Wonder Woman is one of the most successful and legendary comic book adaptations of all time. Before her anticipated entry into the DC Cinematic Universe in June 2017 and the current Wonder Woman ‘77 comic book series, Wonder Woman was enjoyed worldwide as a television show, making Lynda Carter a household name. Let’s take a look back at the television series that made the franchise wildly popular and how Wonder Woman is making a 21st Century comeback.
Finding Wonder Woman
Producers went on a long talent search to cast the role of Wonder Woman for the 1970s television series. Actress Lynda Carter had saved up the money she made from performing in bands to make it as an actress in Los Angeles. She was on her last $25 and about to move back to her native Arizona before her manager called her and informed her that she had landed the role.
She beat out 2,000 other actresses, including actress Joanna Cassidy, who already had a steady acting career at the time. Before becoming Wonder Woman, Lynda Carter has had an impressive past.
During high school, Carter was a performer in multiple bands. Then she attended Arizona State University, but ultimately dropped out to pursue a career in music. After performing in a San Francisco hotel for janitors and hotel guests, she returned to Arizona in 1972. While there, she won a local Arizona beauty contest and eventually went on to win the titles of Miss Phoenix, Miss Arizona, and then Miss USA, representing Arizona.
In 1972, she travelled to London to represent USA at the Miss World contest, where she gained international attention. But this wasn’t something Carter enjoyed too much, telling Express, “It was all so silly, wearing a crown and banner when it was the 1970s and the women’s liberation was everywhere.”
Try, Try Again
The Wonder Woman television series isn’t the first time Wonder Woman went from the comic books to the screen. Before the series aired, ABC created a made-for-television film of the same name that came out in 1974. Lynda Carter tried out for the role at the time, but lost it to actress Cathy Lee Crosby, who is best known as the co-host of That’s Incredible!
Even though Carter didn’t land the role the first time around, it obviously worked better in her favor since she is now known for one of the most well-known portrayals of Wonder Woman in history. But apparently, Carter had some differences with multiple members of the cast. Click on to find out who!
Actress Beatrice Colen played Etta Candy, Wonder Woman’s best friend and sidekick. Etta Candy only appears in the first season of Wonder Woman, which is set in the WWII era. After the series was revamped and set in modern times (of the 1970s) the role of Etta Candy was dropped.
Aside from this role, Colen was also known for her role as carhop Marsha Simms on Happy Days. Throughout her career she guest starred in other shows such as The Wonder Years, All in the Family, and Baywatch, finally retiring in 1997. Two years later, she passed away after her battle with lung cancer.
Actress Debra Winger appeared on Wonder Woman as the title character’s younger sister, Drusilla. In the series, Drusilla visits Wonder Woman on Earth to convince her to come back to their home planet, but her older sister convinces her that the outside world needs Wonder Woman.
While there, Drusilla becomes Wonder Girl. She was only in three episodes and although producers wanted to keep her on the show, she bought herself out of her contract so she could move on to better acting pursuits. Even after she was offered the lead in a spin-off series for Wonder Girl, she still declined the opportunity.
Did Debra Feel Disdain?
Since leaving Wonder Woman, Winger has certainly accomplished her goals, having been nominated for Golden Globes and an Oscar for Urban Cowboy and Terms of Endearment, respectively. But after a 1993 appearance on The Late Show With David Letterman, one might be left to wonder whether or not Winger feels a little disdain for the show she was on early in her career.
During the interview, Letterman played a clip from Winger’s appearance as Wonder Girl and she expressed a little disdain for having to play second fiddle to Carter. In addition to having a skimpier costume, Winger wasn’t even allowed to wear the same eyeshadow as Carter! At the end of the interview, oddly enough, Winger took off her dress to reveal her Wonder Girl costume and fled off stage.
Actress Christine Belford played Paula von Gunther, Wonder Woman’s enemy, throughout the Wonder Woman series. In the Wonder Woman universe, Paula von Gunther started out as a Nazi spy and saboteur, but in some instances she would be an ally to Wonder Woman.
She began acting after she moved to Los Angeles at the end of 1970, where she earned a seven-year acting contract from Universal Pictures. In addition to Wonder Woman, she has been in a plethora of popular television shows from the ‘70s through the ‘90s such as Magnum, P.I., The Golden Girls, Beverly Hills, 90210, and Battlestar Galactica.
