Born: October 17, 1948
Died: May 13, 2018 (at age 69)
Birthplace: Yellowknife, Northwest Territories, Canada
Margaret Ruth Kidder (October 17, 1948 - May 13, 2018), professionally known as Margot Kidder, was a Canadian-American actress and activist. She rose to fame in 1978 for her role as Lois Lane in the Superman film series, alongside Christopher Reeve.
Kidder began her career in the 1960s appearing in low-budget Canadian films and television series, before landing a lead role in Quackser Fortune Has a Cousin in the Bronx (1970). She then played twins in Brian De Palma's cult thriller Sisters (1973), a sorority student in the slasher film Black Christmas (1974) and the titular character's girlfriend in the drama The Great Waldo Pepper (1975), opposite Robert Redford. Her performance as Kathy Lutz in the blockbuster horror film The Amityville Horror (1979) gained her further mainstream exposure.
By the late 1980s, Kidder's career began to slow. In 1996, she had a highly publicized manic episode and nervous breakdown. By the 2000s, she maintained steady work in independent films and television, with guest-starring roles on Smallville, Brothers & Sisters and The L Word. In 2015, she won a Daytime Emmy Award for her performance on the children's television series R.L. Stine's The Haunting Hour. She also acted in theatrical productions, most notably appearing on Broadway in a 2002 production of The Vagina Monologues.
In 2005, Kidder became a naturalized U.S. citizen. She was an outspoken political, environmental and anti-war activist. She died at her home in May 2018 in Livingston, Montana, aged 69, in what was later ruled a suicide by drug overdose.Kidder, one of five children, was born in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories, the daughter of Jocelyn Mary "Jill" (née Wilson), a history teacher, and Kendall Kidder, an explosives expert and engineer. Kidder also spent time growing up in Labrador City, Newfoundland and Labrador. Her mother was from British Columbia, Canada, and her father was from New Mexico, United States. She was of Welsh and English descent.
Kidder was born in Yellowknife because of her father's job, which required the family to live in remote locations. Her father was manager of the Yellowknife Telephone Company from 1948–51. Kidder recalled her childhood in northern Canada, saying, "We didn't have movies in this little mining town. When I was 12 my mom took me to New York and I saw Bye Bye Birdie, with people singing and dancing, and that was it. I knew I had to go far away. I was clueless, but I okay."
Kidder attended multiple schools during her youth, and graduated from Havergal College, a boarding school in Toronto, in 1966. She had a sister, Annie,[nb 1] who is a Canadian actress and executive director of the People for Education charity, and three brothers: John, Michael and Peter. Kidder's niece Janet Kidder is also an actress.
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Kidder made her film debut in a 49-minute film titled The Best Damn Fiddler from Calabogie to Kaladar (1968), a drama set in a Canadian logging community, which was produced by the Challenge for Change. Her first major feature was the 1969 American film Gaily, Gaily, a comedy starring Beau Bridges. She appeared in a number of TV drama series for the CBC, including guest appearances on Wojeck, Adventures in Rainbow Country, and a semi-regular role as a young reporter on McQueen, and as a panelist on Mantrap which featured discussions centered on a feminist perspective. During the 1971-72 season, she co-starred as barmaid Ruth in Nichols, a James Garner western, which aired 22 episodes on NBC.
In the late 1960s, Kidder was based in Toronto, and in 1970, relocated to Vancouver. During an August 3, 1970 interview on The Dick Cavett Show, Kidder stated that she was ambivalent toward having a film career, and was considering working as a film editor in the future. She appeared in "Such Dust As Dreams Are Made On", the first pilot for Harry O which aired in March 1973. She was a guest star in a 1972 episode of the George Peppard detective series Banacek.Kidder with Gene Wilder in Quackser Fortune Has a Cousin in the Bronx (1970)
After moving to Los Angeles, Kidder was cast opposite Gene Wilder in Quackser Fortune Has a Cousin in the Bronx (1970) as an exchange student in Ireland who becomes the love interest of a poor horse manure collector in Dublin whom she almost runs over with her car. After filming in Ireland, Kidder relocated to New York City to further study acting. A year later, she returned to California, and was cast in the Brian De Palma film Sisters (1973), which gained notoriety for both director and Kidder, who as leading lady, portrayed conjoined twins. Kidder had been in a relationship with De Palma at the time, and had been roommates with co-star Jennifer Salt in Los Angeles.
She then starred in the slasher film Black Christmas (1974), for which she won a Canadian Film Award for Best Actress; followed by a role as a prostitute in the Terrence Malick-scripted The Gravy Train (1974). She received another Canadian Film Award for Best Actress for her performance in the war drama A Quiet Day in Belfast (1974).
