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

There are few TV costumes more iconic than Lynda Carter’s red, white and blue Wonder Woman ensemble. She wore it from 1975 to 1979 as millions of adoring kids and adults watched her on-screen heroics, and it remains famous to this day. But there are some remarkable aspects to the costume – and the woman inside it – that you almost certainly don’t know about.

15. The costume had to be changed after season one

The original Wonder Woman comic book was created in the midst of World War Two, and so the show initially decided to place its heroine in that time period. Diana Prince had a slightly different costume at this point, one with a golden eagle as the emblem. But then the setting of the show shifted and everything changed.

The ABC network no longer wanted to spend money on the expensive World War Two sets. CBS picked up the series instead and switched the setting to the present day. Everything was different, including the costume. It was generally more flattering and now had gold stripes instead of the eagle. Prince’s civilian wardrobe also became much more chic.

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14. The bracelets have a fascinating history

The person who devised Wonder Woman was actually a man, William Moulton Marston. He was a psychologist who maintained a polygamous relationship with his wife and his ex-student Olive Byrne. The latter often wore big bracelets, and Marston decided to incorporate this into his Wonder Woman design. And he incorporated something else, too.

Marston had an interest in tying people up and he had an unconventional home arrangement, and a lot of this found its way into Wonder Woman. 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.”

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And if Wonder Woman ever took off the bracelets, she could potentially go mad. This was all changed for the show, unsurprisingly, where the bracelets are instead made out of “feminum,” a metal found on the Paradise Island home of the Amazons. So the “submission” aspect remains a little-known part of comic-book history.

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13. There was difficulty creating a swimming costume

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The outfits for the Wonder Woman show were created by Donfeld, aka Donald Lee Feld. He actually picked up the Outstanding Costume Design Emmy Award in 1978 thanks to his work on the Wonder Woman episode “Anschluss ’77.” But one thing he couldn’t do was make a Wonder Woman bikini that would stay on Carter.

There were lots of wardrobe malfunctions with the Wonder Woman bikini, and that absolutely wouldn’t fly on television. So Donfeld eventually made Wonder Woman’s underwater outfit a tight-fitting blue wetsuit. Which to be fair makes a lot more sense than a bikini if your objective is to fight crime.

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12. A stuntwoman also wore the suit

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Lynda Carter had a body double on set: stuntwoman Jeannie Epper. In 2005 Epper recalled her experiences during an interview on National Public Radio. After losing a job on The Bionic Woman for having the wrong size breasts (yes, really), she was asked to audition for Carter’s stunt double. She had to show up in swimwear, though.

In the radio interview, Epper 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.”

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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 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.”

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11. Carter had to maintain her weight

Lynda Carter maintained a diet and exercise program to ensure she’d fit into the suit. “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 20s and I had the body for it – which I totally took for granted,” Carter told the Daily Express in 2010.

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But Carter wouldn’t have wanted to lose weight, either. She dislikes the way that so many female stars are made to shed more than could be healthy. “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 L.A. and they would be in a hospital.”

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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.”

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10. There was a cowgirl variant of the costume

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One of Lynda Carter’s favorite Wonder Woman episodes was the one with Roy Rogers. “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 newspaper in 2010. And, intriguingly, in that episode she wore a much more modest “cowgirl” Wonder Woman outfit.

It was a very fine red-and-white (but curiously no blue) outfit, but why was the change made? Perhaps it was because the Wonder Woman costume doesn’t lend itself well to riding a horse. And rumor has it that Rogers, with his conservative views, insisted that his co-star be showing less skin.

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9. The costume is popular with drag queens

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Carter is an ally of the LGBT community, and in 2012 she sat down for a chat with Out magazine. She was asked, “Do you remember the first time you saw a drag queen dressed as Wonder Woman?” And Carter answered, “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.”

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8. Carter did stunts in the costume

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Carter insisted on authenticity during the production of Wonder Woman. There was once a scene where Prince was supposed to hang from a helicopter, and stuntwoman Jeannie Epper was all ready to step in. But on camera it was obvious she was a double, so Carter decided to just do it herself. The producers were reportedly livid.

Even though Carter could’ve easily handed over the costume and let someone else do the dangerous work, she frequently didn’t. In 1976 she told Johnny Carson that for a particular stunt, she was supposed to jump over a car on wires but missed and crashed right into it.

