jean Carter; married Ron Samuels, 1977 (divorced, 1982); married Robert A. Altman, January 29, 1984; children: (second marriage) James Clifford, Jessica Carter.

Career: Actress, 1975–.

Awards: Miss USA, 1973; Jill Ireland Award for Volunteerism; Unihealth's Pinnacle Award.

Addresses: Agent—William Morris Agency, 151 El Camino Drive, Los Angeles, CA 90212. Manager— Baumgarten Prophet Entertainment, 1640 S. Sepulveda Blvd., Suite 218, Los Angeles, CA 90025.

After a year of fulfilling her duties as Miss USA, Carter moved to Los Angeles to begin acting lessons, training for the stage with Stella Adler, Lieux Dressler, and Charles Conrad. Within months she was getting bit parts on television, including a small guest shot on NBC's short-lived series Nakia. In 1976 she appeared as Bobbie Jo in the forgettable film Bobbie Jo and the Outlaw. She also continued to work on her music, releasing her only album, Portrait, in May of 1978. Her big break came when her agent urged her to audition for the lead role of Sharon Fields in the movie version of Irving Wallace's novel The Fan Club. Although Larry Gordon, the film's producer liked Carter, he felt she was wrong for the part. He did, however, call his friend Douglas Cramer of Warner Bros., who was in the midst of casting a second pilot based on the Wonder Woman comic strip, to be known as The New Original Wonder Woman.

Additional topics

Brief BiographiesBiographies: Katie Burke (1953–) Biography - Personal to Galeazzo Ciano (1903–1944) BiographyLynda Carter: 1951—: Actress Biography - Won Miss Usa, Became Wonder Woman, Life After Wonder Woman Career, Late Career Plagued By Bank Scandal