Lynda Carter began her career as a singer. She performed in a band during high school called Just Us, which consisted of a marimba, a congo drum, an acoustic guitar, and a stand-up bass played by another girl. When she was 17 she joined another band for more exposure called The Relatives (because two members were cousins) which opened at the Sahara Hotel casino lounge in Las Vegas for three months. Because Lynda was under 21 she had to enter the casino through the kitchen. Gary Burghoff (who played Radar O’Reilly in “M*A*S*H”) was the drummer. In 1970 she joined the last band she sang with, called The Garfin Gathering with Lynda Carter, and their first performance was in a brand new San Francisco hotel that had no sidewalk entrance built yet, so they played to mostly the janitors and whatever hotel guests parked their cars in the underground garage. But she performed so well under such intimidating circumstances that Howard “Speedy” Garfin nicknamed Lynda “Wonder Woman”!
After touring extensively with various rock bands, appearing in venues from Las Vegas to the Catskills, Carter entered the Miss World USA contest. Winning the crown in the 1970s, Carter then embarked on her career as an actress. She soon found success as the star of the hugely popular television series Wonder Woman, a beloved show still being broadcast today in countries around the world. Other starring roles in television series followed, including Partners in Crime with Loni Anderson, and the frontier drama Hawkeye.
In addition to her television series work, Carter has starred in numerous television films including “Family Blessings,” “Secrets Between Friends” and “She Woke Up Pregnant,” all three ranking in the top ten. She both produced and starred in the films “Hotline,” “Stillwatch,” “Born to be Sold” and “The Last Song ;” had leading roles in the films “Daddy” and “Posing” and the title role in “Rita Hayworth: The Love Goddess.”
Carter produced and hosted a series of five Emmy-winning television network variety specials featuring her singing and dancing (where she appeared with such guests stars as Ray Charles, Kenny Rogers, George Benson, Merle Haggard and Tom Jones). Carter continues to appear as a live entertainer on stage around the world, including headline performances in Las Vegas, Lake Tahoe, Reno, Atlantic City, Monte Carlo and the London Palladium.
In 2007, Carter appeared in two of the summer’s hit motion pictures, Warner Bros. “The Dukes of Hazzard” and “Sky High” for Disney. She also starred in “Bloodhead” directed by Christopher Coppola, and appears in the comedy film, “Super Troopers”. She was also a featured performer in “Lightning in a Bottle” and “Terror Peak” for PAX television, and “Bobbie Jo and the Outlaw.”
There are days that Lynda Carter still feels like Wonder Woman, her well-known TV alter ego, and one of those was earlier this month when she discovered that her new jazz-tinged CD At Last (2009) had hit the Billboard charts. “As someone who started out as a singer, it’s always been a dream to be on the Billboard chart,” says Carter. “When I found out, I just danced around my room for a minute.”
At Last shows off Carter’s supple vocalizing on a host of standards, ranging from “Cloudburst” to “Summertime”, James Taylor’s “The Secret of Life”, “Where Did Our Love Go”, and the title tune, all of which she’s performed in various nightclub acts and concert venues. Her song selection, while eclectic, is always based on what speaks to her - whether it’s the melody or the lyric. “It’s really about the whole vision of the story I’m trying to tell,” says Carter.
She first began planning the CD when she returned to nightclub singing in Los Angeles a couple of years ago, and did some studio recordings there - and then further developed the CD after meeting up with producer John Carter Cash in Nashville. “I liked the more open sound John brought to arrangements,” she says. “I’m always afraid that things can sound a bit monochromatic in recordings.”
As it happens Carter originally envisioned a career as a singer, but that part of her life has been on the back burner for a long while. “When I started acting, people told not to tell directors I could sing,” she says. “And then once I became famous as an actress, people saw me as an actor who wanted to sing rather than a singer. Then, once I had my kids, I didn’t want to be on the road doing shows. But I love live performing, especially because I get to be with other people on stage. There’s not that same kind of interaction when you do television.”
Not surprisingly, Carter has already started thinking about another CD, although what songs will end up on it are still to be determined. “There are so many songs I want try out, but I have to see if there’s a special way I want to do them,” she says. “For example, I vowed to never sing ‘The Look of Love’ again after having done it in so many lounge acts; but one day, I was listening to this flamenco guitarist, and I came up with a new and sexy way to sing it. So you never know.”
In addition to her career as an actress and entertainer, Carter has been featured in a number of national advertising campaigns. Among other advertisers, Carter was asked to serve as Beauty and Fashion Director for Maybelline Cosmetics, and for thirteen years appeared as Maybelline’s “face” to the public in print and broadcast advertising campaigns.
Born in Phoenix, Arizona, Carter has been involved in many charitable causes, including a pioneering role with the Susan G. Komen Foundation (for breast cancer education and research) from whom she received the Jill Ireland Award for volunteerism, the Red Cross, U.S.O., Ronald McDonald House, and many charities benefiting children.
Carter lives outside Washington, D.C. with her husband, attorney and businessman Robert Altman, and their two children, James and Jessica.