Lynda Day George
There was even a Nazi version of Wonder Woman on the show. Actress Lynda Day George played Fausta Grables. In Wonder Woman, Fausta Grables was appointed by Adolf Hitler to work on a special project named “Operation: Fräulein,” in which she and other Nazi agents sneak into the United States in order to capture Wonder Woman.
Aside from Wonder Woman, George is known for her roles in cult horror films, in which she starred alongside her husband, actor Christopher George. Together they starred in Day of the Animals, Pieces, and Mortuary. Lynda eventually retired from acting after 1989 after her final performance in the Mission: Impossible television series.
Actor Richard Eastham played the role of General Philip Blankenship for the first season of the show, when it was still set during WWII. The role was based on General Phil Darnell from the DC Comics universe. Since Eastham actually served four years in the U.S. Army during WWII, the role was a piece of cake.
Although his role on Wonder Woman was short-lived, Eastham had a prolific acting career, most notably for his stage acting and baritone voice. He is most recognized perhaps for his role as Harris Claibourne on Tombstone Territory. After retiring in 1991, Eastham lived to be 89 years old, succumbing to Alzheimer’s disease that took his life in July 2005.
Lyle Waggoner was a fixture on The Carol Burnett Show throughout the late ‘60s and early ‘70s. For seven years, he was an announcer and a performer, but left in 1974 to advance his acting career. He played Steve Trevor, Wonder Woman’s trusted friend and liason to the United Nations.
After the first season, producers kept Waggoner and since the series was revitalized to represent the modern day, Waggoner instead played Steve Trevor, Jr. throughout the rest of the Wonder Woman series. Throughout his career, Waggoner was often cast for his “hunky” appeal, guest starring in shows such as Happy Days, Charlie’s Angels, The Love Boat, and Murder, She Wrote.
Lyle Waggoner As Batman?
While Waggoner found his place in Wonder Woman as Steve Trevor and Steve Trevor, Jr., he apparently had hoped for a more prominent role in the DC Universe. In the ‘60s, Waggoner tried out for the role of Batman in the 1960s television series, but ultimately lost the role to rising star, Adam West.
Aside from acting, in 1979 Waggoner founded Star Waggons, which is the largest supplier of studio location rental trailers in the entertainment industry. Star Waggons may be Waggoner’s main area of focus now, but occasionally makes appearances on television shows, which often parodies his earlier image.
Was Waggoner a Threat?
Towards the end of the series, Waggoner and Carter appeared in increasingly fewer scenes together due to alleged tensions between the two stars. Waggoner was already a hunky television star in his own right by the time he was cast on Wonder Woman, but apparently he couldn’t shine too bright next to Lynda Carter.
According to sources, “One day someone told [Carter] she was a star, and she simply didn’t want anyone else in the same scene. She feels like Lyle brings the show’s energy level down. As for him – well, you can’t say anything bad about Lyle because the only time he ever becomes angry when he’s ignored.” In recent interviews, however, Carter has denied existence of any tension between them.
A Feud Between Wonder Woman & Wonder Girl?
Considering Carter’s alleged squabble with Lyle Waggoner over who was a bigger star, you would think she had more of an issue with Wonder Girl, but apparently this isn’t so. Of Winger’s performance as Wonder Girl, Carter says that she thinks Winger did a great job.
When asked by Larry King if Winger was hard to work with, Carter has said, “I didn’t think so. But as she later told some interviewers, I guess, some horror story about working with me… But I’m in good company. She didn’t like working with Shirley MacLaine, Jack Nicholson, Richard Gere, John Travolta. I think she’s a tremendous actress.”
Bradford Dillman was in Wonder Woman as a Nazi spy named Arthur Deal III and as Thor. Dillman studied with the Actor’s Studio and had a successful film career, having starred in films such as A Circle of Deception, Crack in the Mirror, and Compulsions, for which he won an award at the Cannes Film Festival.
Aside from Wonder Woman, Dillman has starred in other television shows throughout his career, such as Columbo, Wild Wild West, Mission Impossible, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, and The Alfred Hitchcock Hour. His last known acting credits are on Murder, She Wrote in 1995.
