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Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Lynda Carter, '70s Wonder Woman


Wonder Woo-man!


Lynda Carter Wonder Woman legends.filminspector.com
Lynda Carter.

Everybody seems to love Lynda Carter. How can you not? She managed the tremendously difficult feat of making a female superhero sympathetic and likable back when there were no female superheroes. As television's "Wonder Woman," Lynda remains one of the most beloved female action star icons, at least on a par with television's Lucy Lawless of "Xena: Warrior Princess" and film star Scarlett Johansson of "The Avengers." With a resurgence of interest in "Wonder Woman" due to the 2017 hit film starring Gal Gadot, it's time to take a look at the lovely original Wonder Woman.

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Lynda Carter and stuntman Bob Yerkes during filming of "The New Original Wonder Woman" in 1975.

Linda Jean Córdova Carter was born on July 24, 1951 in Phoenix, Arizona. Her Juanita Córdova is of Mexican, Spanish and French descent, while her father is Scots-Irish.

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Queen Hippolyta, played by Cloris Leachman, kissing Diana, played by Lynda Carter (Courtesy ABC).

Lynda became interested in show business at a young age, but her first love was singing. She appeared on a television talent show at age five, then in high school hooked up with some garage bands. This led to a few paying gigs in Las Vegas in the late 1960s, back when Vegas was still being built up from its dusty origins. So, if anyone ever asks you to name any '60s singers still working today... you can surprise them by answering Lynda Carter.

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Diana turning into Wonder Woman ultimately included a big flash (Courtesy CBS).

The Vegas gigs enabled Lynda to save up some money. After briefly attending Arizona State University, Lynda dropped out and continued singing. In 1972, she also decided to enter a local Arizona beauty contest. Why not? She was a stunningly pretty girl. And, you know what stunningly pretty girls do at beauty contests - they win them. And that's what Lynda Carter did, winning both the local contest and, ultimately, being crowned Miss World USA. Lynda even made it to the semifinals in the international pageant, losing the Miss World 1972 crown (in one of history's worst judging decisions) to Belinda Green of Australia.

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Lynda during filming of "Wonder Woman."

Capitalizing on her success in the pageant, Lynda decided to try acting. Her first credit was on a 1974 episode of short-lived Robert Forster ("Banyon") television series "Nakia." This led to other guest appearances and work as a Bob Hope USO cast member. However, these sorts of appearances weren't paying the bills.

Lynda Carter Wonder Woman legends.filminspector.com
While there were stuntwomen, the role of Wonder Woman required a lot of physicality (courtesy CBS).

Lynda auditioned for the role of DC Comics character Diana Prince/Wonder Woman in a proposed ABC Television series. This series was based on a 1974 television film which had starred former pro tennis player Cathy Lee Crosby in the title role. Crosby claims that she was offered the part in the subsequent television series, but that she turned it down. In any event, there was an opening for a new Wonder Woman.

Cathy Lee Crosby Wonder Woman legends.filminspector.com
An ad for the original television movie of "Wonder Woman," which starred Cathy Lee Crosby as the titular character.

The studio paired with Warner Brothers to retool the concept, which in the TV film was set in the present day more or less, to the original comic book concept set during World War II. Once this was done, ABC was ready to air the series beginning in late 1975. To hammer home that Wonder Woman would be the "original" version from the 1940s, the studio titled the pilot "The New Original Wonder Woman."

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Lynda with "Xena: Warrior Princess" star  Lucy Lawless.

Casting for the series came down to either Lynda Carter or Joanna Cassidy. While Cassidy went on to a stunning career of her own (which continues to this day), Lynda got the part. Incidentally, that brings up a subtle point, which is that virtually everybody associated with "Wonder Woman" became successful and continued to work into the 21st Century, meaning the show helped a lot of careers. But, let's get back to Lynda Carter.

Lynda Carter Wonder Woman legends.filminspector.com
The pilot showed Wonder Woman's origins on Paradise Island (courtesy ABC).

The show's creators decided to play the series "straight," but also to create a light atmosphere of camp. Now, some folks ask, "What exactly is camp?" That's actually a good question. We're not talking about summer camp here. It's a bit hard to define, but camp combines a tongue-in-cheek approach combined with underlying respect for the original material. That about sums up the television series "Wonder Woman," keeping everything light-hearted but managing not to descend into farce.

