Lynda Carter, famous for her role as Wonder Woman, didn’t have it easy all the time. She struggled to earn her place as one of the most iconic female roles in recent history.
People either ‘wanted to be her, or be her best friend,’ and that is still true to this day. We may still pay homage to Wonder Woman with new adaptations, but there will never be another heroine like Lynda Carter.
She started her career early, at the age of five, when she participated in the Lew King Ranger Show. Even though her performance was not particularly remarkable, she managed to get some exposure from it.
Although she was always a stand-out from her peers, it wasn’t always in a good way. Curiously enough, she was not known primarily for being beautiful and talented, as we know her now, but for being tall and thin.
Her peers mockingly called her “Olive Oyl” — the girl that Popeye loved so much — for her tall frame and dark hair. Carter was so much taller than her peers that she was even rejected as a cheerleader in school. According to Groovy History, “Lynda Carter has been quoted as saying, ‘I was taller than all the boys except the tackles on the football team.’”
She studied classical dance and drama throughout her youth, but Carter chose music as her career path. She started singing in a local pizza joint that paid her $25 a week, barely enough to survive. Her cousin, Gary Burghoff, asked her to start a band with him after a brief stint with her previous group.
The band was tellingly called The Relatives. After some gigs in Las Vegas, life on the road became too much for Carter so she decided to quit her music career and she returned back home, where she entered a local beauty pageant. In 1973, Lynda Carter was crowned Miss U.S.A.
This was crucial for her career as it gave her confidence in her looks. She finally realized that she was not only Olive Oyl, but a people woman with lots of potential. Carter enrolled in acting classes. We’re lucky that this happened, or else we would not have the feminist heroine Wonder Woman!
She moved to L.A. in search of the role that would bring her well-deserved fame. Like many aspiring actors and actresses pursuing a Hollywood career, she struggled financially.
Carter’s parents were generous enough to scrape together some money for her before she managed to get the career she wanted so much. She auditioned for the role of Wonder Woman in 1974 but lost out to Cathy Lee Crosby. A year later she tried again, but never hoped to score the part.
She thought about giving up and going back home to Arizona because money was so low. As she said in a 2004 documentary, “I had $25 left in my bank account when I got the call from my agent that I got Wonder Woman.”
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She bet against all odds and won out over 2,000 other women who participated in the audition. The first filming was scheduled weeks later, so Carter had to borrow money for her rent as the $25 she had couldn’t cut it. We wouldn’t have had the first iconic Wonder Woman if it weren’t for her perseverance.