For the EastEnders character, see Linda Carter.
Lynda Carter (born Linda Jean Córdova Carter; July 24, 1953) is an American actress, singer, songwriter and beauty pageant titleholder who was crowned Miss World America 1972 and also the star of the TV series Wonder Woman from 1975 to 1979.
Carter was born in Phoenix, Arizona, the daughter of Juanita (née Córdova) and Colby Carter. Her father is of English and Scots-Irish ancestry, and her mother is of Mexican, Spanish and French descent. Carter made her public television debut on Lew King's Talent Show at age 5. During high school, Carter performed in a band called Just Us, consisting of a marimba, a conga drum, an acoustic guitar, and a stand-up bass played by another girl. When she was 16, she joined two of her cousins in another band called The Relatives. Actor Gary Burghoff was the drummer. The group opened at the Sahara Hotel and Casino lounge in Las Vegas for three months; because Carter was under 21, she had to enter through the kitchen.
Carter attended Arizona State University. After being voted "Most Talented", she dropped out to pursue a career in music. In 1970, Carter sang with The Garfin Gathering. Their first performance was in a San Francisco hotel so new that it had no sidewalk entrance. Consequently, they played mostly to the janitors and hotel guests who parked their cars in the underground garage. She returned to Arizona in 1972.
In 1972 Carter won a local Arizona beauty contest and gained national attention in the United States by winning Miss World USA, representing Arizona. In the international 1972 Miss World pageant, representing the United States, she reached the semi-finals. After taking acting classes at several New York acting schools, she made her first acting appearance, in an episode of the 1974 police drama Nakia entitled "Roots of Anger." She then began making appearances on such TV shows as Starsky and Hutch and Cos and in several "B" movies.
Carter's acting career took off when she landed the starring role on Wonder Woman as the title character and her secret identity, Diana Prince. The savings her parents had set aside for her to pursue acting in Los Angeles were almost depleted, and she was close to returning to Arizona when Carter's manager informed her that Joanna Cassidy lost the part to her. Carter's earnest performance endeared her to fans and critics, such that Carter continues to be closely identified with Wonder Woman.
The series lasted for three seasons. As it was winding down, while referring to the feedback she had received for her posters, Carter told US magazine:
I never meant to be a sexual object for anyone but my husband. I never thought a picture of my body would be tacked up in men's bathrooms. I hate men looking at me and thinking what they think. And I know what they think. They write and tell me.
She also was upset with some of the marketing of her image. Warner Bros. worked out a deal with the toy company, Mego, to create a Wonder Woman doll while the series was still on the air. In 1987 on The Late Show with Joan Rivers, Carter commented:
I think that you're probably familiar with a problem in Hollywood, and that is that they market you, and they use you. They did a mask of my face and put it on the doll, and they put my name on for the first run of it. And then they took my name off and said they didn't have to pay me anymore. So it's the kind of thing that you can be used so much in this industry. I make nothing. I don't even make anything from the reruns. Don't ever settle for net profits. It's called creative accounting.
In 1985 DC Comics named her as one of the honorees in the company's 50th anniversary publication Fifty Who Made DC Great for her work on the Wonder Woman series. In 2007, toy company DC Direct released a 13" full-figure statue of Lynda Carter as Wonder Woman, limited to 5,000 pieces; it was re-released in 2010. Also in 2010, DC Direct began selling a 5½-inch bust of Carter's Wonder Woman to celebrate the DC Comics' 75th anniversary.
In 1978, Carter was voted "The Most Beautiful Woman in the World" by The International Academy of Beauty and The British Press Organization. During the late 1970s, Carter recorded an album, Portrait. Carter is credited as a co-writer on several songs and she made numerous guest appearances on variety television programs at the time in a musical capacity. She also sang two of her songs in a 1979 Wonder Woman episode, "Amazon Hot Wax". In 1977, Carter released a promotional poster through Pro Arts Inc. at the suggestion of her then-husband and manager, Ron Samuels. The poster was very successful despite Carter's dissatisfaction with it. In 1981 during an interview on the NBC television special Women Who Rate a 10, she said:
It's uncomfortable because I just simply took a photograph. That's all my participation was in my poster that sold over a million copies was that I took a photograph that I thought was a dumb photograph. My husband said, "Oh, try this thing tied up here, it'll look beautiful". And the photographer said "the back-lighting is really terrific". So dealing with someone having that picture up in their... bedroom or their... living room or whatever I think would be hard for anyone to deal with.