Mickey Morton played a gorilla with super-strength named Gargantua in an episode of Wonder Woman. In addition to his gorilla-suit role, Morton has appeared in plenty of other television shows throughout the ‘60s, ‘70s, and ‘80s.
His more notable roles are as a Wookie on The Star Wars Holiday Special and as Mr. Sullivan in Growing Pains. He’s had small roles on classic old shows such as The Dukes of Hazzard, Starsky and Hutch, Diff’rent Strokes, I Dream of Jeannie, and Laverne & Shirley. Morton was unbelievably tall at 6’8”, so it’s no wonder that he got cast in roles such as Gargantua.
The character Carolyn Hamilton was played by actress Jayne Kennedy, who appeared in the 1977 episode titled “Knockout.” Carolyn Hamilton is a cop with the San Francisco Police Department who later becomes involved with a group of terrorists. Wonder Woman and Steve Trevor talk her into leaving the group.
After Wonder Woman, Kennedy won the 1982 NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actress in a Motion Picture award for her work in the film Body and Soul. She’s also worked as a model as well as a corporate spokesperson. Kennedy is now married to actor Bill Overton and has four children.
Legendary actress Cloris Leachman guest starred in the pilot episode of Wonder Woman as Queen Hippolyta, Wonder Woman’s mother. For one day’s shooting, Leachman was paid $25,000, and she only played the role for that one episode. The role was subsequently picked up by other actresses.
Leachman’s career has earned her more Primetime Emmy Awards than any other performer with a total of eight awards, in addition to winning a Daytime Emmy and an Oscar for her role in the 1971 film adaptation of The Last Picture Show. Leachman is still going strong today at 90 years old, with her most notable recent performance being on the Fox network sitcom Raising Hope.
Actor Norman Burton appeared on the second season of Wonder Woman as Joe Atkinson, the Inter-Agency Defense Command supervisor. Although he has had a prolific acting career, unfortunately Burton never garnered any major recognition for his talents. Despite this, he was still in major films.
In Planet of the Apes, he played the Hunt Leader, the first gorilla to be seen by the main character and the audience in the film. In the James Bond flick Diamonds Are Forever, he gave an “unconventional” performance as Felix Leiter. He taught method acting in his later life and was almost 80 years old when he passed away.
First Time for Warner Bros.
With the Wonder Woman television series, it was the first time that Warner Bros. was able to handle property from DC Comics after they were both owned by Warner Communications (which is now known as Time Warner). Today, the union of DC Comics and Warner Bros. has given audiences a number of box office hits such as Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and The Dark Knight Trilogy.
In 2017, everything will come full circle with the release of the film Wonder Woman, which will be her official introduction into the DC cinematic universe, after having an appearance in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.
Comic Book Tie-In
When Wonder Woman was still on the air, the writers at DC Comics made sure to keep the Wonder Woman comics in line with the television show. When Wonder Woman was set in the 1940s for the first season, the publishers at DC Comics decided to set the Earth-2 version of the Wonder Woman comic book and her appearances in World’s Finest Comics in the 1940s as well.
But when the television series moved to the modern day starting in the second season, publishers made the all the Wonder Woman comics follow suit. However, in the Earth-1 versions of the Justice League of America comics, Wonder Woman appears to be in the modern day.
Not Formally Canceled
It seems that the cast and crew of Wonder Woman never really knew when their show was getting the axe and that they sort of just let the cancellation of their show happen. As it turns out, the CBS network had an option to renew the show, but let it expire before they made a final decision. As a result, Wonder Woman was never formally canceled.
According to Lyle Waggoner however, “If Wonder Woman had been allowed to keep fighting the Nazis, she would have been on for a very long time,” citing Wonder Woman’s transition from NBC to CBS and the story’s plot from the 1940s to the present day as the reason ratings began to sink.
Voice actor Tom Kratochvil lent his voice to IRAC (Information Retrieval Associative Computer), an intelligent computer with a personality. IRAC was more commonly known as Ira, being first introduced in the second season of Wonder Woman. In addition to Wonder Woman, Kratochvil was a voice actor for The New Scooby-Doo Mysteries and Paw Paws throughout the 1980s.
