As the original Wonder Woman, Lynda Carter turned heads for her beauty while kicking butt – and earned herself a place in pop culture history doing it. But in the decades since Carter played the superhero on the small screen, she’s become a parent to two kids. And as it happens, her daughter, Jessica, appears to have inherited her famous mom’s striking good looks.
Way before Jessica was born, however, Carter first found fame as a pageant queen. She was just 21 years old, in fact, when she tried out for a beauty contest in Arizona – and earned the win. That victory made the future star the representative for Arizona at Miss World America 1972, and later that year she went on to the semifinals of the international Miss World competition.
This step into the spotlight also led Carter to explore the world of acting. In 1974 she made her screen debut as an adult in an episode of Nakia and went on to other small roles from there. Then, however, came the part that would define her career. And while executives thought that a female superhero wouldn’t draw audiences, they were ultimately very wrong indeed.
Carter became internationally famous, too – both for being Wonder Woman and for being stunningly attractive. When the action series was at its height in 1978, she was even named “the most beautiful woman in the world” – an impressive accolade indeed – by the International Academy of Beauty and the British Press Organisation.
But after her rise to fame, Carter didn’t rest on her laurels; instead, she pursued a second career as a singer. And in 1978 she told People, “People see me in a bathing suit every Friday night on TV, [but] I’m determined to make it on my talent – not my bosom. Singing is something I’ve been doing all my life, and I want people to know it.”
Furthermore, Carter seemed to have mixed feelings about being lauded for her looks. She explained to People, “I wasn’t the beautiful blond cupcake when I was growing up. I’ve been skinny, and I’ve been heavy. I wear glasses. I’m a real person. I’ve learned how to look great without wearing any makeup except a little bit of blusher and some mascara.”
And in 1980 Carter went even further, telling Us Weekly, “I never meant to be a sexual object for anyone but my husband. I never thought a picture of my body would be tacked up in men’s bathrooms. I hate men looking at me and thinking what they think. And I know what they think. They write and tell me.”
Back then, Carter’s husband had been movie producer Ron Samuels. They had wed in 1977, when Carter was 25, but would ultimately part ways in 1982. And many years later, in December 2019, the actress said to Closer magazine of the marriage, “[Samuels] was a lot older [than me], and I was just stupid.”
Not long after her divorce from Samuels, however, Carter met Robert Altman – a lawyer who ran a thriving firm in Washington, D.C. And the pair wasted little time in taking their relationship to the next step, tying the knot in 1984. It was at this point, moreover, that Carter was starting to tire of the celebrity lifestyle.
Nevertheless, the actress still earned column inches – including, in 1985, a Washington Post feature on her new marriage. Of Carter, the newspaper said, “She is tall, 5 feet, 9 inches, with generous bust and hips and small waist. Her features are prom queen pert, punctuated by masses of dark hair and huge, darkly outlined turquoise eyes. It’s easy to see how she won the part of Wonder Woman.”
And speaking to the newspaper, Altman explained that he had fallen for Carter after being asked to attend a dinner with the star. He revealed, “I knew she was a good-looking actress who modeled for Maybelline, but I couldn’t quite place her… I thought the last thing I need is to go to dinner and get mixed up with some Hollywood actress.”
The lawyer continued, “I went. I sat next to [Carter], and we hit it off immediately. There was a strong and immediate attraction – even to the point that we were so very interested in one another that it seemed rude to the rest of the table. After that, I was definitely interested in seeing her. She was beautiful and fascinating – not at all what I had anticipated.”
And apparently Carter had shattered all of Altman’s preconceptions of a celebrity. He went on, “I expected someone who was narcissistic, self-important and full of herself. But [Carter] is unpretentious, warm, funny and bright. I wanted to see her again.” Nevertheless, he added, “I had no notion at the time that it was going to end up in marriage. I probably would have said, ‘It will be fun. That’s it.’”
During the Washington Post interview, Carter also talked about her singing career and her sex symbol status, saying, “I’ve never been va-va-voom. I’ve never felt that way on stage that I’m promoting sexuality. The dresses are cut that way, but my personality is not that way.”
