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Lynda Carter: 1951—: Actress

Became Wonder Woman

The Wonder Woman series was based on the 1942 comic strip by Charles Moulton, who had decided that little girls needed a superhero because little boys already had Superman, Batman, and Captain Marvel. Diana Prince, the comic's main character, comes from the uncharted Paradise Island, which she and fellow Amazons fled to around 200 B.C. to escape the male-dominated society of the ancient Greeks and Romans. When needed, the character, Diana Prince, could whirl into her brief and sexy Wonder Woman costume, complete with star-spangled hot pants and a golden breastplate. Her golden belt gave her superhuman strength, her bracelets deflected bullets, and her golden lasso ensnared evildoers, forcing them to tell only the truth.

The first Wonder Woman pilot, which had starred Kathy Lee Crosby, was a flop, and, among the hundreds of Wonder Woman-hopefuls, Garner thought Carter had the perfect look for the revamped version of the comic heroine. Thus, at the age of 25, Carter stepped into her role as Diana Prince. The ABC pilot aired on November 7, 1975, and did very well in the ratings. Despite the good showing, the future of the show was uncertain. ABC, which already had a female-based comic strip show The Bionic Woman in its fall 1976 lineup, ordered two more one-hour episodes that ran in the spring of 1976. When those airings proved equally popular, ABC committed to the Wonder Woman series.

Carter worked hard on her new leading role. She followed a strict diet (mostly vegetarian) and exercise program to keep in shape, and she did most of her own stunts. Carter understood the limitations in portraying a comic book character realistically. "I think that being convincing in a part like mine takes a lot of acting," Carter told Ladies' Home Journal in 1978. "I've never stopped trying to stay true to the character, hoping to make her believable. I doubt that anyone but me could play that part and pull it off." Although the series was very popular, Carter earned few accolades from critics for her acting skills. Following the debut of the pilot TV Guide noted, "[Carter's] acting is rudimentary, but it doesn't matter. Just as in the comic strip all she has to do is stand up real straight and say lines like the following to Major Trevor, played by Lyle Waggoner: 'Follow me, Major. I'll teach those dirty Nazi agents a thing or two about democracy.'"

Carter starred in The New Original Wonder Woman on ABC for one season. In this version, the show was set in the 1940s, during World War II, true to the comic strip. The following season CBS purchased the show and introduced a revamped version with a contemporary setting, titled The New Adventures of Wonder Woman, which aired for two more seasons. Carter's career was managed by her husband, Ron Samuels, a talent agent, whom she married in 1977. Samuels also managed the careers of Jaclyn Smith of Charlie's Angel and Lindsay Wagner of The Bionic Woman. Samuels helped Carter reap financial benefits from her success as Wonder Woman. During her first season, she was paid $3,500 per episode. By the final season, she was making over $1 million for the season, a record amount at the time for a woman in a television series.

Samuels was involved in every aspect of Carter's career, from sponsorships to photo shoots. Carter seemed to have foretold her future in a 1980 interview with Money when she said, "If money became the preoccupation, we would have no business being married." In the same interview, Samuels noted, "We make decisions jointly. But if it comes down to a final decision, Lynda will defer to what I have to say as the man of the house." By 1982 Carter was done deferring and filed for divorce.

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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