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Lynda with Jenny McCarthy.

The creators of the comic book character, and specifically Charles Moulton, intended Wonder Woman to be sort of "counter-programming" or a riposte to Superman. There are obvious similarities between Superman and Wonder Woman in the original DC comic books, and the television show retained them. These included the vivid costume, which the television faithfully reproduced. Other similarities between the characters were created for the show. While Superman in the George Reeves series would race into a telephone booth to change into his Superman outfit, the Wonder Woman of the television series did a signature spinning move, after a while accompanied by a blinding flash, to accomplish the same task. The series used the unusual device of actually showing comic book text during the title sequence and at times during the show itself.

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The stuntwomen got a real workout on "Wonder Woman" (courtesy CBS).

The pilot of "Wonder Woman" (actually, the second pilot when considering the television movie) aired on 7 November 1975 and set the background for the entire series. Lynda Carter's character is an Amazon princess, Diana, on Paradise Island in the Atlantic (no, not that Paradise Island). After an American pilot (Major Steve Trevor, played by Lyle Waggoner) bails out over the island, he needs to be brought back to the States by one of the Amazons. Lynda Carter's character volunteers to do this, and, after much controversy, is allowed to do so. Diana's mother, Queen Hippolyta, thoughtfully designs Diana's colorful costume for her, which Diana will wear throughout the series when she is acting as Wonder Woman (and not her disguised alter ego, Clark Kent, er, Diana Prince). By the end of the pilot, Diana is working as Major Trevor's secretary when not out saving the world from bad guys.

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The pilot succeeded, i.e., it got good ratings and critics tended to like it. The audience liked the concept, the theme song was snappy, and in particular everyone loved Lynda Carter as Wonder Woman.

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The "Golden Lasso of Truth" was probably something a lot of women would like to have (courtesy CBS).

The network produced a couple of one-hour specials which basically were episodes of "Wonder Woman" during spring 1976. These also did well in the ratings, and ABC placed the show on the fall schedule.

Lynda Carter Miss World USA Wonder Woman legends.filminspector.com


Wonder Woman is given several special "weapons" and talents. These include her signature bullet-deflecting bracelets, her invisible plane, her "golden lasso of truth," and her ability to impersonate voices. She also displays other "talents" at times, such as being able to communicate telepathically with dolphins. Everything apparently stems from her magic belt, without which she has only normal human abilities.

Lynda Carter Wonder Woman legends.filminspector.com
Wonder Woman deflected bullets with her bracelets (Courtesy ABC).

Ratings for the weekly series were good, but not great. ABC hesitated to pick it up for a second season - nobody knows if it would have or not - and, before it had made a decision, CBS Television decided to buy the series. CBS altered the title to "The New Adventures of Wonder Woman," updated Wonder Woman's costume, changed to setting to the modern day (as in the original television movie), and replaced most of the cast. However, CBS kept Lynda Carter and Lyle Waggoner as the leads, though Lyle wound up playing the son of the original character.

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Lynda did some of her own stunts on "Wonder Woman." The most notorious instance was when Wonder Woman dangles from a helicopter as it takes off.

Lynda Carter Wonder Woman legends.filminspector.com
The famous helicopter stunt (courtesy CBS).

The helicopter stunt took place in season two episode "Anschluss 77." The stunt double didn't look enough like Lynda to pull off this particular stunt, so Lynda herself decided to perform it at the last minute. So, she held onto the chopper's skid as it ascended, a risky thing for a star to do. The studio later scolded her for taking such a risk, but it paid off in the final product.

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Lynda ran in many episodes, and as a bonus we get some good scenes of mid-70s Los Angeles (courtesy CBS).

While Lynda was athletic and can be seen running and throwing things in "Wonder Woman," she did have stuntwomen who performed some of the more dangerous stunts for her. Jeannie Epper of the famous Epper stunt family did normal stunts for all four seasons of the show, while Kim Renee - recruited from the trapeze at Circus Circus in Las Vegas - did aerial stunts during seasons two and three. Both stunt ladies treasured their time on the show and, as of this writing, remain in show business along with Lynda.

Lynda Carter Wonder Woman legends.filminspector.com
The television series "Wonder Woman" is available in various packages, including the individual seasons and a "Wonder Woman: The Complete Collection" DVD Box Set.