While Kratochvil was a pivotal fixture on the show, viewers rarely got to see his face! He’s not the only character that was a machine though. What other machine was popular on Wonder Woman and where did they get its voice?
For comic relief, producers of the series introduced Rover, a small robot created by the IADC and programmed by the IRAC. While Rover’s primary function was to just deliver mail, he was often enlisted to help Wonder Woman. Rover would go “Beep-beep!” to get people out of its way.
If you ever thought that this sound was familiar, you’re not wrong. Warner Bros. took Rover’s sounds from their library and recycled the classic “Beep-beep” sound effect made famous by the Road Runner from Looney Tunes. Wonder Woman was also known to use sounds from the Star Wars series as well.
Wonder Woman’s transformation from normal citizen Diana Prince to her superheroine persona is one of the most iconic moments of the 1970s television. For the first two episodes, the producers accomplished this by spinning Carter’s clothes off in slow motion. But since the process was too time-consuming and expensive to do for every episode, the producers thought of another way to do this.
From episode three throughout the rest of the series, the show’s creators used a ball of light to fabricate the transition. It was definitely a cheaper way to go about it without sacrificing any of the special effects.
Who Else Wanted To Be Wonder Woman?
It was quite a surprise to many when producers decided to cast Lynda Carter in the role of Wonder Woman, especially considering the big names that she beat out to get the part. As previously mentioned, Carter got the part over Joanna Cassidy, who was considerably more well-known as an actress at the time, having been in other series such as Mission: Impossible, Starsky & Hutch, and Taxi.
But Cassidy fared well anyway, receiving a Golden Globe Award for her work in Buffalo Bill. Angie Bowie, an actress and former spouse of David Bowie, was also reportedly interested in the role of Wonder Woman.
Carter Invented Wonder Woman’s Spin
In the comic strips, when Diana Prince turns into Wonder Woman, she leaves the room and then comes back as the super hero. On screen, the Wonder Woman television show creators wanted something a bit more dramatic. Always the big thinker, Lynda Carter is the one who suggested the spin that turns Prince into Wonder Woman. She was a dancer, so the spin came naturally.
They added the light explosion effect later on, to make the transition seem seamless, instead of the previous way that they were filming it, as previously mentioned. Apparently, Carter was also open to performing her own stunts on occasion.
The Helicopter Stunt
In a season two episode titled “Anschluss 77,” there is a scene in which Wonder Woman jumps onto the bottom of a helicopter and holds onto it as it flies away. In a TV movie commentary, Carter recalls that they originally used a stuntwoman, but that no matter what the cameraman did, it was obvious that the woman wasn’t Carter.
So, Carter made the brave decision to try to perform the stunt herself. She said, “It was so much fun. Where else in your life can you have all these adventures?” Unfortunately, Carter’s bold move didn’t sit well with the network executives who didn’t know she was going to do that.
Another Wonder Woman Project
In 1967, there was previous attempt to bring Wonder Woman to the television screen. This show, called Who’s Afraid of Diana Prince? was created by William Dozier. He saw how successful Batman had been and thought he could bring the same success to a show about a female superhero.
However, only a pilot was filmed and it was never aired, although it’s been rumored that it still can be found online. Ellie Wood Walker, who was the wife of actor Robert Walker Jr., starred in the pilot as Diana Prince. In this case, a second actress would have been used to play the part of Wonder Woman. Linda Harrison was enlisted to play Diana’s “Wonder Woman” alter ego.
Wonder Woman’s Jet Is Controlled Telepathically
The Invisible Jet that Wonder Woman flies throughout the series has another characteristic that’s even more exciting that being invisible; Wonder Woman can control and summon it using telepathy. Originally, the concept of the Invisible Jet was created in order to be an allegory for the invisible compliance of females to the patriarchy in the 1940s.
According to sources, “The Invisible Plane would be undetected while moving quietly at supersonic speeds so that it would not be shot down by the guns of Man’s World. The idea was avoidance of conflict rather than meeting hostility head on.”
The Bracelets Of Submission
Wonder Woman’s bracelets, known as the Bracelets of Submission acted as a force protecting her from anything that came her way. From gunshots to explosions to even impact from a fall, Wonder Woman’s bracelets saved her from many a close call.