In 1979's Apocalypse Now, she originally was cast in the role of Playboy Playmate Bunny, but the filming of her scenes was interrupted by the famous storm that wrecked the theater set, prompting nearly two months' delay for rebuilding. By the time Coppola was ready to shoot again, Carter's contractual obligations to Wonder Woman forced her back to the states, and her scenes were re-shot with Colleen Camp. The only evidence remaining of Carter's involvement are the Playboy centerfolds that were specially shot by the magazine as movie props. At one point in the Redux version of Apocalypse Now, a glimpse of Carter's pinup is visible, as the only nude work ascribed to the actress outside of Bobbie Jo and the Outlaw.
Carter also made a guest appearance on The Muppet Show, but did not appear as Wonder Woman or display the superpowers because she was focusing more on her singing career. However, Miss Piggy portrayed "Wonder Pig", a spoof of Carter's iconic television character.
Her other credits include the title role in a biopic of actress Rita Hayworth, titled Rita Hayworth: The Love Goddess (1983) and a variety of her own musical TV specials: Lynda Carter's Special (1980), Encore! (1980), Celebration (1981), Street Life (1982), and Body And Soul (1984). Carter never returned to her role of Wonder Woman for television films or theatrical films throughout the 1980s due to becoming a celebrity promotional model for Maybelline cosmetics and starring in the crime drama television series, Partners in Crime with Loni Anderson. She portrayed Helen Durant in the 1989 CBS television film Mike Hammer: Murder Takes All where she booby-trapped Las Vegas entertainer Johnny Roman (Edward Winter), her husband Doctor Carl Durant, and his employee accountant Brad Peters (Jim Carrey). Throughout the 1990s, Carter appeared in a string of television movies that resulted in a resurgence in television appearances. Also, because of the re-syndication of Wonder Woman on such cable networks as FX and SyFy, Carter participated in two scheduled on-line chat sessions with fans. It was around that time that Carter created her own production company, Potomac Productions. Throughout the 1990s, she also appeared in commercials for Lens Express (now 1-800 Contacts). In 1993, Carter expanded her performance resume to include voiceover work as the narrator for the Sandra Brown book Where There's Smoke.
In 2000, Carter hosted the I Love 1978 episode of BBC2's I Love the '70s. The following year she was cast in the independent comedy feature Super Troopers, as Vermont Governor Jessman. The writers and stars of the film, the comedy troupe Broken Lizard, with Jay Chandrasekhar directing, had specifically sought Carter for the role. Inspired by the character detour from her usual roles, she agreed to play a washed-up, former beauty queen in The Creature of the Sunny Side Up Trailer Park (2004), directed by Christopher Coppola. She won an award for being the "Superest Superhero" on the Second Annual TV Land Awards that same year. When an announcer reported about an invisible plane being double-parked illegally and needed to be relocated before it is towed, she performed her spinning transformation once again after twenty-five years. A younger actress wore the star-spangled outfit at that moment. Carter made her first appearance in a major feature film in a number of years in the big-screen remake of The Dukes of Hazzard (2005), also directed by Chandrasekhar. She also appeared in Disney's action comedy film Sky High (2005) as "Principal Powers", the headmistress of a school for superheroes. The script allowed Carter to poke fun at her most famous character when she states: "I can't do anything more to help you. I'm not Wonder Woman, y'know". She did not wear glasses like her Diana Prince persona. In 2006, she guest-starred in the made-for-cable vampire film Slayer. The following year, Carter returned to the DC Comics' television world in the Smallville episode "Progeny" (2007), playing Chloe Sullivan's Kryptonite-empowered mother.
