Chances are, if you’re a girl whose formative years straddled the 1970s and ’80s, then you’ll have pretended that you, too, were Lynda Carter. The drop-dead gorgeous actress played the spinning sensation and superheroine Wonder Woman, a television icon of her era. But Carter was an icon herself: as well as being considered one of the most beautiful women in the world, she enjoyed a career arc that took her from small-screen stardom all the way to the United Nations. These 40 little-seen images paint a picture of a quite extraordinary life.
40. As Wonder Woman
Carter was a badass both in and out of the Wonder Woman costume. She did a lot of her own stunts and she had to have pyrotechnics hidden inside her famous bracelets to create the spark effect when Diana deflected bullets. It was obviously pretty dangerous work, but Carter did it anyway.
39. Posing for the camera
Carter was absolutely a sex symbol, but would you believe that at one stage she didn’t think she was pretty? In 1978 she told People magazine, “I wasn’t the beautiful blond cupcake when I was growing up. I’ve been skinny and I’ve been heavy. I wear glasses. I’m a real person. I’ve learned how to look great without wearing any makeup except a little bit of blusher and some mascara.”
38. Singing on stage
Here’s another bit of trivia that might well have passed you by: Carter is a singer as well as an actress. Her official website lyndacartersings.com declares, “Bet you didn’t know I could sing! I grew up in a house filled with music. My mother, who is of Mexican and Spanish descent, used to sing to my English-Irish father, and between the two of them I was introduced to a diverse array of music, ranging from country to blues to classical.”
37. In a swimsuit
As Wonder Woman’s alter ego Diana Prince, Carter got to wear various body-hugging outfits, but she didn’t really enjoy it. In 1980 she 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.”
36. On a swing
You’ve heard of mood swings? Well, this 1979 picture shows Carter standing up on a swing in New York City and if she doesn’t look happy, maybe it was because she was thinking about her Wonder Woman show. Despite it being very good, viewers were starting to turn off by the time the third season was released. That year, CBS canceled it.
35. Going for a jog
Of course, a superhero has to stay in tip-top physical condition, and it seems even after Carter stopped playing Diana Prince, the habit was hard to break. She is seen here stretching before jogging in London’s Park Lane in 1980 and to this day, the actress exercises regularly in order to stay in shape. In 2014 she described her workout routine to The New York Times newspaper, “I try to vary it as much as I can. If I’m at a place that rents bikes, I will use a bike. But you can always take a pair of tennis shoes and walk.”
34. Gala glamour girl
Carter usually attends the galas held by the American Ballet Theater. This one shows her at the 65th anniversary gala, held at the Metropolitan Opera House in 2005. But she’s gleefully showing off a cast over her arm. Maybe her famous Wonder Woman bullet-blocking bracelets let her down for once?
33. Come to Daddy
In 1991 Carter appeared in the NBC movie Daddy, based on a book by Danielle Steel. The producer was Douglas S. Cramer, the man who cast the actress in her most famous role. Speaking to newspaper The Tampa Bay Times about that, the screen icon said, “I liked the part because I’m a Danielle Steel fan, and I adore the producer.”
32. Skateboarding as Wonder Woman
Now, you might “wonder” why, despite her general indestructibility, Wonder Woman always had to wear a helmet, even if she was just skateboarding. Why? Because small children might have been watching the show, and the producers wanted to encourage them to wear helmets as well. If Wonder Woman set a good example, surely kids would follow suit?
31. A pretty portrait
This photo was snapped in 1985, after Wonder Woman had been canceled. Carter had started to move onto other projects by then. In 1991 she told the Tampa Bay Times newspaper, “People try to pin me down and get me to say I didn’t like being Wonder Woman. But I liked it. It was my start. I just moved on to other things.”
30. With Henry Winkler
There was a remarkable collision of genres back in 1977 when Carter started dating Henry Winkler, the star of Happy Days. She went with him to the 34th Annual Golden Globes, where he picked up an award. Now you’d expect The Fonz to always look the part, but Carter herself deserves an award for fashion here, too. Not only was she perfectly coordinated with Winkler, she looked amazing in a tuxedo.
29. Being Miss USA
This one probably won’t surprise you: before she was Wonder Woman, Carter was a hugely successful beauty pageant contestant. The young model competed in her home state of Arizona before entering Miss World America, which she won. This picture shows her just arrived in London, all smiles, about to compete in the international Miss World.
28. With Ron Samuels
Ron Samuels was Carter’s first husband, but the relationship didn’t last. She married him in 1977, when she was only 25, and divorced him five years later. In 2019 Carter talked to Closer magazine about what happened there, saying, “Don’t marry the first person that proposes to you! He was a lot older, and I was just stupid.”
