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History with Phil: Wonder Woman's creator had unusual life

History with Phil: Wonder Woman's creator had unusual life


Wonder Woman 1984 is now playing in theaters across the country. The creator of Wonder Woman was Dr. William Marston.

Marston was actively involved in the earliest movements for women's rights, including issues of voting, equality in jobs and birth control. Because of this, it's not surprising that Marston created Wonder Woman. He felt that women needed a symbol of power in such a changing time in women's rights. He said, "Not even girls want to be girls so long as our feminine archetypes lack force, strength and power."

Wonder Woman made her first appearance in 1941 in All Star Comics #8. After winning a poll as the best new comic book character, Wonder Woman began her own comic series in 1942 (it would end in 1986).

Because Marston was well educated in both Greek and Roman mythology, Wonder Woman possesses many of these characteristics. One such trait is that according to "Aphrodite's Law”, her powers would be gone if she were ever restrained by a man. Wonder Woman's super powers came from her unique ability to transfer vast amounts of mental energy into physical strength. Her given name was Princess Diana of Themyscira, in public, she was known as Diana Prince.

Wonder Woman would eventually go on to become the third-longest running comic book in history, behind only the big two — Batman and Superman.

It was while Marston was working as a professor at Tufts University that he met a student named Olive Byrne. He soon fell in love with her. But, there was a problem, a big one — Marston was already married. He informed his wife that unless she agreed to allow Byrne to live with them, he would leave her. Surprisingly, his wife agreed and they lived together as one family. To quell rumors about the odd living arrangement, Marston told people that Byrne was the widowed sister-in-law of his wife. Marston would go on to father children with both of them.

It’s thought that it was his lover, Olive Byrne who served as the physical model for Wonder Woman.

Creating Wonder Woman was not the only big thing Marston did in his life. He also created a new tool that would become a part of law enforcement.

He began working on his device in 1915, but it would be his wife, Elizabeth, that provided the inspiration he needed to complete his work. She told him that when she was excited or angry, her blood pressure seemed to go up. Marston believed that when people lie, their blood pressure increases. Thus, the first version of the polygraph machine was born (later versions added additional physiological indicators such as blood pressure, pulse, respiration, and skin conductivity).

Marston’s new invention would go on to be a big hit with law enforcement. The process itself was simple enough. First, a record the suspect’s blood pressure was made. After asking him a question, a record of the blood pressure was made to see if there were any changes. If the suspect displayed a spike in blood pressure, that supposedly meant he was being deceptive in his answers.

After Marston died in 1947, his wife and lover continued living together until Olive Byrne’s death in the late 1980s.

By the way, a first issue of Wonder Woman recently sold for $936,000. Perhaps you should take a look at what’s in your attic.


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