And Carter went on, “I don’t want to alienate half the audience, which is female. You don’t have to play on it if it’s there visually… I’m not trying to turn anyone on. I’m just singing and dancing.” The interviewer asked Altman, however, if he felt that other women were ever jealous of his wife’s good looks.
Altman answered, “Simply stated, yes. You can tell from the sideways glances, looking her up and down, [and] the little remarks that are made. It’s obvious there is a sense of envy.” When it came to other men, meanwhile, the attorney claimed, “It’s all pretty good-natured. Nothing goes beyond the bounds of propriety… Crowds take to her.”
But it appeared that Carter had other plans beyond a life on stage and screen. Speaking to The Washington Post, she said, “I want to start a family. It’s time. I have the man I want. I have where I want to live. My brother and sister both have children. They started young. I’ve waited, and now it’s right.”
So the actress did exactly that, and she and Altman moved away from the bright lights of Hollywood and built a big house for themselves in Maryland. Then, in 1988, their first child, a son called James, was born, followed in 1990 by a girl called Jessica. And upon reflection, Carter appeared to have no regrets about leaving her career behind to become a mother.
In 2017 the now-65-year-old Carter told People of that period, “I spent a lot of time on movie sets – and that is being said in a way right now that I’m grateful for it — but I didn’t have a lot of substance in my life. I found that it was the person. It’s always the people in your life – the friends and family that you choose to spend time with.”
Carter went on, “It is every step you take that is the more difficult step in taking care of your children. The easy way out often ends up being the hardest. I think that the intellectual pursuits in our family were much more the focus of our lives.” Indeed, both James and Jessica had become lawyers in the interim.
And Carter was still considered a very beautiful woman – despite having received very little outside help in warding off the years. Yes, in 2018 the actress told Closer Weekly that her looks were almost completely natural, as all she’d ever had was “a little Botox.” She added, “I don’t think I’m ever going to go under the knife – I am what I am!”
How has Carter managed to still look good into her sixties? Well, in 2016 she revealed some tips and tricks to W magazine. To begin with, she related some of her mom’s own methods, saying, “[My mother] said, ‘Do not go out in the sun. If you do, you’ll end up like a prune or an old leather purse.’ At the time, there was no sun protection, so she’d wear hats and put cream on her face. And she used to give herself a facial with egg whites. She had no wrinkles on her face, and her hands were always soft.”
Carter had followed that advice, too. “I’ve stayed out of the sun, and I harp the same with my daughter,” she continued. “I have used Purpose soap for years and years and [did not wear] a lot of makeup. I would always use Coppertone For Faces Only on my hands when I drive and sunscreen, sunscreen, sunscreen!”
In the same interview, Carter was asked why Wonder Woman was always “done up like a sex bomb.” To this, the actress answered, “Wonder Woman was totally not a predatory female. It’s not in her wheelhouse at all. And I never played Wonder Woman; I always played [her alter-ego] Diana Prince. I always played her, and that’s just what she wore.”
But no matter what Wonder Woman wore or what she looked like, she was an inspiration to many – including Carter’s daughter, Jessica. And in May 2020 the young woman spoke to Forbes about her mother’s career and what the two of them shared. It appeared, too, that Jessica just so happened to look a lot like her famous mom.
Indeed, the media had been commenting for a while on the resemblance between the two women. For example, following the pair’s trip to a 2018 premiere of the movie Super Troopers 2, website Hollywood Life noted that Carter “look[ed] gorgeous at a red carpet alongside her twin of a daughter.”
But Jessica seemingly inherited her mother’s work ethic along with her flowing brunette hair, cheekbones and striking eyes. After graduating from the University of Michigan in both law and psychology, the young woman managed to land a position at the law firm Gibson Dunn & Crutcher.
And speaking to Forbes, Jessica said, “My mom inspires me daily.” She added that as a child, she had once raided her mother’s closet and found the famous television costume hanging there. Following this discovery, Jessica had then “put on the Wonder Woman crown, bracelets and lasso of truth and started running around the house pretending to be a superhero.”