27. Feline happy
This shot is from 1982, and Carter is attending a VIP screening of the film Trial of the Pink Panther. She’s with a man named Kim Patak, described by the photographer as her “escort.” And the Pink Panther himself is there as well, with his arm around the smiling actress.
26. Exiting a theater
Before her Wonder Woman fame, Carter was chasing her showbiz dreams via a career in music. At the age of just 17 she joined a band called The Relatives, and got to perform in Las Vegas – though she wasn’t allowed to enter any actual casinos. Then in 1970, when this photo was taken, she performed in a band named The Garfin Gathering with Lynda Carter.
25. With other Miss World contestants
Carter appears in this line-up of 1972 Miss World contestants. She’s the one fourth from the left, between Miss United Kingdom and Miss Norway. Back in those days, the pageant was very different from what it is now. The women were expected to perform in swimsuits, but this round was removed from the contest in 2014.
24. Rocking a T-shirt
This shot from 1977 shows Lynda Carter dressed down in a T-shirt outside the Magic Pen restaurant, but even in casual clothes she looks absolutely amazing. It’s probably not surprising that one year after this photo was taken Carter was handed the accolade “The Most Beautiful Woman in the World” by the International Academy of Beauty and the British Press Organization.
23. With Robert Altman
Carter met lawyer Robert Altman in 1982 and within the space of two years she had married him. They moved into a large family home together, had two children named James and Jessica and never looked back. In 2018 Carter told Closer Weekly magazine, “He makes me laugh. When I get into my minutia, he brings me off the edge!”
22. On the show Smallville
In the wake of her unqualified success as Wonder Woman, other superhero stories have cast Carter in important roles as well. In the show Smallville, which followed the early years of Superman, she played the mother of Allison Mack’s character Chloe. Smallville had offered Carter a role before, but she didn’t agree to appear until she got a character in which she was interested.
21. At the Skyrim launch party
The digital era hasn’t left Wonder Woman behind: over the years Carter has started lending her voice to video games. And in 2011 she appeared in the massive, very highly anticipated The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim from Bethesda, playing the characters of Azura and Gormlaith Golden-Hilt. It doesn’t hurt, though, that Carter’s husband is the CEO of Bethesda’s parent company.
20. Being Miss USA
Carter won the title of Miss World USA in 1972, and that meant she could go through to the Miss World contest. She didn’t win that one, but she didn’t mind. In 2010 she told the Daily Express newspaper, “I wasn’t bothered that I didn’t win – I wasn’t really the beauty queen type and I couldn’t imagine having a chaperone and going around the world with a crown and banner, so I moved to Los Angeles to take up acting.”
19. In 1985
It might be hard to believe, but this shot of Carter was snapped in 1985, when she was 34. And if you’re wondering how she keeps her skin so clear, well, she’s offered advice about that over the years. She always wears sunscreen and stays away from the rays as best she can. Plus, she’s careful to only apply minimal makeup to her face.
18. At a Pride parade
Carter has long been a devoted ally of the LGBT community. She attends Pride parades and she’s spoken about it in interviews. In 2012 she told Out magazine, “I have to say it’s such a privilege to be embraced by the LGBT community. To be welcomed by a group that has seen so much discrimination over the years – it’s just an honor.”
17. Hope springs eternal
Before Carter was cast as Wonder Woman, she was one of Bob Hope’s USO cast members. And she remained associated with him as time went on. In 1983 she appeared as a guest star on NBC’s Happy Birthday, Bob! And in 1987 she played a shrink counseling Hope’s Easter Bunny on Bob Hope With His Easter Bunnies and Other Friends.
16. Eating an ice-cream
Sometimes Carter posts throwback pictures on her Instagram, and this is one of them. She posted it in 2020 alongside the caption, “Today is National Ice Cream Day! What’s your favorite flavor? Mine is Salted Caramel.” We’re betting that, operating on the fairly safe assumption that a significant proportion of her followers are male, that this sizzling picture from the archives could be a rare example of ice cream raising temperatures…
15. Posing with her wunderkind
Carter’s son James, born in 1988, is a fully grown adult now. And when he and his mother appear together, it’s easy to see the family resemblance. James chose not to go into showbusiness, though. He works as the Director of Publishing Operations at his father Robert’s company, ZeniMax Media.
14. In the movie Sky High
In 2005 Carter starred in the kids’ movie Sky High, playing a superhero of course. That year she described her character to the website MovieWeb as, “She’s got a little sense of humor about herself. She’s a complete female, but she’s all female and she’s not going to take any guff off of these little rat kids, and she loves them too.”