Kidder was cast in a lead role in The Great Waldo Pepper (1975) opposite Robert Redford, she also appeared in The Reincarnation of Peter Proud and 92 in the Shade (1975) with Peter Fonda, all of which established her as a commercially viable leading lady. Kidder famously married the director of 92 in the Shade, Thomas McGuane. She appeared in the March 9, 1975 edition of The American Sportsman, learning how to hang glide, and providing the narration, with a remote microphone recording her reactions in flight; the segment concluded with Kidder doing solos soaring amid the Wyoming Rockies.
Kidder appeared in the March 1975 issue of Playboy, photographed in black and white by Douglas Kirkland, with the article written by Kidder herself.
After taking a break from acting after the birth of her daughter in 1976, Kidder sought to return to making films in the late 1970s. After a script reading of Lois Lane for the 1978 superhero film Superman: The Movie, Kidder was flown to England by Richard Donner for screen-tests. Donner ultimately cast Kidder in the role, which would become her most iconic. Filming took over a year, and the film was released during Christmas 1978, to major commercial success. Kidder won a Saturn Award for best actress for her performance in the film. Kidder publicly disagreed with the decision of producers Alexander Salkind and Ilya Salkind to replace Richard Donner as director for Superman II (1980). It was reported that as a result, Kidder's role in Superman III (1983) consisted of less than five minutes of footage, though the producers have denied this in DVD commentaries. Her role in Superman IV: The Quest for Peace (1987) was more substantial.
Kidder's performance as Kathy Lutz in the summer release of The Amityville Horror (1979) further cemented her status as one of Hollywood's leading ladies. The Amityville Horror was a major commercial success, grossing over $86 million in the United States, but received mixed reviews from critics. Janet Maslin of The New York Times, though giving the film a mixed review, said Kidder "stubbornly remains the bright-eyed life of the party ." In retrospect, Kidder called the film "a piece of shit." The same year, Kidder hosted an episode of the American sketch comedy TV show Saturday Night Live.
Kidder continued to work in film throughout the 1980s, appearing in Paul Mazursky's Willie & Phil (1980) and Some Kind of Hero (1982). Her performance in Heartaches (1981) generated critical acclaim and Oscar buzz. As court stenographer-cum-private eye Mickey Raymond, the PG rating Trenchcoat (1983) received led Disney to launch Touchstone Pictures. She appeared opposite James Garner in the Hollywood crime drama The Glitter Dome (1984). In 1985, she toplined Little Treasure for Columbia Tri-Star with co-stars Ted Danson and Burt Lancaster, where she played a distraught stripper looking for her bank robber-father's buried fortune. In 1986 she was selected as the English narrator for the Japanese animated series The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.
A 1982 stage performance of Bus Stop, starring Kidder as Cherie and Tim Matheson as Bo, was broadcast on HBO. In 1983, she produced and starred as Eliza Doolittle in a version of Pygmalion with Peter O'Toole for Showtime. She produced and starred in the French-Canadian period television film Louisiana (1984) as a plantation owner in the American South who returns from Paris to find her estate and holdings have been lost. Body of Evidence (1988), a CBS Movie of the Week, cast Kidder as nurse who is suspicious that her medical pathologist second husband is a serial killer. In 1994, Kidder played the bartender at the Broken Skull Tavern in Under a Killing Moon, an IBM PC adventure game. In 1994 she took time to appear in the Disney Channel movie WindRunner, with Russell Means and Jason Wiles. She made uncredited cameo appearances in Maverick (1994) and Delirious (1991). By the mid-1990s, her career began to decline, which was attributed to her widely publicized nervous breakdown in 1996.
In 2000, Kidder played Eileen Canboro in Apocalypse III: Tribulation, a Christian film dealing with Christian eschatology and the Rapture. Kidder stated afterwards that she did not realize until she was on the set that the movie was serious. Also that year she appeared in three episodes of Peter Benchley's Amazon, playing a striking role as an insane Canadian woman bent on domination of all the local tribes. In 2001, she played the abusive mother of a serial killer in "Pique", an episode of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. In 2002, she appeared alongside Crispin Glover and Vanessa Redgrave in the film adaptation of Crime and Punishment.
