The Secrets About Lynda Carter’s Iconic Wonder Woman Outfit That Even Hardcore Fans May Not Know

Think of Wonder Woman, and you can’t help but picture that iconic red, white and blue outfit. Perhaps you’ve even put on that patriotic leotard for Halloween! But even if you sat fixed to the screen every week as Lynda Carter kicked butt, there’s a lot you don’t know about the costume – as well as the woman inside it. And some of those secrets may even leave you stunned…

15. The costume had to be changed after season one

As the original Wonder Woman comic book debuted during WWII, the producers of the ’70s TV show initially decided to set the show during that very same time period. Diana Prince had a slightly different costume, too, featuring a resplendent eagle – a blatant nod to the U.S., perhaps? But when the series shifted networks, it was all change.

After the first season of the show, ABC no longer wanted to spend money on expensive WWII sets – meaning it ultimately dropped the series from its schedules. Fortunately for fans, CBS picked up Wonder Woman instead and switched the action to the present day. And that wasn’t the only change to be had. That famous costume was updated to feature gold stripes instead of the eagle. Luckily, it was more flattering on Carter as well.

14. The bracelets have a fascinating history

The “father” of Wonder Woman was actually a pretty interesting guy himself. William Moulton Marston was a psychologist who – rather unusually for the 1920s – was in a throuple for a period with his wife, Elizabeth, and ex-student Olive Byrne. And as Byrne often wore big bracelets, Marston paid a sort of tribute to her by incorporating the jewelry into his Wonder Woman design.

But that wasn’t all. Marston also had an interest in tying people up, and this, too, found its way into Wonder Woman lore. In a 1942 interview with the show Family Circle, he said, “Wonder Woman and her sister Amazons have to wear heavy bracelets to remind them of what happens to a girl when she lets a man conquer her.”


And if Wonder Woman ever took off the bracelets, she could potentially go mad. This was all changed for the show, unsurprisingly, where the accessories are instead made out of “feminum” – a metal found on the Paradise Island home of the Amazons. But who knew the jewelry had such a risqué backstory?

13. Swimwear proved a problem


Ever admired the outfits on Wonder Woman? Well, you have Donfeld, a.k.a. Donald Lee Feld, to thank. He even earned an Emmy for his work on the Wonder Woman episode “Anschluss ’77.” But despite all of Feld’s design know-how, the one thing he couldn’t do was make a Wonder Woman bikini that would stay on Carter.

There were lots of, well, wardrobe malfunctions when it came to the bikini, and that absolutely wouldn’t fly on network television. So, Feld eventually made Wonder Woman’s underwater outfit a tight-fitting blue wetsuit. To be fair, that’s probably easier to fight crime in than a two-piece…

12. A stuntwoman also wore the suit


Yes, like many Hollywood stars, Lynda Carter had a body double on set. Stuntwoman Jeannie Epper took up that role, although she had a knockback before getting there. Rather incredibly, Epper claimed that she had lost a job on The Bionic Woman for having the wrong size breasts! And even when she auditioned to become Carter’s stunt double, she had to show up in swimwear.

But it was all fine in the end, according to Epper herself. Speaking to NPR in 2005, she mused, “I think why it worked so well is I could move exactly like Lynda moved, and it was unlike [how] I moved. I moved more like Lindsay Wagner – more of the jock, athletic kind of running. And I just learned to become Lynda. It’s like an actor can adapt to character.”

Epper added, “You actually have to become an actress. And you have to be able to know how to not look at the camera and yet not look like you’re not looking at the camera, you know.” She also mentioned that she and Carter had become friends, saying, “Lynda and I bonded fairly soon. I’m a watcher at first, and I want to know how actresses are going to feel about me.”


11. Carter had to maintain her weight

Being Wonder Woman may look fun, but behind the scenes Carter needed to be regimented. In order to fit into that famous costume for episode after episode, she had to maintain a strict diet and exercise program. “I had to stay in shape, because when you’re wearing a costume like that you can’t be eating doughnuts. But I was in my twenties, and I had the body for it – which I totally took for granted,” Carter told the Daily Express in 2010.