And like her mother, Jessica was interested in music. She told the publication, “I have been singing for as long as I can remember. Whenever I would hear a song, I would immediately start singing and dancing around the kitchen.” She even decided to launch a career in that field, in fact.
Jessica wasn’t alone in her love for music, either. She told Forbes, “Whenever our parents went out, [my brother and I] would be home practicing. [Then] as soon as they came home, we would take them to the living room and perform. Looking back, I am amazed at [my parents’] patience after a long day to sit and watch us.”
And in the years since, Carter had done more than just that. Apparently, during Jessica’s time in law school, her mom had asked her to perform at the Kennedy Center. The young woman further explained, “My mother assembled a band of some of the greatest musicians in the world who are in the hall of fame and are some of the most recorded artists in history, yet they welcomed me like family and imparted invaluable lessons about performing.”
Then, following her bar exam, Jessica decided that she would try to follow both of her passions at the same time. She told Forbes, “Why should I quit? Who determined that it was impossible to pursue music and law? Simply because I do not know someone who has followed this path, [it] does not mean that I can’t.”
So, Jessica called her first record No Rules – and for good reason. She explained, “This EP started at the beginning of my legal career. I had to find a delicate balance between my responsibilities at my firm and my music. And throughout this process, I have discovered that, indeed, there are ‘no rules.’”
But Jessica wasn’t going to juggle two careers at the same time. She said to Forbes, “I recently decided to leave my law firm to pursue music full time. I am tremendously grateful to have had the opportunity to work with such a remarkable group of professionals, but [I] decided that I wanted to focus on a career in music.”
Of course, Jessica’s father had once been in the law, too. After being questioned about Altman, Jessica said, “He practiced as an attorney in Washington, D.C. for more than 25 years. But 20 years ago, he decided to pursue an artistic business and establish what is now a leading video game company. I guess the creative gene runs deep.”
And Jessica still retained a love of the legal world. She revealed, “I always knew I wanted to go to law school; I was just unsure where it would take me. My legal background has certainly helped me navigate the business side of music, but it has also instilled a certain kind of discipline that I rely on in pursuing music.”
The famous actress’ daughter continued to explain to the magazine, “The thing I love about being a lawyer is the ability to help people. The intellectual nature of law has always appealed to me. But there is no comparison to being able to use your knowledge and particular skill set to help someone.” That’s a very Wonder Woman mindset.
And people on social media have suggested that perhaps Jessica could play a version of Wonder Woman one day. Indeed, while actress Gal Gadot has most recently portrayed the character on the big screen, there’s still scope for the lawyer-turned-musician to eventually take on the role.
In the meantime, Carter herself has continued to sing Wonder Woman’s praises – even though she retired from the role long ago. During a 2019 preview for the Calgary Expo, she told the press, “[Wonder Woman] could protect herself and protect the people she cared about – for the right reasons. That’s why I think one of the reasons why my depiction of her was lasting or enduring.”
And while, to date, neither Carter nor her daughter have appeared in the modern-day Wonder Woman films, the veteran actress claims that director Patty Jenkins would be happy for her to make a cameo in a future movie. If that ever happens, perhaps she should bring Jessica along for the ride.
But, of course, Jessica isn’t the only woman to bear a distinct resemblance to her beautiful mom. Take Rita Hayworth’s daughter, for example, whose looks also echo those of her famous parent. And for fans of the silver-screen icon, that fact alone may make Princess Yasmin Aga Khan worth watching.
As one of the most glamorous stars of Hollywood’s Golden Age, Hayworth lit up the screen during her peak in the ’30s and ’40s. But even though the star is sadly no longer with us, part of her lives on in her daughter. And while Yasmin has taken a very different path in life to her famous mom, she has still inherited the late actress’ striking beauty.
