Do You Remember? Wonder Woman

Based on Charles Moulton’s 1940’s comic superhero, Wonder Woman first hit the live-action airwaves in a 1974 made-for-TV movie, starring Cathy Lee Crosby as the great one and Ricardo Montalban as her enemy. Another TV movie came the following year, and this time, former Miss World USA Lynda Carter did all of Ms. Wonder’s jumping and the heavy lifting. Not only was Crosby gone, but the miniskirt costume she wore was scratched, too. Carter, from there on out, would fill out the sparkly, skimpy corset number we know and love today, the design of which came straight out of the comic books.

After a successful second and third TV movie, ABC launched a series called The New, Original Wonder Woman in 1976. Ratings were high, and the show’s writers diligently kept to the comic book’s 1940’s setting and tone—the bad guys were usually Nazis, and the duke-outs were usually “Bam! Boom!” comic book colorful.

According to Ms. Wonder’s comic book mythology, there was an all-woman island named Themyscira, populated by a group of Amazon lovelies who had fled there around 200 B.C. to escape male domination by ancient Greeks and Romans. There on the island, the ladies found a mineral called “Feminum,” which had magical powers. It could be mined, incorporated into metal or fiber, and then pounded—depending on your accessory whim—into things like belts or bracelets. The bracelets could deflect bullets, the tiara could be hurled like a boomerang, and when Ms. Wonder wrapped her golden lasso around someone, that someone told the absolute truth whether he wanted to or not.

During World War II, pilot Steve Trevor crash-landed on Paradise Island (so named because it’s a heck of a lot easier to say than Themyscira). After the voluptuous Amazons nursed him back to health, an athletic contest was held to see which lucky lady would usher him back to America, and thereby become a kind of ambassador for the Themysciran message of peace. Diana’s protective mother insisted she stay clear of the games, but in a blond wig disguise, Diana defied her mom’s wishes and won.

Now, with a cover as an army secretary named Diana Prince, the Amazonian princess left the utopian island for the big, bad, crime-ridden, men-everywhere real world. Diana typed, filed, and cooed at Steve from behind her dark-rimmed glasses, but when the situation demanded, she hastily snuck off to a private spot and did her flashy transformative spin—arms akimbo, lights flashing, and street clothes disappearing to reveal her snazzy heroine get-up. Then with super strength and her feminum-boosted accessories, she’d kick some 1940’s butt—butts that belonged to foes like Baron Paula von Gunther, Fausta, and Nazi spies too numerous to mention.

When the show moved to CBS in 1977, there were several changes. The setting became present-day instead of the wartime 40s, and it was renamed The New Adventures of Wonder Woman. Lyle Waggoner was still Diana’s male counterpart, but now he played Steve Trevor, Jr.—his first character’s son. Because modern times always mean a lot of acronyms, the good guys toiled away for the IADC (the Inter-Agency Defense Command) and chatted with the computer IRA (Internal Retrieval Associative), who was the only one that knew of Diana Prince’s true identity. Wonder Woman had special outfits for swimming and motorcycle riding, and instead of the ubiquitous Nazis, she squared off against the likes of aliens and robots, and of course, the occasional psychic disco vampire.

Whatever the period in which she performed her heroine duties, and whoever her villains, we thank our lucky stars (like the ones that appeared all over her costume) for Paradise Island—because our lives wouldn’t be the same without a couple of all-girl utopian locales, be they fictional or not. Thank you for Paradise Island, for the Amazon beauties it begat, and most especially, for the heroine it so graciously exported.

About Mickey Yarber 237 Articles
Editor-in-Chief Sometimes referred to as the Retro Rambler...I was born in the '70s, grew up in the '80s, and came of age in the '90s. I love to share all the fun stuff from those years via my Retro Ramblings column.

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