However, the actress may not have wanted to drop the pounds, either. In any case, she dislikes the way that so many female stars are made to shed a lot of weight. “I’m so sick of seeing these anorexic actresses,” she told Extra back in 2007. “These people are crazy. Any place else in the country besides New York and LA, and they would be in a hospital.”


Carter now promotes good exercise and healthy eating. In 2018 she told Energy Times magazine, “I eat whatever I want. I just cut down on the portion size. It’s all about portion control, portion control, portion control. I have a better relationship with food now, but I struggle with my weight.”

10. There was a cowgirl variant of the costume


One of Lynda Carter’s favorite Wonder Woman episodes is season one’s “The Bushwhackers.” Why? Well, it featured none other than Roy Rogers! And that cameo by the Western legend excited the show’s lead. “Working with Roy was a thrill because I was a huge fan, and I still have the script he signed for me,” Carter told the Daily Express in 2010. But there’s something else you should know about that installment of the show: it featured a much more modest cowgirl-style Wonder Woman outfit.

That ensemble was spectacular in itself, mind, but why was the change made in the first place? Perhaps it was because the regular costume doesn’t exactly lend itself well to riding a horse. Rumor also has it that Rogers, with his conservative views, insisted his co-star show less skin.

9. The outfit is popular with drag queens


When Carter sat down for a chat with Out magazine in 2012, she was asked, “Do you remember the first time you saw a drag queen dressed as Wonder Woman?” And the star reminisced in return, “I do remember the first time my son saw one. He was with me once when I was singing in San Francisco, and a big drag queen came to the show dressed to the nines. She was great!”

“My son’s reaction was priceless, and we loved it,” Carter continued. “I will say that some of the funniest ones I’ve seen are the Wonder Woman drag queens with the big pot bellies and tons of hair on their chests. Those are the best, and I’ve had my fair share of those viewing opportunities.”

8. Carter did stunts in the costume


Turns out that Carter was a secret daredevil when she made Wonder Woman! And here’s a case in point. In a scene where Diana was supposed to hang from a helicopter, Epper naturally considered that her cue to step up. But when it was obvious on camera that the stuntwoman was a double, Carter decided to just do the whole thing herself. The producers were reportedly livid.

And that was despite the fact that Carter had a brush with disaster during her first stunt on the Wonder Woman set. In 1976 she told Johnny Carson that, in one particular scene, she had been tasked with jumping over a car on wires. She misjudged the leap, however, and ultimately crashed right into the vehicle. Ouch!

“You got to remember this was an era where they were just barely allowing people to know there were doubles,” Epper recalled in her 2005 NPR interview. “For many, many, many years, all the actors and actresses said they did their own stunt work.” Of course, in Carter’s case, that was partly true.


7. The spin effect was tricky

What’s one of a superhero’s most important skills? Well, flying and incredible speed are pretty nifty, but being able to easily change from their civilian clothes into their crime-fighting costume is important, too. Still, Wonder Woman couldn’t just shuffle into a phone box like Superman, so the producers needed another trick. And eventually they hit upon the solution: Diana would just spin around, and in a flash she’d be there in her satin tights as her alter ego.

Making this move look good on camera was easier said than done. The slo-mo effect used during the first few episodes of the show proved just too complex and expensive to continue with for long. So, the flash was born! Off screen, of course, Carter was really just slipping into her outfit as normal.


You should also know that the whole spinning trick was actually Carter’s idea. In 2005 she told Entertainment Weekly that while the producers were working on different plans for the costume-change scenes, she came up with something better. “I was a dancer, so I said, ‘I can do a pirouette or a spin.’ They put in the explosion later,” the star explained.

6. The colors were important


Carter’s not the only on-screen Wonder Woman, of course, although some may consider her the best. In recent years, Israeli actress Gal Gadot has also donned the famous headband in 2017 superhero flick Wonder Woman and its 2020 follow-up Wonder Woman 1984. But what fans may know is that Gadot’s costume is a little less colorful than Carter’s had been. And the star of the ’70s TV series seemingly wasn’t impressed by the change.

