WONDER WOMAN EXCLUSIVE: An Interview with Cathy Lee Crosby

Back in 1974, Wonder Woman made her first live action appearance in the TV movie starring tennis star Cathy Lee Crosby in the title role. That film arrives on DVD December 11th, and in this exclusive interview Crosby reflects on it and her role of Wonder Woman.

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By EdGross - 12/10/2012
By 1974, Cathy Lee Crosby had decided she needed a change from her career as a professional tennis player, and looked towards acting. She had scored a role in the Walter Matthau feature film The Laughing Policeman, but then got what she thought was a dream role: that of Wonder Woman in a TV movie/backdoor pilot of the same name released on DVD December 11th.

Says Wikipedia of that film, "The first serious attempt at adapting Wonder Woman to live-action TV starred Cathy Lee Crosby as a blonde Amazon with superhuman agility (à la Captain America) and gadgets, similar to those used by movie super-spy James Bond and secret agent Emma Peel of TV's The Avengers, both of which were still somewhat popular at that time, when the script of this pilot movie was in its early stages of development. Though this version owed much to a brief period in the Wonder Woman comic book, in which the Amazon heroine had lost her powers, it did not stray completely from its comic inspiration. This Princess Diana could communicate with animals; run, leap, and swim faster than normal humans; and was agile enough to deflect bullets from her Amazon bracelets, which, by some unrevealed means, she could trigger to explode. In lieu of the magical, golden lasso in the comics, she kept a golden cable concealed in her belt, which was used as a grappling rope and to ensnare fleeing enemies. While the Wonder Woman comic being published at the time of the pilot's screening featured the heroine with her traditional powers intact, no explanation for the differences between the film and the comic were ever given."

"It was my first real job," reflects Crosby, "so the significance of the project was that I was acting, but then, to have the opportunity to play a character that you grew up with as a little kid was so meaningful to me. At the time I was a professional tennis player and a lot of that, but as a little girl - actually a girl of any age - you couldn't help but love a woman who looks great, who has an invisible plane and some amazing bracelets. What a great fantasy."

She admits that she was a little surprised that she was cast in the role. "I would have thought they would have gone with a brunette," says the blonde Crosby, "but then I realized that the original movie was actually jointly owned by Warner Bros. and ABC. From what I understand, Warner Bros. wanted to do it more James Bond and ABC wanted to do it more comic book. So I guess it went halfway down the middle, because in a lot of ways this Wonder Woman was more like a female James Bond.

"For me," she continues, "it was an interesting opportunity and an amazing character. I think she was capable and she had all of these great tools. she kind of had fun with the whole thing; she could do whatever she needed to do and was completely what you would think of as a superhero. She tried to right wrongs, and who wouldn't love to be able to do that? And then when you're in trouble, you call upon your bracelets or your lasso to pull you through. I loved that concept, and the fact that her enemies would try to stop her in every way that she could and he was able to meet the challenge. I think that's a great image to represent."

Today, Crosby is at work on a number of projects, including the pilot for a reality show from the producers of Extreme Makeover titled Oh Yes You Can; and a feature film she's cowritten and will star in called Kiss of the Butterfly. "It's about a selective mute woman and it's a true story," she explains. "It's extraordinary how she comes to talk again and it's a beautiful story."

For the moment, though, it's the return of her Wonder Woman (released through the Warner Archive Collection) that is the matter at hand, for which she admits to feeling a bit of pride due to the fact that she has become part of the character's legacy. "The more than I have worked on other jobs, other films or whatever it may be," she closes, "the more you begin to see these fans come out of nowhere and they feel that you are a part of this history. It's a wonderful feeling, and not something I expected."
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15 Comments
EagleEye21 - 12/10/2012, 8:45 PM
Wow I'm startin' to think the failed 2011 Wonder Woman Pilot was better
Jollem - 12/10/2012, 9:16 PM
i remember this. never saw it, but i never saw the lynda carter stuff either

DioFoRio - 12/10/2012, 9:21 PM
That's Incredible....
PeterDarker121 - 12/10/2012, 10:17 PM
@Dionysios lol

Actually, I always thought this movie had a certain charm to it. If it has any problems, it's just that the action is anti-climatic (snakes and milk?), but what do you expect for a one-shot 1974 TV-Movie? To me, it's worth the price of admission for the funky-ass score throughout, the weird androgynous twin henchmen with the 'No Country For Old Men' haircuts, and Ricardo Montalban. Like bacon, ANYTHING'S better with Ricardo Montalban in it, even if in this movie, he's no Khan....more like a smarmy Mr. Rourke. I know, that's redundant.

If we're comparing pilots, I forgot everything about the David Kelly/Adrienne Palicki version. Cathy Lee Crosby's version was the least faithful to the character, but 30 years after seeing it, it's still seared in my head. I'll be proud to add this to my library!
Ceejay - 12/10/2012, 11:34 PM
This TV movie was shit, even when I was a kid it sucked. She was blonde and had exploding wrist bands for crissake!
TheGlove - 12/11/2012, 3:38 AM
Terrible movie.
carrowsboy - 12/11/2012, 4:40 AM
Gotta agree 100% with Ceejay and TheGlove. I saw it years ago and it was beyond awful. She doesn't even wear that costume til like the last 10 minutes or so of the film.
lntrn8 - 12/11/2012, 6:22 AM
@Dionysios . . . not a lot of youngsters will get that!
Minato - 12/11/2012, 6:57 AM
Is it really that hard to make a good Wonder Woman movie?
pepe - 12/11/2012, 7:05 AM
Dafuq... :O
Newtsy - 12/11/2012, 8:32 AM
@Dionysios HA! Nice one, Dionysios!
Bodwulf - 12/11/2012, 2:07 PM
props to Dionysios.
niknik - 12/11/2012, 10:38 PM
I remember seeing that as a kid when it first aired. I also remember thinking it was lame and a blonde WW didn't make sense. A year or so later they tried again with Lynda Carter and she owned it. I also remember seeing that one and thinking "Look at those Boobs!".
manofmidgard - 12/12/2012, 9:30 AM
wow, that costume is terrible. it looks like a kid's halloween costume. its that kid. you know the one. the one that didn't have any of the right things to make the costume, but reeeally wanted to be wonder woman, so just grabbed whatever was in the closet.
"and what are you dressed up as today, cathy lee crosby?"
"i'm playing wonder woman! see the stars and the red, white, blue, and gold? look, i even have bracelets!"
"oh, that's... um... nice. well, you go have fun playing wonder woman, dear."
AUSSYACE - 12/15/2012, 6:28 PM
I think the costume looks pretty good for that sort of era even though it does not resemble her skimpy costume...

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