In 1980 Lynda 'Wonder Woman' Carter paid tribute to Kiss on TV, and we're not sure if our eyes have ever recovered

Lynda Carter with dancers dressed as Kiss
(Image credit: CBS Photo Archive via Getty Images)

Lynda Carter kicked off her career as a musician – as a teenager she'd been in a band with M*A*S*H star Gary 'Radar O'Reilly' Burghoff – but the future Wonder Woman made her name after appearing in a series of beauty pageants, including a triumph at the Miss World USA contest in 1972. Acting classes followed, as did a series of bit parts in shows like Starsky and Hutch, before she landed the role that made her famous all over the world.  

After 59 episodes Wonder Woman was canned as the audience dwindled – the protagonist's sudden ability to telepathically communicate with dolphins may have stretched credulity, as did the introduction of an indestructible chimp – but Carter remained serious box office. 

She got her own show. Or rather, she got her own specials. Lynda Carter's Special was the first, in early 1980, and featured the star performing a version of Stephen Stills' 1970 hit Love the One You're With, plus appearances from Leo Sayer and Kenny Rogers. It must have been a success, because in September another special followed, the aptly titled Encore!

No stop was left un-pulled. And for the cherry on the icing on the top of the televisual cake, Carter performed as she'd never performed before. Arriving onstage in a eye-wateringly expensive Kellison Stallion sports car, she launched into a rock'n'roll fantasy sequence, singing – appropriately enough – Bad Company's Rock 'N' Roll Fantasy. And what followed were three fantasy performances, with Carter appearing first as Tina Turner and finally as Bette Midler, with a spectacular middle section devoted to Kiss

It is magnificent. I Was Made For Living You pumps. Carter, wearing the kind of vast headdress more usually associated with Brazilian carnival, is briefly caught in a spider's web. Dancers dressed as Gene and Paul and Ace and Peter twirl and prance and shake and shimmy. Everyone has the time of their lives. And the Earth moves on its axis, probably.

There would be three more specials – Celebration in 1981, Street Life the following year, and 1984's Body and Soul – but none of then could top the original Rock 'N' Roll Fantasy, and we say that without having seen any of them. Some things just can't be bettered.

Intriguingly, Carter's fabulous Kiss Kostume was reprised by none other than Gene Simmons himself, in the 1986 movie Never Too Young to Die, when The Demon found himself cast as the murderous transgender gang leader Velvet Von Ragnar, and wore a near-identical cat suit/headdress combo.

"I didn't design it," said Gene. "But in retrospect, clearly it was inspired by Lynda's Kiss thing."  

Fraser Lewry

Online Editor at Louder/Classic Rock magazine since 2014. 38 years in music industry, online for 25. Also bylines for: Metal Hammer, Prog Magazine, The Word Magazine, The Guardian, The New Statesman, Saga, Music365. Former Head of Music at Xfm Radio, A&R at Fiction Records, early blogger, ex-roadie, published author. Once appeared in a Cure video dressed as a cowboy, and thinks any situation can be improved by the introduction of cats. Favourite Serbian trumpeter: Dejan Petrović.