Can’t we all get along?
See! High in the sky! Is this Gal Gadot? Is this Lynda Carter? No, it’s Ellie Wood Walker, the world’s first Wonder Woman!
Board an invisible plane and travel with us to the past as you explore Walker’s exciting origin. Our story begins, not on the shores of Paradise Island, but on the shores of the Ohio River. That’s right! This incredible Amazon hails from the center of the universe, Maysville, Kentucky!
Ellie Wood Walker was born Ellie Wood, daughter of Clarence and Dot Wood. Many remember Dot Wood as the beloved Twilight Lady who charmed the Maysville community with her storytelling on WFTM in the 1950s.
From the age of five, Walker grew up in Maysville. She is best known for her beauty, talent and kindness.
“Ellie was my teenage idol,” confessed Linda Woodmansee, a native of Maysville, Memphis Tennessee.
“I was younger and wanted to look like her and dance like her, etc. I was one of the many people who felt that way.”
Walker attended Maysville High School. She played clarinet in the MHS band and was crowned prom queen in 1953. It wouldn’t be the last time we’d see her in a tiara.
After graduating, Walker left Maysville to attend Northwestern University in Chicago. She then had big dreams in one leap and landed a career in show business as a June Taylor dancer.
In 1962, she married actor Robert Walker Jr, who is best remembered for his role as Charles Evans in the original “Star Trek” series.
Along with her work as a dancer, Walker starred in summer productions and would eventually land roles in films such as the thriller “Targets” and the cult classic “Easy Rider”.
Meanwhile, under the majestic Wayne Manor, “Batman” producer William Dozier decided it was time to bring another comic book hero to the small screen. Sounds like a job for… Ellie Wood Walker! Maysville’s won the coveted role of the world’s first Wonder Woman!
Filming for the five-minute television pilot took place at Greenway Studios in 1967. Unlike the sophisticated camp of the hit series “Batman,” the Wonder Woman pilot’s tone was downright awkward. Written by Mad Magazine writers Stan Hart and Larry Siegel, it was a far cry from the Wonder Woman we knew from the comics.
The story opens with a dark and stormy night in a typical middle-class house. A Diana Prince in civilian clothes falls off the sofa trying to fold a newspaper. Diana’s mother, played by the character’s actress, Maudie Prickett, spends the entire show harassing Diana into settling down and getting married. With dialogues like “How do you expect to have a husband when you steal all the time?” Was obviously not the noble queen of the Amazons.
Suddenly, Diana worries that Steve Trevor is in danger and that the world needs Wonder Woman! Against her mother’s wishes, Diana dons her iconic costume. In fact, the costume Walker wears is pretty close to the one Wonder Woman wears in the comics, except her star-studded shorts are baggy boxers, and her eagle-adorned bustier hangs loosely from her.
Perhaps the pilot’s strangest moment is when Wonder Woman spends an entire minute admiring herself in the mirror. Walker is hilarious as she waves and kisses each other to the classic “Oh, You Beautiful Doll” tune. Strangely, the actress in the reflection is not Ellie Wood Walker, but actress Linda Harrison (best known for playing Nova in “Planet of the Apes”) in a more appealing and fitted costume. Eventually, Wonder Woman is able to tear herself away from… herself as she runs to a window and steps out onto a ledge. “Far away, vision of enchantment!
Despite Walker’s best efforts, no TV channel took an interest in this absurd, but very funny, version of Wonder Woman. The pilot was never broadcast and was quickly forgotten.
An animated version of Wonder Woman arrived on television as a founding member of “Superfriends” in 1973, but it took two more tries and nearly a decade before a Live-Action Wonder Woman met with success at the television.
A second pilot starring Cathy Lee Crosby aired on ABC in 1974. Again, this wasn’t the Wonder Woman fans knew. Crosby seemed more of a secret agent than a superhero. Dressed in a red, white and blue polyester jumpsuit, the blonde actress looked more like Carol Brady at a July 4th picnic than Wonder Woman.
Finally, just a year later, a pilot film aptly titled “The New Original Wonder Woman” premiered on ABC. With a heartfelt portrayal of the characters and storylines taken straight from the comics, this was the Wonder Woman everyone was waiting for. It was an instant hit with fans and critics. Even feminist icon Betty Friedan loved it. The series ran from 1975 to 1979, making its star Lynda Carter a household name.
Today, the Wonder Woman character is more popular than ever with a big-screen blockbuster under her golden belt and a comic book only superseded by Superman and Batman. As the Incredible Amazon turns 80, one wonders what it is all about with this character who has drawn decades of devoted fans.
Shannon Farnon, who many consider to be the official voice of Wonder Woman, was kind enough to share her thoughts on the character’s longevity and her loyal fan base.