To create this effect in the show, Carter explained that, “[the property master] wired, almost like matchsticks, these little loads in the front where the stars were and within those stars there were some wires. Those wires went up the back of my wrist and into the palm of my hand… I would fire them depending on which arm was taking the shot. It was pretty ingenious,” Mental Floss reports.
The Bracelets Were Made from Zeus’ Shield
Lore has it that Wonder Woman’s indestructible Bracelets of Submission were crafted from the remains of her father’s (Zeus) destroyed shield. His shield, named Aegis, was originally made out of the hide of a goat. After they were turned into Wonder Woman’s bracelets, there were able to draw on the power of Aegis.
No wonder they’re unbreakable. Sources say that William Moulton Marston incorporated the bracelets when creating Wonder Woman “as an allegory for his philosophy on loving submission and the emotional control associated with it in order to balance out the strength of the human ego.”
Leif Garrett Made an Appearance on the Show
Smartly timed to match up with the release of his new album, pop heartthrob of the ‘70s Leif Garrett played twins on an episode of Wonder Woman in 1978. In the episode, Wonder Woman had to save Leif and his twin. And, of course, he performed his hit song “I Was Made For Dancing” in the last scene of the episode.
Garrett made his guest appearance in the third season of The New Adventures of Wonder Woman and apparently, the writers were at this point trying to appeal to younger audiences. Garrett’s appearance didn’t stop the show from cancellation and it didn’t save him from a later drug addiction later in his life.
A New Wonder Woman for a New World
After a long hiatus, Wonder Woman made a comeback in pop culture in 2016 as a supporting character in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. However, this new version of Wonder Woman bears a different attitude and costume than the Wonder Woman of Lynda Carter’s day.
The new Wonder Woman is darker and edgier, as is the style with the characters in the DC Cinematic Universe of the 21st century. Her brief appearance in the 2016 superhero flick sparked enough interest for Wonder Woman to get her own film, which is due out in June 2017, starring newcomer Gal Gadot.
What Does Lynda Carter Think?
Since hearing of plans that Wonder Woman would be brought to life to accentuate the growing DC Cinematic Universe, Lynda Carter says she’s happy that a new Wonder Woman is coming to screens. When Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice was slated to premiere and there were talks of a new Wonder Woman making an appearance, Carter told British publication Express in 2015: “I hope that the film is good. It is odd that it is an Israeli actress and not an American but she seems to be very pretty and I wish her well.”
After the movie came out, many people were upset over Wonder Woman’s minor role, but news has since come out about Wonder Woman’s feature film. Of her appearance in the prior film, Carter has said, “It’s not a bad way to reintroduce her that way.”
Lynda Carter Today
Somehow Lynda Carter has managed to remain stunning and age gracefully in an industry that is known to not be so nice to its people. But don’t let her poise fool you, Carter still has moves! Following her stint as the 1970s-era Wonder Woman, Lynda spent the 1980s performing on stage as a showgirl at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas!
Years later in 2007, she went on tour for her one-woman cabaret show, “An Evening with Lynda Carter.” In 2015, she even wrote and recorded songs for the latest installment of the Fallout 4 video games. Now that’s some diverse talent!
An Icon for Generations
While some people viewed Wonder Woman as an object of male fantasy, Carter has always emphasized how much the show was supposed to be empowering for women.
In a 2016 interview with The New York Times, Carter said, “I still have women at airports coming up to me saying: ‘Oh, you don’t know what it meant to me…That’s really where the fantasy became a reality, where Wonder Woman became something much more than a TV show or a comic book… If a guy comes up and says, ‘Oh my God, I had such a crush on you when I was a teenager,’ I say: ‘Talk to the hand. I don’t want to know.’”
She Will Always Be Typecast
Because of Lynda Carter’s original role as Wonder Woman, she is seemingly always typecast as a superheroine, save for movies like Dukes of Hazzard.
When asked if she had a problem with being typecast, Carter told Film Monthly, “I’ll always be typecast. It’s moniker: Wonder Woman is: Lynda ‘Wonder Woman’ Carter.” Carter expressed that she’s proud of the role that made her famous, because it said a lot about that times: “You have to remember the time period, and in the ‘70s the only women on television were comediennes doing half-hour or variety shows… But things have changed a lot and it was great to be kind of pioneering women in television and having the people that makes these projects realise that there’s a huge market for female characters and doesn’t have to be about guns and guys.”