Before Yasmin was born, though, Hayworth had already been through two marriages. In 1937 the movie icon tied the knot with Edward Judson, although the pair ultimately ended their union five years later. And the actress didn’t waste any time in finding husband number two. In 1943 she got hitched to legendary director Orson Welles, and within a year the pair had become parents to daughter Rebecca.
Sadly, the five-year mark proved to be the breaking point once more, with Hayworth and Welles officially calling time on their marriage in 1948. Undeterred, the star would say ‘I do’ in 1949 to Prince Aly Khan. This relationship produced Yasmin later that same year, although Hayworth found herself yet again heading for the divorce court in 1953.
Dick Haymes would become husband number four in 1953, although at just two years, the marriage proved to be Hayworth’s shortest. Then, finally, in 1958 she walked down the aisle for a fifth time, with James Hill as the lucky groom. This, too, failed to last. And after the couple parted ways in 1961, Hayworth – having perhaps realized her errors – remained single until her death in 1987.
Of these five marriages, though, the relationship with Khan was undoubtedly the most scandalous. After all, both he and Hayworth were wed to other people when they met in 1948 at a bash on the French Riviera. And in a contemporary piece about the globetrotting romance, the British tabloid The People was scathing, saying, “The extravagant expeditions of this colored prince and his ‘friend’ have become an insult to decent-minded women the world over.”
Harry Cohn, the president of Columbia Studios, also wasn’t particularly happy about this latest chapter in Hayworth’s turbulent love life. In fact, after the actress walked away from a Hollywood project to travel the world with Khan, Cohn sued her for $1.2 million. Hayworth, for her part, simply ignored all the bad press, and in 1949 she married the rich playboy in the French commune of Vallauris.
Sadly, Hayworth and Khan’s fairytale romance didn’t exactly get a happy ending. Firstly, the couple reportedly became embroiled in a bitter custody fight over Yasmin after they filed for divorce in 1951. Then, just nine years later, Khan tragically lost his life in a car accident.
And, interestingly, it’s possible to draw parallels between Yasmin’s love life and that of her iconic mom. For example, in 1985 Hayworth’s youngest child similarly tied the knot with a man of great wealth. He was Basil Embiricos, and together the shipping heir and Yasmin welcomed son Andrew in 1986. Within two years, however, the pair had gone their separate ways.
Then, in 1989, Yasmin got hitched for a second time to Christopher Jeffries. Unfortunately, though, he didn’t prove to be “the one,” either, as within four years he and Yasmin had parted company. And, distressingly, Hayworth’s daughter suffered even more heartache in 2011 when her only son took his own life.
Andrew had reportedly struggled with drug addiction and was said to have undergone several stints in rehab. And, tragically, the young man had apparently previously attempted suicide before being found at his apartment in Manhattan. He was just 25 years old at the time of his death.
Since then, Yasmin has opened up about her famous family – including her legendary mom. Speaking to Fox News in 2018, she said of Hayworth, “She was just a wonderful mother. So loving, so caring… I remember being on the set of Pal Joey with Frank Sinatra and just how I was in awe of her. And just the excitement of Circus World with John Wayne. But I just remember her as a loving, loving mother.”
Luckily for Yasmin, she also hadn’t been left too scarred by her parents’ split. In fact, she contradicted press reports that the pair had been constantly at war with each other. Yasmin said, “I would visit my father and spend the summers with him in the south of France. [He and my mother] had a good relationship after their divorce, so that was helpful. There weren’t any bad feelings.”
And despite having had a bona fide silver screen icon for a mother and a rich prince for a father, Yasmin wasn’t allowed to become spoiled. In fact, Hayworth made sure that her daughter had as normal a childhood as possible. Yasmin recalled, “She really taught me important things, such as taking care of my room, making my bed and making sure my clothes were off the floor.”
Yasmin had previously spoken about Hayworth’s parenting style in a People interview that had been published shortly after Hayworth’s death. There, she had revealed, “At home, [Hayworth] was quite strict. She allowed me to watch television only on weekends when there was no school. In my early teens I wasn’t allowed to go out on dates, but [I] could have my boyfriends and girlfriends over to the house.”
