Margot Kidder, Lois Lane to Christopher Reeve’s Man of Steel in the most beloved film version of “Superman,” has died. She was just 69 and had been in poor health for years.
Stories of paranoia, bipolar disorder and mental illness dominated her later years. She kept working, popping up in a “Halloween” sequel here, an indie project there, right up to the end. She was on the cusp of a breakdown when her old “Superman” director gave her a life-saving bit part in “Maverick” in the early ’90s.
The Canadian-born Kidder’s heydays were the ’70s, when she was “Superman/Amityville Horror” famous and part of that whole Montana mafia of actors, singers (Jimmy Buffett) and writers, like Thomas McGuane, to whom she was briefly married.
In the “Superman” movies, she was the very embodiment of ’70s liberated woman, assertive, spunky, competitive and very much an adult. You don’t see Lois Lanes like that, and you don’t see a lot of supporting roles for women that have that much going on. Yeah, she needed rescuing. Or so Superman always thought.
She played painter Georgia O’Keeffe opposite Stacy Keach’s photographer Alfred Stieglitz in a stage drama, “Flowers and Photos,” about their love affair in a 1990s play that was launched in Winston-Salem, N.C., where I then worked.
I recall her being charming, a good sport, and pretty good in the play as well. She held her own with Keach, widely regarded as one of the great stage actors of his generation and an under-rated character actor par excellence even today.
My dog kept interrupting a phone interview we had before meeting in person. Her dog barked back, and she said “Goodness, maybe we should just turn over the phone to them.”
A lifelong actress and activist (she became a U.S. citizen about a dozen years ago), she died in Livingston, Montana where she’d long made her home. She died in an assisted living home, in her sleep, according to her management.