Life After Wonder Woman
After finishing Wonder Woman, Carter divorced her first husband, Ron Samuels, who was her former talent agent. Having to deal with that and the stigma of being seen as a heroine the rest of her life, Carter turned to something darker: alcoholism.
Express reports that Carter has said, “Alcoholism is an abyss. You are terrified of the addiction. You just can’t stop. The disease has taken over, it is not a matter of having will-power. Addiction feels so shameful but it really is a disease, and if you have got the gene that turns it on, it is devastating.” Carter says that the alcoholism was really bad after the scandal that her second husband found himself in.
Carter’s Second Marriage
In 1984, Carter remarried attorney Robert A. Altman, giving up her Los Angeles lifestyle to live with him in Washington, D.C. In the early ‘90s, Altman and his partner, Clark Clifford, found themselves amidst the Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI) scandal.
Altman and Clifford at the time ran First American Bankshares and were “indicted on charges of fraud and lying to banking regulators about First American’s illegal ownership by the… BCCI, a shadowy global institution,” according to a report by The Washington Post. Throughout the trial, Carter was seen at her husband’s side, adamantly declaring that he was not guilty.
While Altman and his partner were ultimately acquitted, the whole ordeal led Carter’s alcoholism to spiral out of control.
At the time, she also had two young children with Altman, for whom she says she wasn’t really present, she told Express, “I didn’t drink during my pregnancies but I wasn’t really present for my two children, though my kids never saw me out of control. But when I had a drink I couldn’t stop. Most people have a drink and feel a little high but I’d feel nothing. My liver doesn’t process alcohol until I’ve had three drinks. Then I’d fall off the cliff of under the table.”
Carter Gets Better
By the new millennium, despite how good Carter was at keeping her problem concealed, her family was still well aware of her drinking issue. Her husband eventually urged her to get help for the sake of their marriage and children, who were by then 20 and 17 years old.
In 2008, Carter opened up to People magazine about how rehab has helped her fight her addiction. At the time of the interview, Carter had been sober for nearly ten years, saying that “the best measure of a human being… is how we treat the people who love us, and the people that we love.”
Carter Opens Up
In 2002, Carter appeared on Larry King Live and opened up about her experiences in rehab while battling her alcoholism. After being asked what it was like, Carter said, “It’s like going back to school That’s the way I felt about it. You go to classes all day long and take notes and participate in group discussions…”
After King asked if talking about alcohol all day would make you want it more, Carter said, “No… It has never bothered me if I’m not drinking. That’s why it’s such a disease. I never even think about it… there’s so much freedom in that, just not having to even think twice about it.”
Stanley Ralph Ross
Co-creator Stanley Ralph Ross can be credited with gifting us with the Wonder Woman television series we know and love today. Having previously written a third of the episodes for the 1960s Batman television series, Ross was approached to help bring Wonder Woman to television.
An earlier iteration of Wonder Woman was created by television writers Stan Hart and Larry Siegel in 1967, but he declined because he didn’t agree with the casting of Cathy Lee Crosby and how Wonder Woman was represented. After that version tanked, he was brought in to develop a version of Wonder Woman that stayed true to the comics and was instrumental in casting Lynda Carter and Lyle Waggoner.
Wonder Woman Is Multi-Ethnic
If you think there are diversity issues in the media in this day and age, imagine how big of a deal it was to have Lynda Carter cast in a main superheroine role in the 1970s! Carter, whose mother was of Mexican heritage, made Wonder Woman a multi-ethnic comic-book superhero.
While her father is of English and Scots-Irish ancestry, Carter’s mother is of Mexican, Spanish, and French descent. Even though Wonder Woman can be considered a representation of an all-American girl of the 1970s, it wouldn’t make sense for her to be assigned to any one ethnicity, since she’s supposed to be from a different planet anyway!
She’s Also a Princess
According to the original comics, Wonder Woman’s origin story reveals that she is Diana of the tribe of Amazon women who live on Paradise Island. Paradise Island is also known as Themyscira, which is a fictional island nation on Earth. Wonder Woman’s homeland is Themyscira, where she is known as Princess Diana of Themyscira.
