Before Lynda Carter, there was another Wonder Woman

Someone had to pave the way for the princess of the Amazons.

Lynda Carter has solidified her place as the iconic Wonder Woman, and there is absolutely nothing that could change that. Her portrayal of the Amazonian princess gave new rise to bringing comics to screens across America. 

We adore Carter's portrayal of this purveyor of justice, but Wonder Woman has one less-sung heroine to thank for her current popularity. 

That person is actress Cathy Lee Crosby who, in 1974, played Prince in the first made-for-television movie Wonder Woman. Crosby had been in the acting pool for a few years — up until 1967, she had been a Wimbledon-worthy professional tennis player.

Between 1967 and 1970, she made the transition from athlete to actress, taking on roles in projects like It Takes a Thief and The Laughing Policemen. Wonder Woman would be her first experience as a title character. 

While fans were excited to see Wonder Woman in live-action on the small screen, the movie followed its own set of rules for establishing her character. (Fun fact: Wonder Woman actually made her television debut on The Brady Kids cartoon, of all places.) The plot of the film heavily deviated from its comic book origins, trying to build a new persona for Diana. This Wonder Woman had no clear super-human powers and no secret identity. Instead of the uniform donned in the comic books, she wore a skirted jumpsuit. They even let Crosby keep her hair blonde. 

In the film, Prince is an assistant to government agent Steve Trevor as they pursue a villain who has stolen a set of codebooks containing classified information. Along the way, she will have to battle nefarious henchman and track down those books to save the world. 

Everett CollectionCathy Lee Crosby as Wonder Woman, 1974.

The goal of the movie was to drum up excitement over the prospect of a future series. The ratings, however, didn't support this decision. The numbers didn't hit their projected goals, with many calling them "respectable, but not exactly wondrous." Because of this, the idea for a follow-up series was thrown out, for the time being, only to be resurrected again in 1975.

By this time, Carter had accepted the title role of Diana Prince and some significant changes had been made to the show. The entire look of Wonder Woman, from her hair to her boots, mirrored that of the comic book artwork, as did the major plot points that start the action. 

While the first movie's changes may have been scrapped, the overall creation of the movie did have a major impact on comic book adaptations breaking into mainstream media. The overall positive, if not enthusiastic, reception of the film let ABC and, eventually, CBS know that viewers wanted to continue to see their favorite superheroes on screen, continuing to launch the major franchises we know and love today. 

Did you see the movie when it first aired on television? What were your first thoughts about those changes?

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TCKirkham 58 months ago
We recently did this film on our podcast Subject:CINEMA during our annual "Masochistic March" bad movies fest. In all honesty, the film would have been fine if they hadn't had the Wonder Woman connection - as a spy movie, more along the lines of "Man from UNCLE", it might have worked better. But all that business of shooting Amazon scenes through a weird gauzey (?) lens filter, the "clink" of the bracelets every time Diana met one of her people, and Ricardo Montalban playing a character called "Abner" (ABNER? REALLY?)...yeesh. And Anitra Ford...who was at the time known only for "The Price Is Right" ("Invasion Of The Bee Girls" came out a few months later) wasn't the most charismatic Amazon baddie, either. But still it's great fun for a few laughs, and It's still available on DVD through Warner Archive, and will no doubt pop up on HBOMax when it launches...:-)
TinaMarieHaddadRhodes 58 months ago
I was only nine but remember watching the Cathy Lee Crosby version of Wonder Woman and I remember that I liked it a lot. But kids opinions didn’t matter much when it came to ratings...
JDnHuntsvilleAL 58 months ago
I remember Cathy Lee Crosby as Wonder Woman. If they had put HER into the same outfit as Lynda Carter, I'm _sure_ she would have made many more movies or shows.
MaryMitch 58 months ago
I saw the TV movie on its original airing. I remember being confused; this "Wonder Woman" didn't seem to have any special powers. She was just a crime fighter like "The Girl From UNCLE". I probably would have watched a series, though, because there weren't many female heros on TV at the time.
OldArcadeGuy 58 months ago
CLC was better in “That’s Incredible”
stephaniestavropoulos 58 months ago
If we are to believe what METV is telling us, take them at their word, {however you want to phrase it,;} Cathy Lee Crosby played Prince when he was 16. {He was born in 1958.} It says "CLC played Prince in the 1974 made-for-television movie Wonder Woman." Sounds like she played a dual role. I Wonder[ed] how she pulled that off? Oh I know, of course! Through the magic of television!
Not Funny, Stephanie! Yes, they should have said Diana, but that joke is weak! Yes, I saw the CLC version as well as the ISIS knockoff! Can you believe there was a heroine who was also part of Al Quida? Now that's funny!
I flagged your comment.
Stephanie, You didn't understand the joke! In the '70's ISIS was a Egyptian goddess! It only became linked to terrorism years later! I appologize if you misunderstood me!
stephaniestavropoulos 58 months ago
This comment has been removed.
Moody cperrynaples 58 months ago
I caught the meaning of your joke right away but like most of your jokes I didn't think it was very funny. This one certainly didn't deserve to be flagged for any reason.
jvf stephaniestavropoulos 58 months ago
The heroine was named Isis and used to be a TV show in the 70's.
Barry22 58 months ago
I remember that TV movie, it was terrible.
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