Lynda Jean Carter (born July 24, 1951) is an American actress and singer, best known for being Miss World USA and as the star of the 1970s television series The New Original Wonder Woman (1975–77) and The New Adventures of Wonder Woman (1977–79).
Carter was born Lynda Jean Carter in Phoenix, Arizona. Her father, Colby Carter, is an art dealer of English descent and her mother, Juana Córdova, is of Mexican descent with roots in Chihuahua, Mexico and previously worked in the telephone industry. Lynda speaks fluent Spanish. Carter grew up an avid reader of the Wonder Woman comic books. She went to Arcadia High School in Phoenix and Kachina Elementary School.
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 17, Lynda 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, Nevada, for three months; and, because Lynda was under 21, she had to enter through the kitchen. She attended Arizona State University and was a member of Alpha Xi Delta. After being voted "Most Talented," she dropped out to pursue a career in music. In 1970, Carter sang with The Garfin Gathering with Lynda Carter. 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 entered a local 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 U.S., she reached the semi-finals. After taking acting classes at several New York acting schools, she began making appearances on such TV shows as Starsky and Hutch, Cos, and Nakia and in "B-movies," including her only nude appearance, in Bobbie Jo and the Outlaw (1976).
Carter's acting career took off when she landed the starring role in The New Adventures of Wonder Woman as Wonder Woman and her alter ego Diana Prince. The savings her parents had set aside for her to pursue acting in Los Angeles was almost depleted, and she was close to returning to Arizona when her manager informed her that she had won the part. Her earnest performance endeared her to fans and critics, and the series lasted three seasons. Thirty years after first taking on the role, Carter continues to be closely identified with Wonder Woman.
In 1985, DC Comics named Carter 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 rendition of Wonder Woman to celebrate the DC Comics' 75th anniversary.
During the late 1970s, she 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 the 1979 Wonder Woman episode, "Amazon Hot Wax".
Carter's other credits include the title role in a biopic of Rita Hayworth, titled Rita Hayworth, Love Goddess (1983) and a variety of her own TV specials: Lynda Carter's Special (1980), Encore! (1980), Celebration (1981), Street Life (1982), and Body And Soul (1984). She starred in a few short-lived TV series, including Partners in Crime (1984) with Loni Anderson and Hawkeye (1994–95) with Lee Horsley. During this time, she also became a celebrity promotional model for Maybelline cosmetics commercials.
In 2001, Carter 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. 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 the comedy Sky High (2005) as "Principal Powers", the head 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." In 2006, she guest-starred in the made-for-cable vampire film Slayer. The following year, Lynda returned to the DC Comics' television world in the Smallville episode "Progeny" (2007) playing Chloe Sullivan's Kryptonite-empowered mother.
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, and The Kennedy Center in Washington, DC. 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 delightful mix of standards, country, and pop tunes.