The stunts on "Wonder Woman" were tough work. Renee once incurred a collapsed lung from a five-story fall. She said later that Lynda was very concerned and kept in touch with her in the hospital. Overall, Renee says, Lynda Carter was an absolute doll to work with.

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Some of Wonder Woman's accessories were a hoot, including the football helmet with imperial crest (courtesy CBS).

CBS kept the revamped "Wonder Woman" on for two more seasons until finally cancelling it due to declining ratings.

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While it only lasted for three seasons, "Wonder Woman" created an enduring impression. In fact, DC Comics later produced an entirely new series of Wonder Woman comic books set in the Lynda Carter "universe" of Wonder Woman. It is a rare instance of a television adaptation influencing the source material - sort of.

Lynda Carter Wonder Woman legends.filminspector.com
"Wonder Woman" kept the violence in check most of the time, but Lynda did have to strong-arm some thugs from time to time (courtesy CBS).

While there is absolutely no question that portraying "Wonder Woman" was the highlight of Lynda Carter's acting career - how could it not be? - she went on to a long acting career after that. This included a main role on television series "Hawkeye" in 1994-95, the continuing role of President Olivia Marsdin in "Supergirl" (2016-2017), and appearances in video games such as "The Elder Scrolls" series.

Lynda Carter Wonder Woman legends.filminspector.com


Lynda has had action figures made of her as Wonder Woman, including a limited-edition set issued by DC Direct. It is an impressive piece, standing 13 inches tall.

Lynda Carter Wonder Woman legends.filminspector.com
Lynda played a secretary as a cover for her Wonder Woman activities.

Lynda learned about the reboot of "Wonder Woman" as a film series in 2016. She admitted that she wasn't too thrilled at the idea of someone else taking over the character, but new star Gal Gadot and director Patty Jenkins of "Wonder Woman" (2017) won her over.

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Wonder Woman in action (Courtesy CBS).

While Lynda Carter did not appear in the first "Wonder Woman" film, she apparently will appear in the sequel in 2018. However, that has not been confirmed yet.

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Lynda Carter knew how to give penetrating glances (courtesy ABC).

Lynda maintains an active Twitter account which keeps fans up to date on her interests.

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Lynda behind the scenes in her first-season costume (courtesy ABC).

Lynda also maintains her own web site This is a good place to catch up on her personal appearances.

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Lynda had no trouble facing down the bad guys (courtesy CBS).

Lynda Carter was married to talent agent Ron Samuels from 1977 to 1982. Samuels contributed to her iconic image as Wonder Woman, including a wall poster that was extremely popular.

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The best episodes were those in which Wonder Woman showed off a new outfit (courtesy CBS).

Lynda later married D.C. attorney Robert A. Altman. She left Hollywood in 1985 and moved to Potomac, Maryland. Robert and Lynda have have two children, James and Jessica.

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Wonder Woman getting a bit bored with a bad guy (courtesy CBS).

Lynda has a video on her website in which she discusses her decision to leave Hollywood, saying:
I really wanted substance in my life. I had a large body of work already, and I didn't really have a lot of substance in my life.... Now I really... things are good.

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Among other things, Lynda gifted the "Wonder Woman" crew with "Wonder Crew" satin jackets.

Altman was involved in the collapse of the Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI) and its secret acquisition of First American Bankshares Inc. After a lengthy jury trial, during which Lynda stood by him, Altman was acquitted in 1993.

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Lynda showing some emotion as Wonder Woman (courtesy CBS).

Lynda, in 2008, admitted to a drinking problem. She said that she had entered rehab for alcoholism, and that it helped her to quit the alcohol habit.

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Lynda with the newest Wonder Woman, Gal Gadot.

As an iconic figure, Lynda Carter has been showered with honors. Among those is a Star in the "Television" category on the Hollywood Walk of Fame (2018).

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Lynda works with charities such as the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure, which addresses breast cancer.

Lynda Carter Wonder Woman legends.filminspector.com


Lynda Carter continues to give performances, such as one at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C. on 17 March 2018. She shows no signs of slowing down because... she's Wonder Woman!



Lynda Carter Wonder Woman legends.filminspector.com


2017

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Denise Richards - Bond Girl Legend

Denise Richards is Legendary as Christmas Jones in "The World is Not Enough"

Denise Richards legends.filminspector.com
Denise Richards.

