LYNDA CARTER:
Her Debut Film May Have Put Her on the Map, but “Wonder Woman” Made Her a Star
by John Francis

1. Bobbie Jo Poster“Wonder Woman” was one of the biggest box office and critical hits of 2017, catapulting star Gal Gadot into superstar status and blowing the capes off all the male-dominated superhero movies of the past year.

Why it took so long to reboot the franchise from its TV heyday of 1975-79 is anybody’s guess. Meanwhile, while many male DC and Marvel superheroes were getting their own crappy films (C’mon down Green Lantern and Ghost Rider!), Wonder Woman was languishing in rerun hell.

Even though it only lasted three seasons on ABC and CBS, “Wonder Woman” was faithful to the popular DC comic books that fans had been reading since it was created in 1941, and made Lynda Carter a star.

Carter, who was once voted “The Most Beautiful Woman in the World” by the International Academy of Beauty and the British Press Organization, made her film debut in 1976’s “Bobby Jo & The Outlaw,” which she appeared in after being in the pilot for “Wonder Woman.”

2. Lynda as Wonder Woman“Bobbi Jo,” directed by B-movie auteur Mark L. Lester (“Truck Stop Women,” “Roller Boogie” and “Commando”), had two things that made it stand out from other B-movie trash: Carter exposed her breasts for the first and only time in her career (except for being on a Playboy pinup in “Apocalypse Now”) and it starred a former evangelist preacher in the role as “The Outlaw,” Marjoe Gortner, who had been preaching since he was 4 years old.

Carter later disowned her participation in the movie, probably because of her nude scene and the extreme violence and to distance herself from the straight-laced, all-goodness heroine she played in “Wonder Woman,” to this day the one character she is most closely identified with.

Oddly enough, Carter appeared in only eight other films after “Bobbi Jo,” preferring to guest star on episodic TV and TV movies and spend time on her musical career (she’s released four albums so far).

Her best known roles outside of Wonder Woman include stints in “Sky High,” “Dukes of Hazzard” and two satirical “Super Trooper” films as Governor Jessman. Recently, she’s played the role of U.S. President Olivia Marsdin on The CW hit series “Supergirl.”

The storyline for “Bobbi Jo” goes something like this: A young country music wannabe named Bobbie Jo Baker takes off from her job as a carhop to join with a modern day Billy the Kid wannabe for an adventure in theft, homicide and mayhem.

3. Lynda and Marjoe Shooting While not all that well received when it first came out, “Bobbi Jo” has attained a somewhat cult status, primarily because of Carter’s celebrity status since “Wonder Woman” and for Gortner’s performance as the wild, Billy the Kid-style outlaw. Gortner never became the star he thought he should be, and was last seen producing celebrity charity golf tournaments.

But the movie has received some grudging praise in recent years as a decent example of B-movie exploitation fare from the 1970s.

“ ‘Bobbie Jo and The Outlaw’ efficiently mimics the greatest escapist trash produced by AIP or Roger Corman during the wild and woolly 1970s; only it’s not as consistently slick, and suffers from sloppy editing,” says coolasscinema.com. “There’s plentiful action, funny lines, beautiful women, bloody shootouts, ample nudity and subtextual content for a film whose narrative didn’t require any. A good chunk of the film’s success can be attributed to its great cast.”

“A fun ‘on the run’ movie, ‘Bobbie Jo And The Outlaw’ will live on in infamy for Carter’s nude scene but outside of that is fairly middle of the road stuff,” says DVDTalk.com. “Not terrible, not amazing, the film has its moments to be sure, and as a time killer you could do worse but it’s not particularly well written and relies too heavily on coincidence and cliché to work as well as it should have. Recommended for fans, a genuinely fun rental for the masses.”

And this from cinemaretro.com: “It may not be in the same league as ‘Bonnie and Clyde’ (1967), but it’s still an extremely enjoyable, well-directed, written and acted low-budget feature that definitely deserves to be seen. The stunning Lynda Carter gets to show a bit more range then she did as Wonder Woman and is extremely convincing as the hopeful and somewhat naïve Bobbi Jo.”

41st Annual Gracie Awards - Arrivals Carter, meanwhile is continuing her music career at age 66, and she is said to have been invited to appear in the upcoming sequel to “Wonder Woman” in an as-yet undetermined role. She has been effusive in her praise for the new film, its star Gadot and its director Patty Jenkins. And it’s obvious she still has a soft spot for a character she played more than 40 years ago.

“Many actresses or actors, they want to divorce themselves from a role because we are actors, we really aren’t the people that we play,” Carter told USA Today. “But I knew very early on that this character is much more than me certainly, and to try to divorce myself from the experiences that other people have of the character is silly.”

See Bobbie Jo and the Outlaw on MovieZoot.com.