As Princess Diana and the daughter of Queen Hippolyta, Wonder Woman is a demigoddess and warrior princess of the Amazonian people. She is also a founding member of the Justice League. As an ambassador of Themyscira, it is Wonder Woman’s duty to bring peace to the outside world.
Wonder Woman Is for Women
In an interview with PBS, Lynda Carter said, “Wonder Woman is an archetype, what she represents. She’s certainly not against men. It’s not about being against men and ‘I can show you I’m stronger than you,’ but it is a woman who is not a victim and will not be a victim, and ‘I’m telling you now, don’t mess with me,’ …She’s also a woman’s woman, she’s not trying to be all that, she’s not after your guy… When I played the role I wanted women to have that feeling toward Wonder Woman and Diana, the alter ego which many people don’t talk about very often.”
How did Carter make this translate to Diana Prince?
Diana Prince Is a Feminist
And Lynda Carter is, too. Unhappy about the way in which she felt Wonder Woman’s alter ego, Diana Prince, was being dumbed down, Carter spoke up. She thought Prince was an invaluable insight into who Wonder Woman really was and that making her into a stereotype of a helpless woman hurt rather than helped the story line.
While Lynda Carter was trying to make Wonder Woman and Diana Prince a valuable contribution to society, Carter’s image as Wonder Woman was still taken the wrong way at time. Carter told Us magazine: “I never meant to be a sexual object for anyone but my husband… I hate men looking at me and thinking what they think. And I know what they think. They write and tell me.”
She May Have Saved DC Comics
When Wonder Woman made her first debut as a comic book character, it was in direct response to the public’s negative reaction to Superman. Because Superman was released around the time of WWII, many (mostly unfounded) comparisons were made between Superman and the Nazis and facism.
DC thought that a female superhero would help add some balance to the highly violent, mostly male world of DC comics. In 1940, psychologist William Moulton Marston wrote an article in which he wrote that he saw “great educational potential” in comic books and he was thus approached by comics publisher Max Gaines, who enlisted Marston as an educational consultant.
In the 1940s, psychologist William Moulton Marston was a consultant for DC and created Wonder Woman with a modern female in mind. According to Wikipedia, Marston wanted to create a “new kind of superhero, one who would conquer not with fists or firepower, but with love” and he based the character on the “unconventional, liberated, powerful modern women of his day.”
Marston apparently based Wonder Woman’s character on both his wife and student, Olive Byrne. After getting close with Olive, Marston and his wife invited her into their home and the three began a polyamorous relationship. Both Olive and Mrs. Marston each had two of Marston’s children and all three raised the children in one household.
Is There a Connection?
As a psychologist, Marston took the suggestion from his wife that whenever she got mad or excited, her blood pressure would rise. This led Marston to develop the systolic blood pressure test, which is a major component of the modern polygraph lie detector.
There are a lot of people who say that there is a connection between this and Wonder Woman’s Lasso of Truth, which when wrapped around anyone would force them to obey orders and tell the truth. However, Marston is said to have created the lasso “as an allegory for feminine charm and compelled its captives to obey the wielder of the lasso.”
Designed to Appeal to Both Sexes
While Wonder Woman was created to appeal to both men and women, she was designed with the intention of appealing to women more. Men already felt welcome to the superhero world and quickly became fans of the new female superhero. But creators at DC comics wanted to make women feel welcome in the world of superheroes as well, creating a marketing scheme of articles and advertisements that would attract women.
When you consider how radical her very existence was in the early 20th Century, Wonder Woman was actually admitted and accepted into the superhero world fairly quickly.
But She Still Wasn’t an Equal
While Wonder Woman was indeed accepted into the Justice Society in the mid 1940s, she was still subject to the sexism of the time. Not only was she held back from participating in the Justice Society’s battle’s (the superhero team was known as the Justice Society before it was changed to the Justice League in 1960), but Wonder Woman was instead just given the role of the team’s secretary.
So much for Marston’s vision of her being a role model for equality! But at least it was a start. In later years, Wonder Woman obviously took on a more prominent and serious role in the Justice League.