In a 2014 interview with Nerdist, Carter said, “One thing that is missing from that great photograph [Warner Brothers] released of Gal Gadot… I mean, she looks really great in [the costume], but where are the colors? Where’s the red, white, and blue?” And the interviewer agreed with her, although Carter added, “I’m sure she’ll be great. She’s lovely.”

In the end, Carter was actually won over. Speaking during a 2020 DC Fandome event, she explained, “When my daughter first saw Gal as Wonder Woman, she said, ‘Mom, I finally get it. I finally understand why everyone idolizes you. I finally get what Wonder Woman means to everyone.’ And that’s my daughter! That’s my flesh and blood. So, thank you, Gal. Thank you, [director] Patty [Jenkins].”


5. Carter hated being a pin-up girl

There was no denying that many viewers were attracted to Carter as Wonder Woman, but the actress wasn’t happy about her good looks being the main focus of attention. In 1980 she told Us Weekly, “I never meant to be a sexual object for anyone but my husband.”

“I never thought a picture of my body would be tacked up in men’s bathrooms,” Carter added. “I hate men looking at me and thinking what they think. And I know what they think. They write and tell me.” Even worse, Carter once found a peephole in her dressing room. Thankfully, the man responsible for the gross invasion of privacy would go on to be fired.


And in 2018 Carter looked back on the sexual harassment she’d faced as a TV star. Speaking in the wake of the #MeToo movement, she revealed to The Daily Beast, “I fended off my share [of unwanted attention, and] I’ve been afraid. [But] if a man tried something, I would say, ‘Are you kidding me?’… We were women’s lib, burn the bra. We weren’t going to take any **** from people.”

4. Diana had to wear a helmet


Wonder Woman’s closet also contained a “stunt suit” that was used if Diana got on a motorcycle. This ensemble was accompanied by a helmet and goggles – even though Diana was pretty much indestructible. Strange, don’t you think? But there was good reason for the safety equipment. Kids were watching, you see, and their hero needed to lead by example.

Children’s safety groups have long campaigned for TV and movie characters to wear protective clothing. That way, it sends the message to kids that they should do the same. And Diana was cautious even when she was on four wheels instead of two. Yep, she also had a helmet on while skateboarding – as well as a pair of arm pads.

3. Carter kept some of the costumes


If you’d portrayed one of the most iconic heroines in TV history, you’d want to take home some of her clothes, wouldn’t you? Well, Carter did, anyway. In 2016 she told Fox News, “I happen to have one of the costumes from the [first season’s] ’40s [era] and one of them from the updated version… They’re falling apart in a closet somewhere.”

And when the 2017 Wonder Woman movie hit theaters, Carter even suggested that Gal Gadot should follow her lead. But the actress may yet dig one of her own keepsakes out of that closet. When an interviewer from The Baltimore Sun asked if her own Wonder Woman outfit shouldn’t go to a museum, Carter replied, “If they help me restore one of them, I will certainly allow them to show it.”

Not only that, but Carter snuck home some of her Wonder Woman accessories as well. In 2020 she announced on Instagram, “For many years, Wonder Woman fans have asked, ‘Do you still have the bracelets?’… The answer is yes. I do have the bracelets, and wearing them still makes me feel like a total bad***!”


2. The bracelets had pyrotechnics inside

Every time Wonder Woman needed to block a bullet, special effects had to be employed on screen. And as this was before the days of CGI, that left the showmakers resorting to real-life technical wizardry. Inside the stars on Diana’s bracelets were tiny pyrotechnics with connecting wires attached. Then, when sparks needed to fly, she simply pressed a button.

This method wasn’t without its flaws, though. For a start, keeping a remote control out of sight is pretty tricky, meaning the more eagle-eyed viewers of the show may have spotted a glimpse of the device tucked away in Carter’s palm. And while the effect certainly looked amazing, it also goes without saying that it was pretty risky to pull off.


1. Carter thinks the costume isn’t sexual

When the United Nations made Wonder Woman an Honorary Ambassador back in 2016, some folks weren’t pleased. And, no, it wasn’t just because the role would be better fulfilled by a real woman instead – although that was one of the complaints raised. Apparently, the character was also deemed too sexual to be a role model. Carter was furious at this assertion, and the following year she told Entertainment Weekly, “All this stuff about costumes – ‘Oh, it’s exploitive and blah, blah, blah.’ Give me a break. You can’t say that the sock in the pants of Superman wasn’t.”