Kidder appeared off-Broadway in The Vagina Monologues in December 2002, and toured with the show for two years. After this, she appeared on Robson Arms, a Canadian sitcom set in an apartment block in Vancouver's west end. She played a quirky neighbor of the main cast members. She also had a cameo in Rich Hall's Election Special on BBC Four. In 2006, Kidder played Jenny Schecter's mother Sandy Ziskin on The L Word; her character was a repressed Jewish woman coming to terms with her daughter's sexuality. In 2007, Kidder began appearing on the television series Brothers and Sisters, playing Emily Craft. In 2004, Kidder briefly returned to the Superman franchise in two episodes of the television series Smallville, as Bridgette Crosby, an emissary of Dr. Swann (played by her Superman co-star, Christopher Reeve).
She portrayed an embattled guidance counselor in the 2008 gay-themed mystery film On the Other Hand, Death, as well as a supporting role as Laurie Strode's therapist, in Rob Zombie's Halloween II (2009). In an interview with the LGBT publication The Advocate, Kidder discussed her later career choices:
|“||I'm not choosy at all! I'll do practically anything. I'm the biggest whore on the block. I live in a little town in Montana, and you have to drag me out of here to get to L.A., so I'm not readily available. But unless it's something sexist or cruel, I just love to work. I've done all sorts of things, but you just haven't seen them because they're often very bad and shown at 4 in the morning.||”|
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.
Kidder dated former Canadian prime minister Pierre Trudeau, directors Brian De Palma and Steven Spielberg, writer/director Tom Mankiewicz, and actor/comedian Richard Pryor. She was married and divorced three times. Kidder's first husband was American novelist Thomas McGuane, with whom she had her only child, daughter Maggie McGuane (born 1976). She was married to actor John Heard in 1979 for only six days, and was married to French film director Philippe de Broca from 1983 to 1984.
After her divorce from De Broca, she said that she preferred the companionship of her dogs. Kidder had two grandchildren from her daughter Maggie's marriage to novelist Walter Kirn.
She maintained a close friendship with her Superman co-star Christopher Reeve, which lasted from 1978 until his death in 2004. "When you're strapped to someone hanging from the ceiling for months and months, you get pretty darned close," Kidder told CBS. "He was such a huge part of my life... He was complicated, very smart, really smart, and he knew he'd done something meaningful. He was very aware of that and very happy with that role." Kidder stated in an interview with TV Guide that she was an atheist.
In December 1990, Kidder was seriously injured in a car accident which left her partially paralyzed and confined to a wheelchair. She was unable to work for two years, causing her financial difficulties. She was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, which was the cause of a widely publicized manic episode that she experienced in April 1996. At the time, Kidder had been working on an autobiography when her laptop computer became infected with a virus, which caused it to crash and her to lose three years' worth of drafts. Kidder flew to Los Angeles to have the computer examined by a data retrieval company, who ultimately were unable to retrieve the files. She entered a manic state and disappeared for four days. She was found in a backyard by a homeowner and was taken by the Los Angeles Police Department to Olive View Medical Center in a distressed state, the caps on her teeth having been knocked out during a rape attempt. She was later placed in psychiatric care. In 2007, Kidder said that she had not had a manic episode in 11 years, and credited her well-being to orthomolecular medicine.
Kidder was a longtime supporter of Democratic and liberal causes throughout her career. She credited her interest in politics to conversations her parents would have over the dinner table during her childhood; her mother was Canadian with socialist leanings, while her father was originally from the United States, and was a conservative Republican.
She actively supported Jesse Jackson's bid for the Democratic nomination in the 1984 U.S. presidential election. In the early 1990s, during the first Gulf War, Kidder was branded a "Baghdad Betty" and subjected to abuse for her remarks questioning the war. In a piece called "Confessions of 'Baghdad Betty,'" styled as a letter to her mother and printed in The Nation, Kidder responded by explaining and defending her statements.
As of November 2009, Kidder was the Montana State Coordinator for Progressive Democrats of America. The organization's website carried her article "Ax Max", in which she criticized Max Baucus, Montana's Democratic senator. On August 23, 2011, Kidder, Tantoo Cardinal, and dozens of others were arrested while protesting in Washington D.C. against the proposed extension of the Keystone Pipeline. In 2012, she appeared in a video for Stop the Frack Attack, an environmental organization working toward regulating fracking practices. When discussing sustainable energy, Kidder said: "The first thing people have to start facing, contrary to the advertising fed to us by oil and gas companies, is that environmentalism and economic stability go hand-in-hand on any long term basis."
On August 22, 2015, Kidder was named the host of a dinner event by the Yellowstone County Democrats in Billings, Montana called "Billings for Bernie" in support of Bernie Sanders' presidential primary bid.
She contributed articles to CounterPunch, a left-wing magazine, beginning in 2009. In an article expressing her reaction to the 2016 Democratic National Convention, she wrote, "I am not an American tonight... I reject the words I voiced at my citizenship ceremony."