“Wonder Woman is the archetype of the strong, intelligent and capable woman, not subject to masculine energy but equal,” says Farnon. “She brings the wisdom of the gods to overcome problems without weapons or bloodshed. So, men, women and children relate to kindness and a sense of justice for all that it embodies, fans are devoted to the ideal. Many raised their daughters with that sense of fullness, which was sorely lacking before its creation and publication in 1941. “
Farnon was the voice of Wonder Woman in “Superfriends” from 1973 to 1983. She played the character longer than any other actress.
Meanwhile, at the Hall of Justice, justice has finally been served on the forgotten 1967 Wonder Woman pilot. There has been a resurgence of interest in the pilot over the years thanks to viewings at comic book conventions, podcast reviews and DVD bonuses. Many in Maysville know him from Ron Bailey’s “You May Be From Maysville” Facebook page. Most see the Silly Pilot as a train wreck, but many fans are won over by the absurdity of it all and Walker’s comedic take on the character.
” It’s hilarious ! Says Walker’s sister Dorothy Braudy of Los Angeles, California. “Ellie has always loved to clown. Always does! “
However, many die-hard Wonder Woman fans don’t find it funny at all and see the pilot as an insult to all that is wonderful about Wonder Woman. Christie Marston, granddaughter of Wonder Woman creator William Moulton Marston, agrees.
“I didn’t even remember it existed until I started helping out with the museum,” admits Marston, who is also curator of the Wonder Woman Family Museum in Bethel, Connecticut. “I really thought it was a travesty until I did some research. “
However, its popularity continues to grow. Even the Hollywood Reporter recently reviewed the pilot of 67 saying, “This is so bad, it is almost a work of art!
Love it or hate it, the five-minute pilot forgotten for over 50 years has become cult. Probably seen more than any other unreleased television pilot in history, the 1967 Wonder Woman pilot earned her place in the history books and earned Ellie Wood Walker the title of first person to play Wonder Woman. !
But what about Walker? Where is our woman of the hour with her super power? What happened to the hometown superhero of Maysville?
Have no fear, good citizens! Ellie Wood Walker is alive and well with a wonderful life in Taos, New Mexico. She is the mother of three children: Michelle, David and Charlie. She still plays the clarinet. She also plays the drums and she always dances!
Walker also has wonderful memories of the Wonder Woman pilot and her childhood in Maysville, which she detailed in this exclusive interview for The Ledger Independent.
Q. How did the role of Wonder Woman come about? Was there an audition process or did Greenway Productions already have you in mind for the role?
A. At the time, I thought it was an audition, but we ended up shooting straight away. My stepfather, David Selznick, promoted me, having seen me on an off-Broadway show. He was a fan and friend of William Dozier, the producer of “Wonder Woman”.
Q. Did you know the Wonder Woman character before you were chosen in the pilot?
A. I never read the comics, but, yes, I knew that this creature existed and that it was definitely part of the culture.
Q. Did you find it strange that you were presented as a klutzy, “plain Jane” version of Wonder Woman when you yourself were so well known for your beauty and grace?
A. (Laughs) No, I didn’t find it weird because I AM a klutz and a clown.
Q. Are you aware of the surge in popularity and interest in the Wonder Woman pilot over the past few years due to screenings at comic book conventions etc?
A. It’s funny! No, I didn’t know.
Q. Do you have any favorite memories from your childhood in Maysville?
A. My best memories of Maysville… Performing in the Maysville High School Band with the great John K. Farris and dancing in the Brown Dance Studio Reviews. And living on the Ohio River before the flood wall.
Q. Do you have any advice for Maysville kids who dream of getting into show business?
A. No! (laughing). No just kidding. Yes, I would definitely recommend that children express themselves and follow their dreams. And they don’t have to go to Hollywood. They don’t have to leave Maysville! With today’s technology, you can do it all … do it all. Be creative! There is so much you can do. Free yourself from dogma! Yes, get into show business! I am so grateful that I grew up in Maysville when I did. There were so many creative outlets! Playing in the Maysville High School band under the direction of Johnny Farris meant so much to me. Everyone is working together to make it happen. It was a wonderful time. So free yourself from dogma! Go after your dream. And with the way things are in the world today, I want every child to go to bed well nourished, in a safe home … always praying for peace.
Wise words, indeed! It seems that behind all the awkwardness and the crossed stares beats the heart of a true Wonder Woman… and her name is Ellie Wood Walker! The 1967 pilot can be viewed on Youtube and was also shared on Ron Bailey’s You May Be From Maysville Facebook page. DC Comics will release a Wonder Woman 80e 100-page spectacular anniversary in October.