Carter expanded her voice-over work to include video games, performing voices for the nord and orsimer (orc) females in two computer games of The Elder Scrolls series, The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion and The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. These games were developed by Bethesda Softworks; her husband, businessman Robert A. Altman, is Chairman and CEO of Bethesda's parent company, ZeniMax Media.
From September to November 2005, Carter played Mama Morton in the West End London production of Chicago. In 2006, her rendition of "When You're Good to Mama" was officially released on the Chicago: 10th Anniversary Edition CD box set. In May 2007, Carter began touring the U.S. with her one-woman musical cabaret show, An Evening with Lynda Carter. She has played engagements at such venues as Feinstein's At Loews Regency in New York, Jazz at Lincoln Center, The Kennedy Center in Washington, DC, the Plush Room in San Francisco, and The Catalina Jazz Club in Los Angeles. In June 2009, her second album, At last, was released and reached #10 on Billboard's Jazz Albums Chart. In June 2011, Carter released her third album, Crazy Little Things, which she describes as a delightful mix of standards, country, and pop tunes.
Carter is among the interview subjects in Superheroes: A Never-Ending Battle, a three-hour documentary narrated by Liev Schreiber that premiered on PBS in October 2013.
Carter has been married twice. Her first marriage was to her former talent agent, Ron Samuels, from 1977 to 1982.
In January 1984 Carter married Washington, D.C., attorney Robert A. Altman, law partner of Clark Clifford (and now CEO of ZeniMax Media). Carter and her husband have two children: James (born 1988), and Jessica (born 1990), and live in Potomac, Maryland.
In 1992 after a lengthy and highly publicized jury trial stemming from his involvement with the Bank of Credit and Commerce International, Clifford was acquitted. Carter was seen on the TV news with her arm around him, declaring, "Not guilty! Not guilty!" to the gathered reporters.
In 2003 Carter revealed that her mother had suffered from Irritable bowel syndrome for over 30 years, resulting in Carter touring the country as an advocate and spokeswoman. Lynda is also a staunch advocate and supporter of Susan G. Komen for the Cure,Pro-Choice rights for women, and legal equality for LGBT people. She was the Grand Marshal for the 2011 Phoenix Pride & 2011 New York Pride Parades, as well as the 2013 Capital Pride Parade in Washington, D.C.
In early June 2008 while rowing out of the Potomac Boat Club, Carter spotted a body floating in the Potomac River. She called out to some fishermen and waited for the police to arrive. Carter stated that she "did what anyone would have done."
Later in June 2008 Carter admitted in an interview to People magazine that she had entered a rehabilitation clinic for treatment of alcoholism and had been sober for 10 years. In a statement when asked what the recovery process had taught her, Carter explained that the best measure of a human being is "how we treat the people who love us, and the people that we love."
Bobbie Jo and the Outlaw
Bobbie Jo Baker
Lightning in a Bottle
a.k.a. Broken Lizard's Super Troopers
The Creature of the Sunny Side Up Trailer Park
The Dukes of Hazzard
A Matter of Wife... And Death
Starsky and Hutch
Wonder Woman/Princess Diana/Diana Prince
TV Movie + 59 episodes
The Last Song
The Muppet Show
Born to Be Sold
Rita Hayworth: The Love Goddess
Partners in Crime
Mike Hammer: Murder Takes All
a.k.a. Danielle Steel's Daddy
Posing: Inspired by Three Real Stories
a.k.a. I Posed for Playboy
When Friendship Kills
a.k.a. A Secret Between Friends: A Moment of Truth Movie
She Woke Up Pregnant
a.k.a. Crimes of Silence
A Prayer in the Dark
Someone to Love Me
a.k.a. Someone to Love Me: A Moment of Truth Movie,
a.k.a. Girl in the Backseat
a.k.a. LaVyrle Spencer's 'Family Blessings'
Dr. Janet Fraser
Hope & Faith
Law & Order: Special Victims Unit
Law & Order
Colonel Jessica Weaver
Two and a Half Men
The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind
The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion
Female Nords and Female Orcs
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
Azura, Gormlaith Golden-Hilt
The Elder Scrolls Online
2009: At Last,
2011: Crazy Little Things