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“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.

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7. The spin effect was tricky

One thing a superhero needs to do is be easily able to change from their civilian clothes into their costume. Superman famously used a phone box, of course. With Wonder Woman the producers came up with a different solution. Diana Prince would just spin around, there would be a flash of light and suddenly she’d have changed.

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For the first few episodes of the show the filmmakers used a slo-mo effect to show Prince’s clothes changing. But it was too complex and, perhaps more importantly, too expensive, and they started using a flash effect instead. Of course, Carter was really just changing into the costume normally off-camera.

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And the whole spinning trick was actually Carter’s idea. In 2005 she told Entertainment Weekly that the producers were working on different plans for the costume-change scenes, when 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,” she explained.

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6. The colors were important

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A new Wonder Woman came along many years after the television show. This was a big-screen version starring Gal Gadot. And inevitably the question of Gadot’s costume vs. Carter’s original outfit came up. Carter was asked about it during a 2014 interview with the website Nerdist, and she thought the new outfit was missing something.

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

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In the end, Carter ended up loving the new Wonder Woman film. In 2020 she told the DC Fandome, “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, Patty.”

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5. Carter hated being a pin-up girl

There was no denying that many viewers were attracted to Carter, but she hated that her good looks were often the thing that male audiences focused on. In 1980 she told Us magazine, “I never meant to be a sexual object for anyone but my husband.”

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“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.” More disturbingly, Carter once found a peep-hole in her dressing room, and the man responsible was fired.

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In 2018 Carter looked back on her time on Wonder Woman and the problems she’d faced with sexual harassment. She told the Daily Beast website, “I fended off my share. And I’ve been afraid. 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 s*** from people.”

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4. Diana had to wear a helmet

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Wonder Woman’s closet also contained a “stunt suit” that was used if Prince was on a motorcycle. It featured a helmet and googles, even though Prince was of course pretty much indestructible. Why did she wear it then? Because children were watching and their hero needed to lead by example.

Children’s safety groups have long campaigned for TV and movie characters to wear helmets to send the message to kids that they should, too. And this certainly is an important health and safety issue. So Prince even wore a helmet while skateboarding as well, plus a pair of arm pads.

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3. Carter kept some of the costumes

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If you played one of the most iconic heroines in TV history you’d want to keep the outfits, wouldn’t you? Well, that’s exactly what Lynda Carter did. In 2016 she told Fox News Magazine, “I happen to have one of the costumes from the [first season’s] ’40s [era] and one of them from the updated version. And they’re falling apart in a closet somewhere.”

In 2017, when the new Patty Jenkins-directed Wonder Woman was coming out, Carter offered a suggestion to Gal Gadot as well. She told The Baltimore Sun newspaper that Gadot ought to keep one of her costumes. When the interviewer asked if her own 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.”

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Not only that, but Carter kept one of her 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***!”

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2. The bracelets had pyrotechnics inside

Every time Wonder Woman needed to block a bullet, special effects had to be employed. And this was before the days of CGI, so they were practical effects. Inside the stars on Prince’s bracelets were tiny pyrotechnics, with connecting wires attached. When sparks needed to fly, she pressed a button.

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This technique wasn’t without its flaws, though. For a start, keeping a remote control out of sight is difficult. So the pyrotechnic device used can actually be seen sometimes if you watch the show really closely. And while it certainly looked amazing, it also goes without saying that it was pretty risky.

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1. Carter thinks the costume isn’t sexual

Carter has long fought against the sexualization of Wonder Woman. In 2016 the United Nations made the character an Honorary Ambassador, but some objected by saying she was too sexual to be a role model. Carter was furious. The following year she told Entertainment Weekly magazine, “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.”

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After telling critics to “get over it,” Carter added, “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.”

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Carter has also stood up for other Wonder Women and their costumes. In 2017, speaking to The Guardian newspaper, famous film director James Cameron slammed Gal Gadot’s version of the character for wearing a “bustier” and “form-fitting” outfit. Carter then took to social media to send a message to him.

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The actress 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 was spot on. Gal Gadot was great. I know, Mr Cameron – because I have embodied this character for more than 40 years.”

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