On November 7, 1975, “Wonder Woman” debuted on ABC. Based on the DC Comics superhero, the show starred Lynda Carter as Wonder Woman/Diana Prince. Armed with her magic belt that gives her superhuman strength, bullet-stopping bracelets, a tiara that’s also a hidden weapon, and her lie-detecting magic lasso, the superhero has been a feminist icon to many. Gloria Steinem even placed Wonder Woman on the cover of the second issue of her feminist Ms. magazine in 1971. The 1975 TV show further solidified the character’s position as a strong female role model.
American psychologist and writer William Moulton Marston, already famous for inventing the polygraph, created the Wonder Woman character. He modeled her after his wife, while also drawing inspiration from early feminists, namely Margaret Sanger. The character made her first appearance in All Star Comics #8 in October 1941.
Thirty-four years after her comic book debut, “Wonder Woman” premiered on ABC and was a ratings success. The series chronicled the tale of the Amazonian princess hailing from the secret Paradise Island. She makes contact with the mortal world and decides to help mankind after rescuing a lost World War II American pilot. Carter, the former Miss World USA 1972, came up with one of the most synonymous parts of the TV show: the transformation sequence when Diana Prince spins to become Wonder Woman.
The first season was set in the 1940s like the original comic book. For seasons two and three, the show strayed from the original World War II-era narrative when CBS picked it up. Executives decided to set the show in the 1970s to cut down production costs. They also shifted the plot from international espionage to a police detective-type format to better compete with show like “Charlie’s Angels.” The show ended in 1979.
The early appeal of the comic book, the success of the TV show and the highly-rated 2017 film adaptation of “Wonder Women” is a testament to the ever growing appeal of empowered female leads. Reflecting on her role, Carter once shared the true secret to the success of “Wonder Woman”: “I’ve discovered that the archetype of Wonder Woman really lives in all of us. She had the goddess within. It’s who we really are. That secret self that yearns to be out and that we hope is appreciated and even if it isn’t we still do what do.”