In addition to her campaigning in the United States, Kidder expressed support for liberal causes in Canada. In 2011, she supported her brother, John Kidder, in British Columbia, who was running to be a member of Canada's Parliament for the Liberal Party:
|“||I'm here not only because John is a dream candidate but because I'm living in the end game in the United States and it's not funny. Canada is starting the same sort of right-wing, corporate ownership of government, corporate tradeoffs with government, smear campaigns, 'let's lower the corporate tax rate without mentioning it's going to up the private tax rates.' It's happening in Canada. God forbid if anyone should bring up privatizing health care.||”|
Kidder became a United States citizen on August 17, 2005, in Butte, Montana and lived in Livingston. She said that she decided to become an American citizen to participate in the voting process, to continue her protests against U.S. intervention in Iraq, and to be free of worries about being deported.
Kidder died on May 13, 2018, at her house in Livingston, Montana, at the age of 69. She was found unresponsive by a friend. The cause of death was initially not released; her agent stated that "she passed away peacefully in her sleep", while, in the days following her death, her friend Jeffrey St. Clair wrote: "I’ve been struggling all week with the image of Margie lying helplessly on the floor of her house." On August 8, 2018, it was reported that Kidder's death had been ruled a suicide by overdose. The Park County, Montana, coroner said her death was "a result of a self-inflicted drug and alcohol overdose".
Kidder's friends have related that she had suffered from poor health in recent years, particularly following her lengthy stay at the Standing Rock protest camp in 2016, often enduring frigid temperatures. DC Comics stated on their Twitter feed "Thank you for being the Lois Lane so many of us grew up with. RIP, Margot Kidder".
|1968||The Best Damn Fiddler from Calabogie to Kaladar||Rosie Prometer|
|1969||Gaily, Gaily||Adeline||Alternate title: Chicago, Chicago|
|1970||Quackser Fortune Has a Cousin in the Bronx||Zazel|
|1973||Sisters||Danielle Breton / Dominique Blanchion||Alternate title: Blood Sisters|
|1974||A Quiet Day in Belfast||Brigit Slattery / Thelma Slattery||Canadian Film Award for Best Actress|
|1974||The Gravy Train||Margue||Alternate title: The Dion Brothers|
|1974||Black Christmas||Barbara 'Barb' Coard||Canadian Film Award for Best Actress|
|1975||The Great Waldo Pepper||Maude|
|1975||The Reincarnation of Peter Proud||Marcia Curtis|
|1975||92 in the Shade||Miranda|
|1978||Shoot the Sun Down||The Woman from England|
|1978||Superman||Lois Lane||Saturn Award for Best Actress|
|1979||The Amityville Horror||Kathy Lutz||Nominated - Saturn Award for Best Actress|
|1979||Mr. Mike's Mondo Video||Herself|
|1980||Willie & Phil||Jeannette Sutherland|
|1980||Superman II||Lois Lane||Nominated - Saturn Award for Best Actress|
|1981||Heartaches||Rita Harris||Genie Award for Best Actress|
|1982||Some Kind of Hero||Toni Donovan|
|1983||Superman III||Lois Lane|
|1986||GoBots: Battle of the Rock Lords||Solitaire||Voice|
|1986||Keeping Track||Mickey Tremaine|
|1987||Superman IV: The Quest for Peace||Lois Lane|
|1990||White Room||Madelaine X|
|1991||Delirious||Woman in Washroom||Uncredited|
|1992||Aaron Sent Me||Kaitlynn Prescott|
|1993||La Florida||Vivy Lamori|
|1994||WindRunner||Sally 'Mom' Cima|
|1994||Beanstalk||Doctor Kate 'Doc' Winston|
|1996||Henry & Verlin||Mabel|
|1996||Never Met Picasso||Genna Magnus|
|1997||The Planet of Junior Brown||Miss Peebs||Alternate title: Junior's Groove|
|1997||Shadow Zone: My Teacher Ate My Homework||Sol|
|1997||Silent Cradle||Cindy Wilson|
|1999||The Hi-Line||Laura Johnson|
|1999||The Clown at Midnight||Ellen Gibby|
|1999||The Annihilation of Fish||Mrs. Muldroone|
