Celebrity Then And Now
Publication: Albany Daily News. Posted by Lexi Schwartz
Celebrity Then And Now
Posted by Lexi Schwartz
Currently Known For:
Actress, Singer, Songwriter and Former Miss World America 1972
1975 - 1979
July 24, 1951
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“I never meant to be a sexual object for anyone but my husband.” Few people will argue that Lynda Carter was one of the most beautiful women of the 1970s. First turning heads after being crowned Miss World America in 1972, Carter went on to earn superhero status as she starred in the hit television series Wonder Woman from 1975 to 1979. Although the show was short-lived by today’s standards, it was enough to launch Carter to international stardom as a celebrity and sex icon. Since the show’s end nearly four decades ago, Carter seems to have a superpower of her own after aging gracefully in Hollywood and proving she’s still as gorgeous as ever at 65 years old. Advertisements:
Hailing from Phoenix, Arizona where she was born on July 24, 1951 as the youngest of three children, Carter was only five years old when she made her television debut on Lew King’s Talent Show. The appearance was only minor but it gave Carter, who stood out among her classmates for being exceptionally tall and lanky, a glimpse into what her future could be like as a performer. Often teased and called “Olive Oyl” because of her towering height, Carter didn’t seriously turn to music until high school. “I was taller than all the boys except the tackles on the football team,” Carter told TV Guide. “And all my girlfriends seemed to be 5-foot 3-inch blondes. I even was rejected as a pompon girl because I towered over everyone else.”
Not really fitting in at Arcadia High School, Carter turned her full attention to music and started singing professionally at the local pizza parlor for $25 each week. She joined a band called Just Us before she teamed up with her cousins and aspiring actor Gary Burghoff to start their own band called The Relatives. Fortunately, the band showed great promise as the Sahara Hotel and Casino lounge in Las Vegas booked them for three months. At the time, Carter was bringing in $400 per week as a singer but was not yet 21 years old and had to enter the Las Vegas hotel through the kitchen every night before the band’s set.
Tired of life on the road, Carter returned to Arizona and enrolled at Arizona State University but her experience in Las Vegas couldn't’ compare to college life despite being voted “Most Talented” in her class. Months after enrolling, she dropped out of college to focus on music full time and spent the next few years traveling around the country with The Garfin Gathering where she sang in hotels, lounges, bars and underground garages for anyone and everyone. Unfortunately, her passion wasn’t paying the bills and she returned to Arizona in 1972.
Once she was back in The Grand Canyon State, Carter entered an Arizona beauty contest on a whim and, surprising even herself, won the title. With growing confidence, she entered and won the Miss World US title and took the international stage at the 1972 Miss World Pageant where she reached the semifinals. Finally realizing her beauty and embracing her height and lanky figure, Carter thought that acting might better suit her as she packed her bags and moved to New York City where she enrolled in acting school. Shortly after, she made her acting debut in a 1974 episode on the police drama Nakia. She went on to make appearances on shows like Starsky and Hutch, Cos and a string of B-list movies before catching a huge break in her career.
In 1975, Carter auditioned for the title role of ABC’s newest series, Wonder Woman, which was based on the DC Comics of the same name and followed Wonder Woman and her alter ego, Diana Prince. Thinking she bombed the audition and with her savings dwindling, Carter was ready to call it quits and return to Arizona when her manager called and gave her the news—Joanna Cassidy, the other actress up for the part, was out of the running. Carter’s audition impressed the producers so much that they chose her, an unknown name, over Cassidy.
Cast as the first female superhero, the producers were quick to warn Carter about the gig. “At the time, there were no pretty women in leading roles on TV, just funny women like Carol Burnett and then Laverne and Shirley,” Carter told Glamour magazine. “The producers said, ‘Now, you understand women aren’t going to like you because you’re sexy.’” Fortunately, Carter was just what television needed as she spent the next four years climbing to new heights of international stardom as Wonder Woman posters and costumes covered store walls and flew off store shelves.
Although Carter embraced her role as Wonder Woman, she never expected Warner Bros. to market her image as a sex symbol especially after they used a mask of her face for the Wonder Woman dolls but didn’t pay her any royalties. Taking her name off the image completely when merchandising the character, Carter had an entirely different issue when it came to male fans. “I never thought a picture of my body would be tacked up in men’s bathrooms,” she recalled during an interview with US magazine. “I hate men looking at me and thinking what they think. And I know what they think. They write and tell me.”
Eventually wrapping up Wonder Woman in 1979, Carter went on to appear in a string of television series and films like Hope & Faith, Law & Order: SVU and Two and a Half Men in addition to being named “The Most Beautiful Woman in the World” while signing an endorsement deal with Maybelline cosmetics. Most recently, she’s returned to television as President Olivia Marsdin on Supergirl and is thrilled to see a new generation of fans with the release of Wonder Woman starring Gal Gadot in 2017. “It’s time for a new generation to have a smart and powerful woman be part of their experience—and the reemergence of characters like Supergirl and Wonder Woman means that time has come.”