Lynda Carter looks great at 63 today
Her lustrous brown mane frames cheekbones the size of Texas, with only the faintest of wrinkles gracing her porcelain face atop a still-slender figure with more curves than a roller-coaster.
Wonder Woman star Lynda Carter looks amazing for her age – at least two decades younger than her 63 years – and credits the luck of her gene pool for her fresh-faced good looks.
Perhaps that’s not surprising for the former Miss USA and Miss World semi-finalist who is also a velvet-voiced jazz singer poised to embark on a US concert tour this month, but she laughs: “Everything is dropping.
Yet those same genes also bequeathed her a terrible legacy: alcoholism.
Astonishingly, her features show no sign of the ravages of her past battles with booze and the traumatic break-up of her first marriage, though the emotional scars run deep.
“Alcoholism is an abyss,” she says.
“You are terrified of the addiction.
“You just can’t stop.
“The disease has taken over, it is not a matter of having will-power.
“Addiction feels so shameful but it really is a disease, and if you have got the gene that turns it on, it is devastating.
“It destroys families and lives.
“It is not a choice.”
Lynda, who became the world’s highest-paid TV actress during her five years playing Wonder Woman in the 1970s, has overcome stigma before: after becoming a beauty queen, and then after being stereotyped as a TV comic-book heroine.
“I didn’t intend to become a beauty queen and only entered as a lark,” she says.
But in the space of 20 days she was crowned Miss Phoenix, Miss Arizona, and became Miss USA, heading to the Miss World contest in London in 1972.
“I didn’t really enjoy it that much,” she says.
“I’d been singing since I was 14 and on the road since high school, and I was very independent.
“Then I was Miss USA and had to have a chaperone, and spent a year opening supermarkets.
“It was all so silly, wearing a crown and banner when it was the 1970s and women’s liberation was everywhere.
“That was quite a stigma to overcome.”
Lynda moved to Hollywood but struggled to find work as an actress and was down to her last $25 when she won the role of Wonder Woman.
“I never considered quitting acting but I was trying to figure out how I was going to pay the rent, and would have to get a regular job,” she says.
Wonder Woman transformed her life, paying her $1,500 an episode, and $1million for the second season.
Lynda as Wonder Woman, in the outfit that made her famous
“I loved every minute of it,” she says.
“I couldn’t wait to get up in the morning and get to work.
“Wonder Woman remains popular because it wasn’t about brawn, it was about brains.
“It is less about super powers and more about heart and intellect, and a sense of right and wrong.
“There is a part of Wonder Woman inside me and inside every woman, kind of that secret self that women share.
“We are all caretakers, giving birth, caring for our children and companions and loved ones.”
Wonder Woman ended in 1979 but has remained on TVs worldwide in reruns ever since – yet Lynda receives no royalties.
“None,” she sighs.
She signed a deal that assured her a share of the show’s “net profits,” but with “Hollywood accounting” after four decades the series has yet officially to turn a profit.
“I should be getting money but I don’t,” she says.
“But there is a resurgence of interest in Wonder Woman and there is my likeness on a new slot machine, a digital comicbook, dolls and figures, so I get a share of that.”
And Wonder Woman should see a bigger revival with the future release of the hotly anticipated movie Batman v Superman: Dawn Of Justice, starring Ben Affleck as the Caped Crusader and featuring Wonder Woman played by Fast & Furious 6 star Gal Gadot, a former Miss Israel.
“I hope that the film is good,” says Lynda.
“It is odd that it is an Israeli actress and not an American but she seems to be very pretty and I wish her well.
“Nobody has contacted me but I would happily do a cameo if that’s something that everybody involved wanted.”
Fans have attacked the movie for making Wonder Woman a subsidiary role, and screen siren Megan Fox said she wouldn’t want the role because Wonder Woman is a “lame superhero” – her super-weaponry comprising an invisible flying jet and a “lasso of truth”.
But Lynda says: “It’s not a bad way to reintroduce her that way.
“I think they are going to do a Wonder Woman movie afterwards, directed by a woman and written by a woman, as it should be.”
Like TV’s Batman star Adam West, Lynda felt the stigma of stereo typing as she tried to move on after playing Wonder Woman.
“That’s a tough one, always playing the heroine,” she laughs.
“But regretting it doesn’t advance you in any way.
“I’ve decided to embrace it.
“It’s part of my life.
“It could have been the last thing I ever did.”
Instead, Lynda continues to work on TV movies and guest appearances, in addition to her singing and campaigning for breast cancer and bowel disease research.
Wonder Woman remains popular because it wasn’t about brawn, it was about brains
She still keeps Wonder Woman’s star-spangled corset at home but insists she doesn’t slip into it for kinky nights with her husband.
“It’s pretty fragile at this point,” she says of the costume.
After the end of Wonder Woman, Lynda found her five-year marriage to her business manager Ron Samuels crumbling in 1982.
“I hope he forgives me, and I have forgiven him, because it was painful for both people,” she said at the time.
Her booze problem escalated after marrying second husband, lawyer Robert Altman, in 1984 and moving from Hollywood to Washington DC.
“I wasn’t an alcoholic during Wonder Woman,” she says.
“It’s a gradual process.
“I didn’t even start drinking until my mid-20s.
“I wasn’t dealing with my emotional difficulties in my first marriage.
“I didn’t drink during my pregnancies but I wasn’t really present for my two children, though my kids never saw me out of control.
“But when I had a drink I couldn’t stop.
“Most people have a drink and feel a little high but I’d feel nothing.
“My liver doesn’t process alcohol until I’ve had three drinks.
“Then I’d fall off the cliff or under the table.
“Most people with an addiction problem are terrified and don’t know if they can get out of it.
“It feels so dreadfully final.
“You’ve alienated people…” her voice fades away.
“It’s just devastating.
Lynda with her husband Robert Altman in 2011
“I had a genetic predisposition for alcoholism.
“My mother and father didn’t drink but there’s a lot of it on my mother’s side of the family.
“It happened over a period of time.
“It’s not like methamphetamine or heroin, where you get hooked and that’s it.
“I didn’t drink all the time.
“But your body begins to fight whatever toxins are in your liver and over a period of time you begin to crave it.
“Finally my husband asked me: ‘Can’t you just stop this, for the children and for me?’”
His desperate pleas were enough to make Lynda enter rehab, sober up and reclaim her life.
“I try to help others and I’d like to take the stigma out of alcoholism.
“But I don’t struggle with it.
“I know I will never drink again.
“I’ve been sober 18 years.
“Now I’m focused on health, not perfection.
“I row my boat on the river, I swim, ski, walk, lift weights, do yoga and Pilates.
“I don’t want to be a weak, sick 90-year-old.”
And she admits having a little help from her friends Botox and Restylane.
“Yeah, but I don’t do a lot of it,” she says.
“I don’t have a frozen face like an old-timey nutcracker where the jaw goes up and down and nothing else moves.”
Lynda will need all her energy as she embarks on a US concert tour later this month, supporting her CD Crazy Little Things.
“I sing because I love it,” she says.
“People may come to my shows because they are curious about Wonder Woman but I hope they return because they enjoy my singing.
“My kids are gone, my husband works, I’m not one of those ladies-who-lunch – what else am I going to do?”
- For all information on Lynda, her new CD and her shows go to lyndacarter.com.