“I won't consider myself a star until I've had more experience. I think the real stars are people like Streisand, Brando, Dustin Hoffman, Hepburn. Hepburn is my favorite. She epitomizes to me what a star should be.” Lynda Carter
American actress and singer of Hispanic and Irish descent Lynda Carter entered show business as a singer when she was fourteen years old. She toured with several groups before gaining national fame as Miss World-USA in the early 1970s. Led by her success as a beauty queen, the Arizona native embarked on an acting career that reached its zenith during the run of the surprising hit series “Wonder Woman” (1975-1979), in which she starred. The coveted role made her an instant star and led to a series of starring roles in TV movies, most notably “Rita Hayworth: The Love Goddess” (1983). The former spokesmodel for Maybelline cosmetics did not attain a Renaissance until 2005 with her roles in the films “Sky High” and “The Dukes of Hazzard.” Also in 2005, Carter could also be seen in the hit TV series “Law & Order: SVU” and in the London stage in “Chicago.”
During the height of her “Wonder Woman” success, Carter launched her debut album, “Portrait,” in 1978 with the lead single “All Night Song.” The album was relatively unknown although it was released internationally. A professional entertainer, Carter has since made a name for herself as a successful live performer with sold-out gigs in a number of cities like Las Vegas, Atlantic City and London. In addition, she has headlined several TV specials featuring her singing and dancing.
In the entertainment industry since the 1960s, Carter has become the recipient of an unprecedented number of honors, including the title of “The Most Beautiful Woman in the World” from The British Press Organization in 1978. She has also been named one of Mr. Blackwell's “Ten Best Dressed Women in America,” one of Helene Curtis' “Ten Best Tressed Women In America” and one of the International Bachelors Association's “Ten Most Exciting Women In The World.” In 1980, Carter was handed the prestigious Gold Two Award for South America's Most Popular Actress and Performer and the Ariel Award for International Entertainer of The Year, and three years later, she was voted “Hispanic Woman of the Year” by the Hispanic Women's Council of Los Angeles, Inc. More recently, in 2000, she was honored with an Achievement Award from the Washington Mystics.
Carter has been married twice. She and first husband Ron Samuels, who also served as her manager, divorced in 1982 after a five-year marriage. Currently, she is the wife of lawyer and businessman Robert Altman, whom she married in 1984, and has two children with him, Jamie and Jessica. The family now resides in Washington, D.C. Carter enjoys such sports as swimming, skiing, tennis, roller-blading and skeet shooting.
Childhood and Family:
Linda Jean Cordova Carter, who would later be popular as Lynda Carter, was born on July 24, 1951, in Phoenix, Arizona, to a Caucasian father (Colby Carter) and Mexican mother (Juana Córdova). She became a passionate reader of the “Wonder Woman” comic books at an early age. The youngest of three children enjoyed outdoor activities with her parents and her older siblings, Pamela and Vincent. Lynda inherited a love for music and the arts from her mother. At age 5, she began taking dance lessons at the School Ballet of Phoenix and continued her studies until age 15. She also attended Kenilworth School at Scottsdale. When she was 10, Lynda parent’s divorced and Lynda and her siblings went lived with their mom, who then moved the family to a poor suburb of Phoenix. In order to feed her children, she took a job at Motorola grouping parts. While at Scottsdale's Arcadia Titans High School, Lynda participated in musical groups and theater productions and was named the “Most Talented Student” of her high school. After graduating, Lynda enrolled at Arizona State University but soon grew bored with school and left after only one semester to embark on a career in music. Later, Lynda added acting to her endeavors, a craft she studied with Stella Adler, Laura Zucker, Charles Conrad, Lieux Dressler, Milton Katselas, and others.
On May 28, 1977, Lynda married Ron Samuels, a Hollywood producer and manager, but they divorced after five years in June 1982. She next tied the knot with Washington attorney Robert Altman on January 29, 1984. On January 14, 1988, Lynda gave birth to a baby boy at the Children's Hospital in Washington, DC, that the couple named James. Their second child, daughter Jessica, was born on October 7, 1990.
All Night Song
At age 3 or 4, Lynda Carter knew she wanted to be an artist after seeing Dinah Shore on television and shortly thereafter, she made her first public appearance on Lew King's talent show. Later, with The Relatives, the 14-year-old girl had the experience of performing at parties and in local hangouts and after quitting college, she joined The Garfin Gathering and toured the country for three years until 1970. With the hope of launching a recording career, Carter and the group flew to England and recorded the songs “It Might As Well Stay Monday” and “I Believe in Music” as their demo. Unfortunately, the tape was never released and they returned to the United States.
Carter went on to do several tours but became tired and returned to Phoenix in 1972. Following the suggestion of a local model agency and with support from her family, she tried her hand in local beauty contests and ended up being crowned the 1972 Miss Phoenix. She quickly worked her way up and won the Miss Arizona-World and the Miss World-USA titles. As Miss USA, she competed at the Miss World beauty pageant in London and reached the top 15 semi-finals.