Denise Richards was simply awesome as Dr. Christmas Jones in Eon Productions' James Bond flick "The World is Not Enough" (1999). Richards didn't look or sound as if she had cracked a textbook in her life, and that is precisely why she is one of the best Bond girls of all time. You must understand what the James Bond series is all about to grasp that essential point.


Pierce Brosnan Denise Richards The World is Not Enough jamesbondreview.filminspector.com
"Denise, I hear Hugh Hefner has an opening for the Christmas Gala issue of Playboy magazine...."

Let's put it another way: Denise Richards was perfect for the role of Christmas Jones in "The World Is not Enough" because she is a woman of breathtaking beauty and easy charm.


Denise Richards legends.filminspector.com
The poster for "Undercover Brother" (2002) - folks, this is how you sell a movie.

Really, that is the requirement for the role of Bond Girl, and Denise met it to a T. She made an impression. People may joke about her playing a scientist... but they remember her.


Denise Richards The World is Not Enough jamesbondreview.filminspector.com 1999


Seriously, if you want to see some feminist man-hater, go watch the news channels. Without the Denise Richards, where could a guy have a little fun? We bless the Denise Richards of the world, each and every one.

Pierce Brosnan Denise Richards The World is Not Enough jamesbondreview.filminspector.com 1999
Pierce: "Fire in the hole!" Denise: "Why, you fresh thing!"

Pierce Brosnan as James Bond 007 had a field day winding up on the slow-pitch softball set-ups and smacking them over the fence. Denise Richards, hands down, was the best thing about "The World is Not Enough," in fact, she probably was the only good thing about this mediocre spy flick besides the Garbage theme song.


Denise Richards The World is Not Enough jamesbondreview.filminspector.com 1999


But add one pretty girl, shaken, not stirred, and you have some classic Bond moments that I am willing to bet even old would have liked. Below are some of the best.

Pierce Brosnan Denise Richards The World is Not Enough jamesbondreview.filminspector.com 1999
Denise Richards wet and scared and delicious.

Dr. Christmas Jones: The world's greatest terrorist running around with six kilos of weapons-grade plutonium can't be good. I gotta get it back, or someone's gonna have my ass. 
James Bond: First things first. 

Pierce Brosnan Denise Richards The World is Not Enough jamesbondreview.filminspector.com 1999
You mean, I can have my own reality tv show? For reals?

Dr. Christmas Jones: Doctor Jones. Christmas Jones, and don't tell me any jokes, I've heard them all.
 
James Bond: I don't know any doctor jokes. 

Pierce Brosnan Denise Richards The World is Not Enough jamesbondreview.filminspector.com 1999
My hair only swirls like that when I think really hard.

James Bond: I've always wanted to have Christmas in Turkey.
 
Dr. Christmas Jones: Was that a Christmas joke? 
James Bond: From me? No. Never. 
Dr. Christmas Jones: Is it about time to unwrap your present?[They Kiss]
Pierce Brosnan Denise Richards The World is Not Enough jamesbondreview.filminspector.com 1999
"Why, thanks, I got the bunny tatoo to celebrate my dissertation!"

James Bond: [in bed with Jones] I was wrong about you. 
Dr. Christmas Jones: Yeah, how so? 
James Bond: I thought Christmas only comes once a year.
Pierce Brosnan Denise Richards The World is Not Enough jamesbondreview.filminspector.com
"Charlie Sheen is crazy ... but I like crazy."

Dr. Christmas Jones: By the way, before we go any further, I just want to know. What's the story with you and Elektra? 
James Bond: We're stictly plutonic, now. 
Denise Richards The World is Not Enough jamesbondreview.filminspector.com 1999


[Bad guy sees Denise in tight top sitting on his bed]
 
Bad guy: Who are you? And how did you get in? I'll call security - and congratulate them. [smiles]

Denise Richards The World is Not Enough jamesbondreview.filminspector.com 1999


Seriously, if you can't hear the snare drum and cymbal after each of those one-liners, you aren't paying attention. Denise, thank the gods, followed in the bra-straps of Lana Wood, Shirley Eaton and al the previous Bond girls who showed off their beauty with the good grace that the good Lord gave them and not a stitch of self-consciousness.
Denise Richards The World is Not Enough jamesbondreview.filminspector.com 1999
"Those Victoria's Secret girls think they're special, well, I haven't even begun to show what I've got!"