|1999||Nightmare Man||Lillian Hannibal|
|2000||Tribulation||Eileen Canboro||Alternate title: Apocalypse III: Tribulation|
|2002||Crime and Punishment||Katerina Marmelodov|
|2004||Chicks with Sticks||Edith Taymore|
|2004||Death 4 Told||Madam Badeau||Scream Awards for Best Actress, (segment "The Psychic")|
|2006||Superman II: The Richard Donner Cut||Lois Lane||Re-edited director's cut of Superman II (1980)|
|2008||Universal Signs||Rose Callahan|
|2008||Love at First Kill||Beth|
|2008||On the Other Hand, Death||Dorothy|
|2008||A Single Woman||Storyteller|
|2009||Something Evil Comes||Claudia Brecher|
|2009||Halloween II||Barbara Collier|
|2011||Redemption: For Robbing the Dead||Marlys Baptiste|
|2011||Three of a Kind||Claire|
|2012||HENRi||Dr. Calvin||Short film|
|2013||Matt's Chance||Mother Mable|
|2013||Real Gangsters||Stella Kelly|
|2014||The Dependables||Jean Dempsey||Alternate title: Pride of Lions|
|2014||The Big Fat Stone||Madge|
|2015||No Deposit||Margie Ryan|
|2016||The Red Maple Leaf||Amanda Walker|
|1969||Adventures in Rainbow Country||Dr. Janet Rhodes / Sportscar Driver||2 episodes|
|1969||Corwin||Denny||Episodes "Does Anybody Here Know Denny?, Pts. 1 & 2"|
|1970||The Mod Squad||Claire Allen||1 episode|
|1971||Suddenly Single||Jackie||Television film|
|1972||The Bounty Man||Mae||Television film|
|1972||Banacek||Linda Carsini||1 episode|
|1972||Harry O||Helen||1 episode|
|1973||Barnaby Jones||Lori Wright||1 episode|
|1974||The Suicide Club||Television film|
|1974||Honky Tonk||Lucy Cotton||Television film|
|1975||Baretta||Terry Lake||1 episode|
|1975||Wide World Mystery||Gerry||1 episode|
|1976||Switch||Andrea Morris||1 episode|
|1979||Saturday Night Live||Herself (guest host)||1 episode: "Margot Kidder/The Chieftains"|
|1982||Bus Stop||Cherie||Television film|
|1983||Pygmalion||Eliza Doolittle||Television film|
|1984||Louisiana||Virginia Tregan||Television film|
|1984||The Glitter Dome||Willie||Television film|
|1985||The Hitchhiker||Jane Reynolds||1 episode|
|1985||Picking Up the Pieces||Lynette Harding||Television film|
|1986||The Wonderful Wizard of Oz||Narrator||(one year series)|
|1986||Vanishing Act||Chris Kenyon||Television film|
|1987||Shell Game||Dinah / Jennie Jerome||5 episodes|
|1987||Tales from the Crypt||Cynthia||1 episode|
|1988||Body of Evidence||Carol Dwyer||Television film|
|1992||To Catch a Killer||Rachel Grayson||Television film|
|1992-1993||Street Legal||Charlotte Percy||2 episodes|
|1993||Murder, She Wrote||Dr. Ellen Holden||1 episode|
|1993-1995||Captain Planet and the Planeteers||Gaia (voice)||5 episodes|
|1994||One Woman's Courage||Stella Jenson||Television film|
|1995||Burke's Law||Joy Adams||1 episode|
|1996-1997||Boston Common||Cookie de Varen||5 episodes|
|1996||Phantom 2040||Rebecca Madison||1 episode|
|1997||The Hunger||Mrs. Sloan||1 episode|
|1997||Aaahh!!! Real Monsters||Mistress Helga (voice)||2 episodes|
|1997||The Teddy Bears' Scare||Mrs. Jones (voice)||Television film|
|1998||Touched by an Angel||Rita||1 episode|
|1999||La Femme Nikita||Roberta Wirth||1 episode; Nominated - OFTA Television Award for Best Guest Actress in a Cable Series|
|2000||Someone Is Watching||Sally Beckert||Television film|
|2000||The Outer Limits||Serena||1 episode - Revival|
|2001||Law & Order: Special Victims Unit||Grace Mayberry||1 episode|
|2001||Mentors||Queen Elizabeth I||1 episode|
|2001||Earth: Final Conflict||Dr. Josephine Mataros||1 episode|
|2004||Smallville||Bridgette Crosby||2 episodes|
|2004||I'll Be Seeing You||Frances Grolier||Television film|
|2005||Robson Arms||Elaine Wainwright||1 season|
|2005||The Last Sign||Endora||2 episodes|
|2006||The L Word||Sandy Ziskin||1 episode|
|2007||Brothers & Sisters||Emily Craft||2 episodes|
|2014||R.L. Stine's The Haunting Hour||Mrs. Worthington||1 episode; Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Performer in Children's Programming|