Zeus Is Her Father
For a long time, Wonder Woman’s origin story was as follows: her mother, Queen Hippolyta, created her from clay and was brought to life by Athena. All of her superpowers were a result of the gifts bestowed on her by the Greek Gods.
This meant, of course, that she did not have a father, but in the newest reboot of her beginnings, DC Comics decided to give Wonder Woman a father and who better for the role than Zeus, king of the gods of Mount Olympus? However, as the story goes, Wonder Woman was raised jointly by her mother Hippolyta and her aunts, Antiope and Menalippe.
A Powerful Woman
Wonder Woman became such a powerful figure, that even in the comic books, she decided to run for president! She ran for office in 1943 and 1972, but unfortunately lost both times, especially considering there was no precedent for a woman in office until recently, when former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton came really close to winning the 2016 Presidential Election.
Fortunately, for Carter, she sort of got to live out Wonder Woman’s goals of becoming president when she guest starred on the 2015 television series, Supergirl. While Carter isn’t a former superheroine, she has the opportunity to play the President on the show.
In her 2016 interview with The New York Times, Carter was asked about her inspiration for the role of President of the United States on Supergirl.
“It was Hillary,” Carter said, “I’ve known Hillary Clinton for 35 years. She is the kindest, most wonderful human being. She has an infectious personality and smile and warmth and personality and true nature. She grew up in a time where you had to be a certain way to be taken seriously. Now you can be whoever you want. You don’t have to be serious. You can be feminine and powerful at the same time.”
Wonder Woman’s Controversial Wardrobe
If you ever thought that Wonder Woman was more eye candy over a feminist icon, you could possibly point to her clothing — or lack thereof — as the culprit.
When The New York Times asked about this, Carter said, “Yeah, so? Superman had a skintight outfit that showed every little ripple, didn’t he? Doesn’t he have a great big bulge in his crotch? Hello! So why don’t they complain about that? …If you think of the ‘70s, that was miniskirts and bikinis. I never really thought of Wonder Woman as a super-racy character. She wasn’t out there being predatory. She was saying: ‘You have a problem with a strong woman? I am who I am, get over it.’”
Wonder Woman Ambassador
On October 21, 2016, it was announced that the character of Wonder Woman was named an honorary ambassador to the United Nations “for the empowerment of women and girls through the “Think of All The Wonders We Can Do” initiative that fights for equal rights and treatment for women,” according to People.
However, this announcement did not come without any backlash. Many people took issue with Wonder Woman’s new appointment, starting a petition that said, “The reality is that the character’s current iteration is that of a large breasted, white woman of impossible proportions, scantily clad… the epitome of a pin-up girl,” according to CNN.
Lynda Carter Supports The UN
Despite the backlash, Lynda Carter and the new Wonder Woman, Gal Gadot, still met at the United Nations to support the cause and their approval for Wonder Woman as a UN ambassador.
People reports that in her speech, Carter said, “In some magical and mystical way, [Wonder Woman] is real. She lives and she breathes because she lives in the stories that women tell me day in and day out. I see it in the women that say that she saved them and inspired them to live through some awful thing that they endured because they saw that they could do something great… Wonder Woman inside of you will never let you down.”
And So Does Gal Gadot
Of her contemporary counterpart, Carter has said, “I’m very excited – I feel like I just passed the baton to the anchor in a relay race in the Olympics. I think she’s going to do amazing. She’s a great girl.”
In her own speech at the UN, Gal Gadot announced, “I think it’s such an amazing opportunity for us to share this character’s values and everything that she stands for and just try and inspire little girls and boys and share the message that she has. It’s the most amazing character. It means to world [to play her],” People reported.
Wonder Woman Gets Fired?
But as fast as she was made ambassador, Wonder Woman’s role got taken away, much to the UN’s chagrin. Jeffrey Brez, a spokesman for the UN, told CNN that the decision to end Wonder Woman’s role as ambassador was not based off of the unforeseen protest.
Brez clarified, “The objective was to reach out to Wonder Woman fans to raise awareness of UN Sustainable Development Goal No. 5 [an action that seeks gender equality and empowerment of women and girls by 2030]. We did that. We are very happy.” Unfortunately, fans of Wonder Woman weren’t too pleased by the news and began to petition to bring her back.