Then, after telling critics to “get over it,” Carter continued, “That’s a woman’s body. We are all that. We’ve always been that, but we’re also every other shape and color and size. It’s not our problem [what we look like], it’s yours. I am a woman. This is how I look. I’m smart, and I’m this and I’m that as well. I don’t understand the threat that women represent.”


And Carter has stood up for others in the costume, too. When James Cameron slammed Gal Gadot’s version of the character for wearing a “bustier” and “form-fitting” outfit, the actress took to social media to send her own rather disgruntled message to the Avatar director.

Speaking directly to Cameron, Carter pointedly wrote on Facebook, “Perhaps you do not understand the character. I most certainly do. Your thuggish jabs at a brilliant director, Patty Jenkins, are ill-advised. This movie [Wonder Woman] was spot on. Gal Gadot was great. I know, Mr. Cameron – because I have embodied this character for more than 40 years.” Burn!


But in the decades since Carter played Wonder Woman on TV, she’s not been idle. She’s taken on more roles on the small screen, lent her voice to video games and even recorded albums. Along with her husband, Robert, she’s also become a parent to two kids. And luckily for Jessica, the actress’ daughter, she appears to have inherited her famous mom’s striking good looks.

Way before Jessica was born, however, Carter first found fame as a pageant queen. She was just 21 years old, in fact, when she tried out for a beauty contest in Arizona – and earned the win. That victory made the future star the representative for Arizona at Miss World America 1972, and later that year she went on to the semifinals of the international Miss World competition.


This step into the spotlight also led Carter to explore the world of acting. In 1974 she made her screen debut as an adult in an episode of Nakia and went on to other small roles from there. Then, however, came the part that would define her career. And while executives thought that a female superhero wouldn’t draw audiences, they were ultimately very wrong indeed.

Carter became internationally famous, too – both for being Wonder Woman and for being stunningly attractive. When the action series was at its height in 1978, she was even named “the most beautiful woman in the world” – an impressive accolade indeed – by the International Academy of Beauty and the British Press Organisation.


But after her rise to fame, Carter didn’t rest on her laurels; instead, she pursued a second career as a singer. And in 1978 she told People, “People see me in a bathing suit every Friday night on TV, [but] I’m determined to make it on my talent – not my bosom. Singing is something I’ve been doing all my life, and I want people to know it.”

Furthermore, Carter seemed to have mixed feelings about being lauded for her looks. She explained to People, “I wasn’t the beautiful blond cupcake when I was growing up. I’ve been skinny, and I’ve been heavy. I wear glasses. I’m a real person. I’ve learned how to look great without wearing any makeup except a little bit of blusher and some mascara.”


And in 1980 Carter went even further, telling Us Weekly, “I never meant to be a sexual object for anyone but my husband. I never thought a picture of my body would be tacked up in men’s bathrooms. I hate men looking at me and thinking what they think. And I know what they think. They write and tell me.”

Back then, Carter’s husband had been movie producer Ron Samuels. They had wed in 1977, when Carter was 25, but would ultimately part ways in 1982. And many years later, in December 2019, the actress said to Closer magazine of the marriage, “[Samuels] was a lot older [than me], and I was just stupid.”


Not long after her divorce from Samuels, however, Carter met Robert Altman – a lawyer who ran a thriving firm in Washington, D.C. And the pair wasted little time in taking their relationship to the next step, tying the knot in 1984. It was at this point, moreover, that Carter was starting to tire of the celebrity lifestyle.

Nevertheless, the actress still earned column inches – including, in 1985, a Washington Post feature on her new marriage. Of Carter, the newspaper said, “She is tall, 5 feet, 9 inches, with generous bust and hips and small waist. Her features are prom queen pert, punctuated by masses of dark hair and huge, darkly outlined turquoise eyes. It’s easy to see how she won the part of Wonder Woman.”