Yasmin continued, “Mother wasn’t judgmental, but she would give my visitors a subtle once-over before she would allow me to spend more time with them. I think that instinct came from her own strict Catholic background. I wasn’t allowed to go on a date alone until I was 16.”
In her interview with Fox News, however, Yasmin admitted that things had started to get a little more challenging during her high school years. This was a period in which the teenager had begun to notice that her then-50-something mother wasn’t always quite herself. Yasmin explained further, saying, “I just noticed that in some phone calls, [my mom] was slightly off and repetitive.”
“I didn’t understand it,” Yasmin went on to admit. “And then I would go home and find the same thing. [Hayworth was experiencing] repetition, a bit of paranoia [and] hearing things that weren’t there, [and then she would hit] the panic button for the police. It started slowly back then… That would be in the ’60s.”
Unfortunately, life only appeared to get worse for Hayworth after her daughter had moved to Vermont to continue her studies at Bennington College. Yasmin told Fox News, “She would become more repetitive. I found it really odd… I didn’t understand it… She would say to me, ‘I can’t remember’ and laugh it off.”
Hayworth’s mental deterioration became more evident in 1971 when she ventured into the theater world, with the actress’ stage ambitions being swiftly cut short after she repeatedly forgot her lines. Five years later, an article in People magazine also alleged that Hayworth had been “drunk, agitated and confused” after disembarking from a flight to London.
And the situation became even more desperate in 1981 when Hayworth was deemed unable to look after herself by a Los Angeles court. As a result, she moved to the Big Apple; there, she was cared for by her youngest daughter, who also became her legal guardian. Of this period, Yasmin revealed to Fox News, “My motherly instincts just took over. It was a natural thing for me to help [my mom] and go through this with her.”
Later that year, Ronald Fieve, a doctor at the Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center in New York, would determine that Hayworth had Alzheimer’s. And Yasmin was left with mixed feelings about the news, saying in her Fox News interview, “By the time [Hayworth] was diagnosed, she really wasn’t totally aware. But it was difficult… She would look at me and say, ‘Who are you?’”
Yasmin continued, “[My mother] would get angry for no reason and belligerent. Not all people with dementia get that way, but she did… I had to regulate her medication as she became more aggressive… And just the basics of eventually trying to get her in the shower [was difficult]. It was very painful.”
Thankfully, Yasmin also received much-needed support at the time from the Alzheimer’s Association. Formed in 1980, the organization was set up to help caregivers deal with a condition that was very much a mystery at the time. And for Hayworth’s daughter, Jerome H. Stone, the association’s president, was particularly a source of great comfort.
Yasmin said, “[The Alzheimer’s Association] found me and said, ‘We have this small organization, and we would love for you to be a part of it. We can share our heartache and our pain and also what’s coming next. Preparation… [for] the disease and what to expect down the road.’ They were there for me. I was able to talk to those family members, and we could share our issues. It was wonderful.”
In her chat with Fox News, Yasmin revealed that she had also asked for some divine intervention during her mother’s final years. She explained, “When [my mother] was near death… I called in the priest for her last rites. [After that], she lived another two years. Her heart was so strong, but she really didn’t recognize anyone. It was a slow decline. She had wonderful care.”
The fact that Hayworth was being cared for next door also helped Yasmin cope. She added, “I could go in and talk to [my mother] in her ear. I always felt like I had to communicate; maybe somewhere she would hear me. And then my son was born in 1985. I would bring him in and talk to her. I wasn’t sure if she knew or not, but I thought it was important to be there and share, because one never knows.”
Sadly, if inevitably, Hayworth finally succumbed to the disease in 1987 at the age of 68. Yet her death wasn’t in vain, as Yasmin became inspired to forge a very different career from that of her mother’s. In particular, she has become a keen advocate of and fundraiser for Alzheimer’s research in the hope that a cure will eventually be discovered.
During her conversation with Fox News, Yasmin admitted that she had initially been left frustrated about the lack of media attention paid to Alzheimer’s disease. She said, “I think it was disappointing to me that someone in Hollywood didn’t step up and take the cause, like Elizabeth Taylor [had] with AIDS. It’s been a long road. And now the press writes about it… Every country is affected by the disease.”
