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Sunday, May 2, 2010

Wonder Wear

Wonder Woman appeared twice on my television as a live action heroine.

The first time was in a 1974 TV pilot movie starring Cathy Lee Crosby. The Crosby version relied on the non-powered version of Wonder Woman that appeared in the DC comics title. It melded the two versions and though it has been criticized, I still think it's watchable.

This was followed by another pilot movie a year later starring Lynda Carter.

The Lynda Carter version based her adventures in the 1940's like her character's origin. It became popular and after a couple of more TV movies, it was sold as a series to ABC.
The following year it went to CBS where the storylines were brought into the late 70's.

I'll have to review both versions (Crosby and Carter) in future What's On Wednesday posts. In the meantime, let's talk fashion. Specifically the superhero costumes of Wonder Woman as interpreted onscreen. Bill Thomas was a nine-time Oscar nominated costume designer and won the Oscar for Spartacus (specifically for the costumes worn by Jean Simmons). He did the gowns in the Douglas Sirk movies as well as gowns for Kim Novak, Jane Fonda and Lana Turner. In the 1974 Wonder Woman, Cathy Lee Crosby wore a drab beige outfit as Diana Prince, but as Wonder Woman, she wore a few different outfits that were red, white and blue with different bracelets. Later she appeared in her action suit.

The action suit looked like a tennis outfit. Appropriately, Cathy Lee Crosby was a tennis player. Bill Thomas designed the Adidas-type sportswear look that Cathy Lee Crosby wore in her version. I think his style changed with the times, because you see, he also designed the costumes for Logan's Run.

When they revamped the concept and took Wonder Woman back to what made her the best selling female superhero, they enlisted Donfeld to create a costume that was true to her comic book roots. Boy, did he succeed.

Lynda Carter looked like she had jumped off the page of the comic book.

Donfeld was nominated four times for an Oscar including the costumes worn in They Shoot Horses, Don't They? Well, Donfeld may not have been nominated as many times as Bill Thomas, but his version of the Wonder Woman costume is classic.

Roy Rogers didn't like it. He thought it was inappropriate for children to see. When he guest starred in an episode, Lynda wore the costume only at the beginning and end of the episode. The rest of the time, she appeared in a Western type outfit that covered up most of her skin.

When Debra Winger appeared as Wonder Girl, her costume was also somewhat true to the roots of the comics.

ABC didn't pick up the show after the short first season. Lucky for us, CBS stepped in and brought the show back with the updated costume. It got lower at the top and higher at the bottom. It may be skimpier, but Lynda Carter still appeared wholesome as Wonder Woman.

The CBS version also had the Wonder Wet Suit. When Wonder Woman needed to swim in the ocean, she spun around again and had a blue wet suit that had gloves with the bracelets attached.

As the series progressed, other outfits appeared.

The next to appear was the motorcycle outfit. Wonder Biker was just like the Wonder Wet Suit. Instead of the bathing cap, it had a helmet and goggles (well the bathing cap was under the helmet).

One of the lamest outfits to appear on Wonder Woman, was Wonder Skater. It was basically, the normal Wonder Woman outfit with elbow pads and knee pads, with red gloves with the bracelets attached. It also had a helmet with a golden eagle emblem that was duplicated on the pads.

Regardless of what she wore, Lynda Carter still embodied all the qualities of Wonder Woman and any criticism of the show can be deflected with her bracelets.

Warner Bros./DC Comics

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