And speaking to the newspaper, Altman explained that he had fallen for Carter after being asked to attend a dinner with the star. He revealed, “I knew she was a good-looking actress who modeled for Maybelline, but I couldn’t quite place her… I thought the last thing I need is to go to dinner and get mixed up with some Hollywood actress.”

The lawyer continued, “I went. I sat next to [Carter], and we hit it off immediately. There was a strong and immediate attraction – even to the point that we were so very interested in one another that it seemed rude to the rest of the table. After that, I was definitely interested in seeing her. She was beautiful and fascinating – not at all what I had anticipated.”


And apparently Carter had shattered all of Altman’s preconceptions of a celebrity. He went on, “I expected someone who was narcissistic, self-important and full of herself. But [Carter] is unpretentious, warm, funny and bright. I wanted to see her again.” Nevertheless, he added, “I had no notion at the time that it was going to end up in marriage. I probably would have said, ‘It will be fun. That’s it.’”

During the Washington Post interview, Carter also talked about her singing career and her sex symbol status, saying, “I’ve never been va-va-voom. I’ve never felt that way on stage that I’m promoting sexuality. The dresses are cut that way, but my personality is not that way.”


And Carter went on, “I don’t want to alienate half the audience, which is female. You don’t have to play on it if it’s there visually… I’m not trying to turn anyone on. I’m just singing and dancing.” The interviewer asked Altman, however, if he felt that other women were ever jealous of his wife’s good looks.

Altman answered, “Simply stated, yes. You can tell from the sideways glances, looking her up and down, [and] the little remarks that are made. It’s obvious there is a sense of envy.” When it came to other men, meanwhile, the attorney claimed, “It’s all pretty good-natured. Nothing goes beyond the bounds of propriety… Crowds take to her.”


But it appeared that Carter had other plans beyond a life on stage and screen. Speaking to The Washington Post, she said, “I want to start a family. It’s time. I have the man I want. I have where I want to live. My brother and sister both have children. They started young. I’ve waited, and now it’s right.”

So the actress did exactly that, and she and Altman moved away from the bright lights of Hollywood and built a big house for themselves in Maryland. Then, in 1988, their first child, a son called James, was born, followed in 1990 by a girl called Jessica. And upon reflection, Carter appeared to have no regrets about leaving her career behind to become a mother.


In 2017 the now-65-year-old Carter told People of that period, “I spent a lot of time on movie sets – and that is being said in a way right now that I’m grateful for it — but I didn’t have a lot of substance in my life. I found that it was the person. It’s always the people in your life – the friends and family that you choose to spend time with.”

Carter went on, “It is every step you take that is the more difficult step in taking care of your children. The easy way out often ends up being the hardest. I think that the intellectual pursuits in our family were much more the focus of our lives.” Indeed, both James and Jessica had become lawyers in the interim.


And Carter was still considered a very beautiful woman – despite having received very little outside help in warding off the years. Yes, in 2018 the actress told Closer Weekly that her looks were almost completely natural, as all she’d ever had was “a little Botox.” She added, “I don’t think I’m ever going to go under the knife – I am what I am!”

How has Carter managed to still look good into her sixties? Well, in 2016 she revealed some tips and tricks to W magazine. To begin with, she related some of her mom’s own methods, saying, “[My mother] said, ‘Do not go out in the sun. If you do, you’ll end up like a prune or an old leather purse.’ At the time, there was no sun protection, so she’d wear hats and put cream on her face. And she used to give herself a facial with egg whites. She had no wrinkles on her face, and her hands were always soft.”


Carter had followed that advice, too. “I’ve stayed out of the sun, and I harp the same with my daughter,” she continued. “I have used Purpose soap for years and years and [did not wear] a lot of makeup. I would always use Coppertone For Faces Only on my hands when I drive and sunscreen, sunscreen, sunscreen!”

In the same interview, Carter was asked why Wonder Woman was always “done up like a sex bomb.” To this, the actress answered, “Wonder Woman was totally not a predatory female. It’s not in her wheelhouse at all. And I never played Wonder Woman; I always played [her alter-ego] Diana Prince. I always played her, and that’s just what she wore.”