And although Alzheimer’s disease is now covered far more widely by the press, Yasmin nevertheless told Fox News that she was still determined to raise even more awareness. She said, “Just having the experience of a loved one with the disease, and seeing the decline and knowing so many people have [it]… That motivates me. I’m hoping that we find the answers in my lifetime… That’s been my motivation. We need to find a cure.”
In fact, Yasmin is now the president of a federation known as Alzheimer’s Disease International. And in 2019 she once again spoke about how the condition has affected her personally in an interview with Canadian daily newspaper The Globe and Mail. There, Hayworth’s youngest daughter began by recalling her mother’s behavior before her official diagnosis.
Yasmin said, “[My mother] started with symptoms in her early 50s. There was a lot of confusion, disorientation [and] mood changes, and she became quite aggressive. She’d hear voices outside the house and call the police, [but] the police would come and there was nobody there… She was forgetful, accusatory. It was confusing and difficult, and it wasn’t until she actually had a collapse that I could get her to a doctor.”
Hayworth’s alcohol intake also left Yasmin believing that it was a factor in her mother’s demise. “She had also been drinking – not heavily, but the alcohol exacerbated the plaques and tangles in the brain that were being created with the disease,” Yasmin continued. “I thought she had this serious drinking problem, but there was this element of brain disease.”
Yasmin then recalled exactly how her mother was diagnosed, adding, “She had a brain scan, and she had memory testing by a neurologist. And between the brain scan and the memory testing – like, ‘Who’s the president of the United States?’ – they actually diagnosed her then, which is quite unbelievable. It was confirmed on autopsy when she passed, where you could see the plaques and tangles.”
Meanwhile, following her diagnosis, Hayworth developed a love of painting – something that was apparently a great coping mechanism. “It brought her peace, and she had some talent,” Yasmin revealed. “There weren’t medications at the time. Today we do have medications, which can help slow [the disease] down for some people and also help the mood. I think that’s where painting comes in and music comes in, with mood, to help relieve the stress.”
Hayworth also loved playing the castanets in her final years, and her daughter may even have inherited her sense of rhythm. Yasmin added, “When I went to university, I was a music major. Timpani was my specialty [as well as] voice. I was going to go to Europe to study, [but] that’s when my mother’s disease heightened, [so] it was really necessary that I step[ped] in.”
But musical talent isn’t the only thing that Hayworth shared with her daughter, as Yasmin has also become renowned on the New York society scene for her sense of glamor. Vogue magazine editor-in-chief Anna Wintour was just one of several fashion icons who attended a ceremony in the Big Apple honoring the Alzheimer’s research advocate in 1991.
And in 2011 Yasmin made headlines for her glitzy appearance at the Rita Hayworth Gala – the annual fundraiser she had set up in memory of her mother. A HuffPost article on the occasion read, “Even at 61, Yasmin was [as] glamorous as ever in super-bright pink. The dress, complete with sheer sleeves and an intricate bodice, matched the lipstick – the boldest we’ve seen in some time. And like a good princess, she was dripping in diamonds.”
Unsurprisingly, Yasmin has worried she may inherit the disease that ultimately killed her mother – although she has also acknowledged that there’s nothing she can do about the situation. During her 1987 People interview, she claimed, “I’ve learned to live my life day by day. There is so much illness and disease in this world [that] you have to resist giving in to your fears.”
And Yasmin went on to reveal that she was trying to remain as upbeat as possible. She added, “But there is beauty and joy [in the world], too, and that is what you have to concentrate on. You have to use every ounce of willpower you have to live as freely as possible without wasting energy on fear.”
Concluding the interview, Yasmin remarked, “I know my mother will be remembered for her beauty, her talent [and] for giving so much of herself. My mother was a very loving, very lovely lady. I will miss her very much, but her spirit will be with me always, and I know by making this transition she will be at rest and in peace.”