13. Doing a Wonder Woman action scene
Carter’s Wonder Woman costume obviously didn’t leave much to the imagination, but the actress was always very protective of it. In 2017 she told Entertainment Weekly magazine, “All this stuff about costumes – ‘Oh, it’s exploitive and blah, blah, blah.’ Give me a break. You can’t say that the sock in the pants of Superman wasn’t. Get over it.”
12. Showing off on Instagram
In 2020 Carter posted on her Instagram account, “Howdy! Found this amazing getup in my closet… What do you think?” The outfit was red, white and blue, very reminiscent of Carter’s Wonder Woman outfit. Actually, as readers with particularly keen memories may just recall, in one Wonder Woman episode with Roy Rogers, she got to wear a cowboy costume as well.
11. With her mother
In July 2016 Carter posted alongside a photo on Instagram, “Happy birthday to my beautiful mother, who always supported me. Miss you every day.” Her mom, Juanita Cordova Carter, passed away in 2013 after a battle with Alzheimer’s disease. Carter now is a major advocate for Alzheimer’s research and funding.
10. In the movie The Dukes of Hazzard
Carter appeared in the big-screen version of The Dukes of Hazzard in 2005. She told the Film Monthly website at the time, “I had a lot of scenes with Willie Nelson and I cannot tell you, it was a total blast…You know, it was fantastic, so much fun.” Alas, though, the film itself rated a frankly sub-mediocre 14 percent on movie review website RottenTomatoes.
9. With Muhammad Ali
Boxing legend Muhammad Ali used to watch Wonder Woman with his kids, according to his daughter Hana Yasmeen Ali. Carter met him in 1979 and went out to dinner with him, the cameras capturing the moment – insert your own joke about two knockouts here. They clearly had a connection: when Ali died in 2016 Carter posted a tribute to him on Instagram.
8. Doing a benefit run
Carter has long campaigned for better breast cancer research and awareness. And sometimes that means pulling on some trainers and going for a run. This photograph from 1990 shows the actress, American Vice President Dan Quayle and Carter’s Partners in Crime co-star Loni Anderson at a “Race for the Cure” event.
7. At her wedding
Carter wed Robert Altman in 1984, and the year after that she talked about her new marriage to newspaper The Washington Post. She said, “This is [Robert’s] first marriage, my second. But for me, it’s my first…Robert is my best friend. I’ve heard that phrase, your spouse is supposed to be your best friend. But I never experienced it before.”
6. On The Muppet Show
In 1980 Lynda Carter received the supreme honor of getting to guest-star on The Muppet Show. Inspired by her, Miss Piggy took up the alias of “Wonder Pig.” It’s not many people who can say that they inspired the porcine primadonna. Many years later in 2010 Carter wrote on Facebook, “I loved being on The Muppet Show!”
5. With her daughter
Have you seen the movie ? Well, it seems in real life it’s not just supervillains who can have Mini-Me-s. Carter just so happens to have a daughter who looks exactly like her. Jessica spoke to Closer magazine about her mom in 2018, saying, “Everyone sees her as so regal, glamorous and beautiful. But she is the goofiest, silliest human being by far that I’ve ever met in my entire life.”
4. As the President of the United States
The DC show Supergirl couldn’t resist inviting Carter to play a role: just not Wonder Woman. She ended up playing Olivia Marsdin, President of the United States and secret alien in disguise. And yes, the episode absolutely did work in a couple of references to the Wonder Woman show.
3. At her husband’s trial
In the ’90s Carter’s lawyer husband Robert Altman was accused of banking fraud and filing false documents. You won’t be surprised to learn that it was a trial that absolutely made the headlines, yet the screen icon stood by her husband throughout. In August 1993 he was found not guilty, and reportedly the actress jumped into his arms in relief.
2. In character as Wonder Woman
Carter always loved that she played Wonder Woman, even though it was always the main role for which she’d become known. In 2007 she told TV Guide magazine, “A long time ago I made the choice to embrace it and enjoy what it is people are trying to say to me, and understand that it’s not really about me.” And at the end of the day is it really such a terrible thing to be identified with a flawless, gorgeous superhero?
1. At the UN with Gal Gadot
In 2016 Carter attended a special ceremony at the U.N. with her fellow Wonder Woman Gal Gadot. The organization was making the character of Diana Prince an Honorary Ambassador for the Empowerment of Women and Girls. Carter spoke at the event, saying, “Wonder Woman helps bring out the inner strength every woman has.”