After completing her duty as “Miss World-USA,” Carter left Arizona for Los Angeles with the intention of becoming an actress. With the money she collected from being the beauty queen, she took acting lesson with such noted instructors as Stella Adler and Charles Conrad and after two years, she made her television debut in a 1974 episode of the short lived series “Nakia,” playing Helen Chase. She went on to appear in other shows like “Mat Helm” (1975), “Starsky & Hutch” (1976) and made her first big screen debut in 1976's “Bobbie Jo and the Outlaw,” a low-budget Western directed by Mark L. Lester. She was also seen in the TV movie “A Matter of Wife...and Death” (also 1976).
However, Carter did not receive a real breakthrough until she starred as Diana Prince/Wonder Woman in the fantasy/adventure series “Wonder Woman,” a role originated by athlete-turned-actress Cathy Lee Crosby in the unsuccessful movie version in 1974. Originally airing as a special in 1975, the series was an immediate success when it debuted as a TV series in 1976 and received an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Achievement in Costume Design for a Drama or Comedy Series in 1978, a year before it was canceled. Thanks to the wit and depth Carter infused to her part, the character has become one of the most memorable characters in the history of television. Twenty years after the demise of the series, Carter won a TV Land for Superest Super Hero for her work in “Wonder Woman.” She gained an additional nomination in 2006 and 2007 for Greatest Gear or Admirable Apparatus.
Riding high on her small screen success, Carter released an album in 1978 called “Portrait,” in which she co-penned the three songs “Fantasy Man” (with Candi Siller), “Want To Get Beside You” (with Don Dunn and Art Munson) and “Toto (Don't It Feel Like Paradise)” (with Bill Cuomo and Ben Siller). The album, which was produced by Vini Poncia, comprised of ten tracks with “All Night Song” released as its first single. Despite a global release, “Portrait” was considered a disappointment. Later that same year, backed by then-husband Ron Samuel, Carter scored victory with her live shows in various places like Las Vegas, Reno, Atlantic City, Lake Tahoe, Monte Carlo and the London Palladium.
After the cancellation of “Wonder Woman,” Carter maintained her small screen presence by acting in such TV films as “Born to Be Sold” (1981), “Rita Hayworth: The Love Goddess” (1983, starred in the title role of the silver screen goddess), the based-on-novel “Stillwatch” (1987, with Angie Dickinson and Don Murray), “Mike Hammer: Murder Takes All” (1989, opposite Stacy Keach), “Posing: Inspired by Three Real Stories” (1991), “When Friendship Kills” (1996), “Family Blessings” (1996), “A Prayer in the Dark” (1997), and “Someone to Love Me: A Moment of Truth Movie” (1998). She also played the regular role of Carole Stanwyck on detective series “Partners in Crime” (1984) and guest starred as Elizabeth Shields in a 1994 episode of the adventure series “Hawkeye.” Meanwhile, on the big screen, she only made a single appearance, as Charlotte Furber, in the independent drama “Lightning in a Bottle” (1993), helmed by Jeff Kwitny and penned by Jonnie Lindsell.
In the early 1980s, Carter found success as the spokesperson of Maybelline Cosmetics. Within one year, she helped the company triple their income from $70 million to over $200 million. 1980 also saw Carter institute the Lynda Carter/Maybelline Tennis Challenge, which went on to become an annual event in Palm Springs California, and receive the Gold Poster Award for the best selling poster of Pro Arts Inc. Her first of five television specials, “Lynda Carter's Special,” was also aired in 1980.
Back to film after an 8 year hiatus, Carter took on the small role of Natalie Jessman in the 2001 comedy film “Super Troopers,” directed and co-written by Jay Chandrasekhar. She followed it up with a costarring role on the comedy/horror “The Creature of the Sunny Side Up Trailer Park” in 2004. In between the projects, she starred as Dr. Janet Fraser on the made-for-TV film “Terror Peak” and made a guest appearance in the sitcom “Hope & Faith” (both 2003).
It was in 2005 that Carter received two high-profile roles. First, she was cast alongside Kurt Russell and Kelly Preston in the Mike Mitchell teen comedy “Sky High,” playing Principal Powers, and then appeared as Pauline in the movie version of “The Dukes of Hazzard,” which starred Johnny Knoxville, Seann William Scott and Jessica Simpson. The same year, she also landed a guest spot as Lorraine Dillon on the NBC popular series “Law & Order: SVU,” a role she reprised a year later on “Law & Order,” and returned to her musical roots as prison warder Mama Morton in the London stage production of “Chicago.”
The following year, Carter was featured with Casper Van Dien on the TV film “Slayer” and played Mary Alice on the 15-minute short “Tempbot,” directed by Neill Blomkamp. She next appeared as Moira Sullivan in a 2007 episode of “Smallville.”
Carter is set to play Abigail Foxworth in the upcoming drama film “Between Heaven and Earth” (2008), opposite Keith David.
TV Land: Superest Super Hero, “Wonder Woman,” 2004
Washington Mystics: Achievements Award, 2000
Gold Two: South America's Most Popular Actress and Performer, 1980
Ariel (Mexican Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences): International Entertainer of The Year, 1980