Click here to read the First Part of this post “Who’s that girl?” and “10 facts you need to know about Wonder Woman”.
The first Wonder Woman We Never Forget
The first attempt to translate Wonder Woman to the small screen occurred in 1967. The success of the Batman television series led Batman producer William Dozier to commission a pilot script by Stan Hart and Larry Siegel. Batman writer Stanley Ralph Ross was then asked to perform a re-write, after Hart and Siegel’s script was deemed unsuitable. A portion of the pilot, under five minutes in length, was filmed under the title Who’s Afraid of Diana Prince? The piece starred Ellie Wood Walker as Diana Prince, Linda Harrison as Diana’s “Wonder Woman” alter ego and Maudie Prickett as Diana’s mother. This pilot episode was never transmitted on television, and the project was not taken any farther. The pilot has been circulated on the Internet, however, and is of interest to Planet of the Apes fans for the early appearance of Linda Harrison, who would later go on to play Nova in the first two films of that series.
Wonder Woman’s first broadcast appearance in live-action television was a television movie made in 1974 for ABC. Written by John D. F. Black, the TV movie resembles the Wonder Woman of the “I Ching” period. Wonder Woman (Cathy Lee Crosby) did not wear the comic-book uniform, demonstrated no apparent super-human powers, had a “secret identity” of Diana Prince that was not all that secret, and she was also depicted as blonde (differing from the black hair established in the comic books). The pilot aired originally on March 12, 1974 and was repeated on August 21 of that year. Ratings were described as “respectable but not exactly wondrous”, and ABC did not pick up the pilot, although Crosby would later claim she was offered the series that was eventually given to Lynda Carter.
Though not successful at the first attempt, ABC still felt a Wonder Woman series had potential, and within a year another pilot was in production. Keen to make a distinction from the last pilot, producers gave the pilot the rather paradoxical title The New Original Wonder Woman. Scripting duties were given to Stanley Ralph Ross, who was instructed to be more faithful to the comic book and to create a subtle “high comedy.” Ross set the pilot in World War II, the era in which the original comic book began.
After an intensive talent search, Lynda Carter, who had done some minor acting jobs and had been the 1972 Miss World USA and a Bob Hope USO cast member, was chosen to play the lead role. For the role of Steve Trevor, the producers chose Lyle Waggoner, despite his brown hair not matching the comic’s blond Trevor, who at the time was better known as a comedic actor after several years co-starring in The Carol Burnett Show. He was also known to Ross as having been one of the leading candidates to play Batman a decade earlier, but it went to Adam West. Waggoner was also considered a pin-up hunk, having done a semi-nude pictorial in the first issue of Playgirl.
Although the pilot followed the original comic book closely, in particular the aspect of Wonder Woman joining the military under the name Diana Prince, a number of elements were dropped. It mainly omitted Diana’s origin including her birth on Paradise Island. The comic book Diana obtains the credentials of a look-alike nurse. Although the pilot shows Diana briefly as a nurse at one point, Diana takes on the identity of a Navy Yeoman Petty Officer First Class. As it was set during World War II, many of the episodes involved Nazis and war events.
One change, which was later to become synonymous with the show, was the transformation of Diana Prince into Wonder Woman by spinning. During the filming of the pilot, producers were trying to figure out a way to show how Diana Prince became Wonder Woman, when Carter suggested that she do a spin. The spinning transformation was later incorporated into the comics and into animated appearances such as Justice League Unlimited (prior to the Carter series, the transformation was depicted in the comics by way of Diana spinning her magic lasso around her body, with the lasso changing her clothes, or by simply changing at super speed).
During season one, Wonder Woman has the ability to impersonate anyone’s voice, which came in handy over the telephone. She did not use this ability during seasons two and three.
Unlike the earlier pilot, the comic book origins of the character were emphasized by the retention of the character’s traditional uniform (the design of which was interpreted by Donald Lee Feld, credited as “Donfeld”) with original setting and through the use of comic book elements. The series’ title sequence was animated in the form of a series of comic book panels featuring Wonder Woman performing a variety of heroic feats. Within the show, location and exposition were handled through comic book-style text panels. Transitions between scenes and commercial breaks were marked by animated starburst sequences.
Wonder Woman achieved solid ratings on ABC during its first season, but the network was reluctant to renew the series for another season. Wonder Woman was a period piece, and as such, it was more expensive to produce than a series set in the present day. Also, ABC thought that the 1940s setting limited possible storylines, with the major villains being Nazis. ABC did not renew the series, so Jerry Lieder, then-president of Warner Bros. Television, went to CBS with the notion of shifting the series to the present-day 1970s, which would cost less to produce and allow for more creative storylines. Unlike 20th Century Fox Television’s Batman, the series was produced without having a theatrical feature film in the middle of its production. In addition, none of the villains had recurring appearances. CBS agreed and picked up the show in 1977, and it continued for another two seasons. Source: Wikipedia.
The One and Only Wonder Woman
Just like no actor who donned the uniform of the Man of Steel was able to achieve the success of Christopher Reeve, we are still waiting for an actress to match the fame of Lynda Carter as Wonder Woman in the public imagination.
Lynda Carter was born Linda Jean Córdova Carter in Phoenix, Arizona, on July 24, 1951, 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. Lynda 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. 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. She attended Arizona State University and after being voted “Most Talented”, 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 Lynda 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.
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”. She was cast in the role of Bunny in Apocalypse Now (1979), but delays in the movie production forced her to back to the United States for Wonder Woman third season and her scenes were re-shot with Colleen Camp. 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.
When the series was canceled, Lynda Carter, upset by the overexposure of his image in the media as a sex symbol, has decided to invest more in his career as a singer and model for Maybelline cosmetics. Later, she starred the crime drama television series, Partners in Crime with Loni Anderson. She also made several works on television in the 90s, because of the re-syndication of Wonder Woman on such cable networks as FX and SyFy, and founded her own production company, Potomac Productions.
Lynda Carter latest works as actress include The Dukes of Hazzard (2005), Disney’s action comedy film Sky High (2005) and a return to the DC Comics’ television world in the Smallville episode “Progeny” (2007), playing Chloe Sullivan’s Kryptonite-empowered mother. In a recent interview to Today (watch here) to promote her tour “Long Legged Woman”, Lynda Carter said she still has her Wonder Woman costume and talked about the release of the new digital-first DC Comic book Wonder Woman ’77, the digital-first series that continues the adventures of the Lynda Carter Wonder Woman television series. Source: Wikipedia.