Denise is famous for dating Charlie Sheen, then marrying him, then then filing to divorce him, then reconciling with him, then getting a restraining order against him, then including him on her reality television show, then suing him to include her daughters on the show, then reconciling with each other and appearing on each other's television shows - yes, Denise, it sure is complicated.

Pierce Brosnan Denise Richards The World is Not Enough jamesbondreview.filminspector.com 1999
Hi, I speak Russian, English and California surfer girl.

For "The World is Not Enough," Denise was honored with the "Worst Supporting Actress" award at the 1999 Razzies. In her defense, she also was nominated for the "Blockbuster Entertainment Award for Favorite Actress - Action" for the role.

Denise Richards The World is Not Enough jamesbondreview.filminspector.com 1999


I'm thinking one of those award panels had a lot of women on it, and the other had a lot of men - and I'm not sure which is which. But Denise did a fine job and was a good sport about playing a Bond girl.

Pierce Brosnan Denise Richards The World is Not Enough jamesbondreview.filminspector.com
That's a mighty big gun, and a great expression on Pierce looking at Denise - I love foreign print ads.

Denise was asked once by Larry King about her religious views. "I do have faith," she replied. To which we heartily agree, it is clear that she has tremendous faith her in her bodacious figure and classic profile.

Pierce Brosnan Denise Richards The World is Not Enough jamesbondreview.filminspector.com
"Denise, I think you're going to get something really special out of this."

The world is not enough for this classic beauty, indeed. One only hopes that Denise Richards continues to get roles that fit her acting talent. There will always be a place for Denise Richards in Hollywood.

Pierce Brosnan Denise Richards The World is Not Enough jamesbondreview.filminspector.com
"You really think I'm a good actress?"

Yes, I really mean that, Denise. The lovely Ms. Richards also starred in several other cult films. While never quite making it to the heights of Hollywood of an Angelina Jolie or Julia Roberts, Denise has made good use of her time there.

Denise Richards The World is Not Enough jamesbondreview.filminspector.com 1999
Denise showing that she has a very long tongue.

Denise did a wildly sexy turn in "Wild Things," the 1998 erotic thriller also starring Kevin Bacon, Matt Dillon, Robert Wagner and Bill Murray. Her pool scene with Neve Campbell is an utter erotic classic.

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Denise Richards in "Starship Troopers."

Richards also was a key player in "Starship Troopers," in which she proved that she could fill out a brown blouse to perfection.

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Denise flashing her classic smile in "Starship Troopers."

Denise continues to act regularly. She recently appeared in the tv series "Twisted" and "90210." She also regularly appears in independent films such as "Cougars Inc." (2011) and "Fatal Acquittal" (2014). Probably her highest profile work since "The World is Not Enough" has been as a continuing performer on a couple of Charlie Sheen tv series, "Two and a Half Men" and "Spin City." Despite their personal travails, Denise and Charlie continue to work together amicably, Denise being a repeat performer in Charlie's current tv series "Anger Management."

Denise Richards The World is Not Enough jamesbondreview.filminspector.com 1999


We can't let go of Denise without a word or two about her scandalous affairs. Denise became notorious having an affair with musician Richie Sambora. Now, there's nothing scandalous about that part, but it's the part where Sambora was still married to Heather Locklear at the time which raised some eyebrows.

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Richie Sambora with Heather Locklear, left, and Denise Richards, right.

Denise later married Charlie Sheen, who obviously grew to like her as they worked together on their television series. The two had a a tempestuous relationship which involved drugs, divorce, a crazy subsequent wife of Sheen's, and Richards ultimately taking custody of Sheen's children for a while - which didn't work out well at all. Still a beauty to this day, Denise Richards remains in the public eye as one of the most prominent Bond girls even over a decade after her appearance as Christmas Jones.

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Now that's how you want to look when you're pregnant!

Denise Richards continues to act in films such as "1st Born" (2018), "The Toybox" (2017) and "A Violent Man" (2017). In fact, she appeared in nine productions in 2017 alone. We can always expect the unexpected from Denise Richards: as she has said:
I'm spontaneous. I love going from one thing to something else and not knowing what I'm going to do next.

Denise Richards The World is Not Enough jamesbondreview.filminspector.com 1999





2017