But no matter what Wonder Woman wore or what she looked like, she was an inspiration to many – including Carter’s daughter, Jessica. And in May 2020 the young woman spoke to Forbes about her mother’s career and what the two of them shared. It appeared, too, that Jessica just so happened to look a lot like her famous mom.

Indeed, the media had been commenting for a while on the resemblance between the two women. For example, following the pair’s trip to a 2018 premiere of the movie Super Troopers 2, website Hollywood Life noted that Carter “look[ed] gorgeous at a red carpet alongside her twin of a daughter.”


But Jessica seemingly inherited her mother’s work ethic along with her flowing brunette hair, cheekbones and striking eyes. After graduating from the University of Michigan in both law and psychology, the young woman managed to land a position at the law firm Gibson Dunn & Crutcher.

And speaking to Forbes, Jessica said, “My mom inspires me daily.” She added that as a child, she had once raided her mother’s closet and found the famous television costume hanging there. Following this discovery, Jessica had then “put on the Wonder Woman crown, bracelets and lasso of truth and started running around the house pretending to be a superhero.”


And like her mother, Jessica was interested in music. She told the publication, “I have been singing for as long as I can remember. Whenever I would hear a song, I would immediately start singing and dancing around the kitchen.” She even decided to launch a career in that field, in fact.

Jessica wasn’t alone in her love for music, either. She told Forbes, “Whenever our parents went out, [my brother and I] would be home practicing. [Then] as soon as they came home, we would take them to the living room and perform. Looking back, I am amazed at [my parents’] patience after a long day to sit and watch us.”


And in the years since, Carter had done more than just that. Apparently, during Jessica’s time in law school, her mom had asked her to perform at the Kennedy Center. The young woman further explained, “My mother assembled a band of some of the greatest musicians in the world who are in the hall of fame and are some of the most recorded artists in history, yet they welcomed me like family and imparted invaluable lessons about performing.”

Then, following her bar exam, Jessica decided that she would try to follow both of her passions at the same time. She told Forbes, “Why should I quit? Who determined that it was impossible to pursue music and law? Simply because I do not know someone who has followed this path, [it] does not mean that I can’t.”


So, Jessica called her first record No Rules – and for good reason. She explained, “This EP started at the beginning of my legal career. I had to find a delicate balance between my responsibilities at my firm and my music. And throughout this process, I have discovered that, indeed, there are ‘no rules.’”

But Jessica wasn’t going to juggle two careers at the same time. She said to Forbes, “I recently decided to leave my law firm to pursue music full time. I am tremendously grateful to have had the opportunity to work with such a remarkable group of professionals, but [I] decided that I wanted to focus on a career in music.”


Of course, Jessica’s father had once been in the law, too. After being questioned about Altman, Jessica said, “He practiced as an attorney in Washington, D.C. for more than 25 years. But 20 years ago, he decided to pursue an artistic business and establish what is now a leading video game company. I guess the creative gene runs deep.”

And Jessica still retained a love of the legal world. She revealed, “I always knew I wanted to go to law school; I was just unsure where it would take me. My legal background has certainly helped me navigate the business side of music, but it has also instilled a certain kind of discipline that I rely on in pursuing music.”


The famous actress’ daughter continued to explain to the magazine, “The thing I love about being a lawyer is the ability to help people. The intellectual nature of law has always appealed to me. But there is no comparison to being able to use your knowledge and particular skill set to help someone.” That’s a very Wonder Woman mindset.

And people on social media have suggested that perhaps Jessica could play a version of Wonder Woman one day. Indeed, while actress Gal Gadot has most recently portrayed the character on the big screen, there’s still scope for the lawyer-turned-musician to eventually take on the role.


In the meantime, Carter herself has continued to sing Wonder Woman’s praises – even though she retired from the role long ago. During a 2019 preview for the Calgary Expo, she told the press, “[Wonder Woman] could protect herself and protect the people she cared about – for the right reasons. That’s why I think one of the reasons why my depiction of her was lasting or enduring.”

And while, to date, neither Carter nor her daughter have appeared in the modern-day Wonder Woman films, the veteran actress claims that director Patty Jenkins would be happy for her to make a cameo in a future movie. If that ever happens, perhaps she should bring Jessica along for the ride.