Margot Kidder, actress, advocate, and activist, died Sunday in Montana. She was 69. She was most famous for her role as Lois Lane in 1978’s “Superman,” a part that she made iconic with her talent, charisma, grace, and power. But she was also more than just that character; she lived a fascinating life of heroic highs and deep, depressing lows. She was an icon, on and off the screen, for Truth and Justice.
Margot Kidder was born on October 17, 1948, in Yellowknife, Canada in the Northwest Territories. She saw acting as a way to “get out” after seeing a production of Bye Bye Birdie in New York. She often spoke of her ambivalence towards acting, using her fame for the adventure. She used appearances in shows like The American Sportsman, in order to learn to hang glide. Recording herself in-flight. She appeared in Playboy along with a subversive and fantastic
article she wrote about how the magazine made her feel inadequate when she was 14, along with a scathing comparison of her body to those of usual Playboy models.
Kidder suffered from Bi-polar disorder most of her life, affecting her relationships and life. She counts former Canadian prime minister Pierre Trudeau, Brian De Palma, Steven Spielberg, and Richard Pryor. Among her ex’s. She married Thomas McGuane and had a daughter with him, only to divorce him and marry John Heard 3 years later in 1979. That marriage only lasted for six days. Her final marriage was to French film director Philippe de Broca. After their divorce a year later, she swore off weddings.
She wasn’t diagnosed with Bi-polar or mania until her infamous breakdown in 1996 after a series of terrible accidents and traumas. She was left partially paralyzed after a car accident in 1990 and confined to a wheelchair. She was working on an autobiography when a computer virus destroyed three years of work. She flew to LA to see if it could be fixed and after being informed that her data was gone, she had a manic episode and disappeared for four days. She was found in a backyard asking for help and was given psychiatric care. She claims that since then with proper care and healthy living she never had another manic
episode since then.
After her recovery, she became a politic activist, a hardcore democratic and liberal, she spoke out against the Gulf War and for questioning it, became known as “Baghdad Betty” by Pro-War News sources. Later, she was given the moniker “Ax Max” for criticizing Max Baucus, Montana’s Democratic senator.
Most famously, she was arrested in Washington D.C. for protesting the extension of the Keystone Pipeline, sharing her winning smile with the press as they put her in cuffs. She has appeared in films, commercials, and written many articles speaking out against Fraking and supporting Bernie Sanders.
Margot Kidder made her film debut in 1968 in The Best Damn Fiddler from Calabogie to Kaladar. From there she worked regularly in both TV and film, gaining notoriety for her talent, beauty, and professionalism. She co-stared with Gene Wilder in Quackser Fortune Has a Cousin in the Bronx (1970) and followed that up by working with, and dating, Brian De Palma in the cult classic Sisters (1973). She won 2 Canadian Film Award for Best Actress Awards for her role in Black Christmas (1974) and A Quiet Day in Belfast (1974). She also starred in Terrence Malick’s The Gravy Train (1974). She worked with Robert Redford in the The Great Waldo Pepper and with Peter Fonda in The Shade (1975). After she had her child she returned to acting in a big way, landing her most iconic role as Lois Lane in Superman. She would win a Saturn Award for her part. She followed that up with the horror classed The Amityville Horror. Later that year Kidder would host Saturday Night Live and one of my favorite sketches of all time.
She continued to find work and critical acclaim on stage, TV, and screen until the 90’s when her breakdown caused a decline in her career. While still appearing in many projects, they were no-where near the caliber she was accustomed to. After her recovery her work took an upswing in the 2000’s, appearing in Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, Crime and Punishment and on the off-Broadway show, The Vagina Monologues, touring with the production for 2 years. She was seen regularly on TV in The L Word, Brothers and Sisters, Smallville, and the Rob Zombie film Halloween II. In 2015 Kidder won an Emmy award for Outstanding Performer in Children’s Programming for her performance in R.L. Stine’s The Haunting Hour.
Quickly after her death was announced, celebrities and icons took to twitter to express their sympathies.
— Mark Hamill (@HamillHimself) May 14, 2018
My Lois Lane has passed away. RIP Margot Kidder. Thank you for my favourite movie ever. pic.twitter.com/dUmxwOUjyi
— Mark Millar (@mrmarkmillar) May 14, 2018
Sad to hear of the passing of Margot Kidder. A spark of vivacious life in all of her films. I loved her in cult horrors ‘Sisters’ and ‘Black Christmas’. And of course she remains the best Lois Lane in the magical ‘Superman’ & ‘Superman II’. RIP to a unique screen presence. pic.twitter.com/bQEVv7PSa3
— edgarwright (@edgarwright) May 14, 2018
RIP Margot Kidder. One of my favorite movies of hers is the original Black Christmas. It introduced some elements that are now genre tropes and she’s fantastic in it.
— Kumail Nanjiani (@kumailn) May 14, 2018
Thank you for being the Lois Lane so many of us grew up with. RIP, Margot Kidder. pic.twitter.com/IhY73TB52P
— DC (@DCComics) May 14, 2018
— Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation (@ReeveFoundation) May 14, 2018
Margot Kidder has 2 of my most used examples in film. The first is when Donner claimed his thesis for the Superman movie was “Verisimilitude.” This scene when, Superman first appears and catches Lois as she falls from the building- the look of shock, horror, and confusion is completely real to her and her line of dialogue is spoken perfectly. “You’ve got me!? Whose got you!” This is real, this is a scene that brought Superman from the funny pages into real life and changed who I am as a person forever.
3:22 for her famous voice squeak on “you”
There is a second example here. An example of talent, that I always use. Margot Kidder and Christopher Reeve in their audition scene, speaking Mario Puzzo’s words and Richard Donner’s direction is nothing but pure magic from every angle. This scene would never see the light of day in the released films… but Lois tricking Clark into revealing his identity… “Not with blanks…” is one of my favorite defining character moments of all time. 9:23 for “Gatcha”