Margot Kidder, who is probably best known for portraying Lois Lane opposite Christopher Reeve in the 1970s and ’80s Superman movies and starred in many other films including The Amityville Horror while struggling with mental illness, has died. She was 69. The Franzen-Davis Funeral Home in Livingston, MT, said she died Sunday but did not reveal a cause of death.
Kidder appeared with many of Hollywood’s leading men during her 50-year career, including Robert Redford and James Garner, it was her role as the plucky Daily Planet reporter with a penchant for finding trouble in Superman (1978), Superman II (1980), Superman III (1983) and Superman IV (1987) that shot her to fame.
Born on October 17, 1948, in Yellowknife, Canada, Kidder started her career in TV in the late 1960s, guesting on such shows as McQueen and The Mod Squad. She starred opposite Gene Wilder in the 1970 film Quackser Fortune Has a Cousin in the Bronx before landing a regualar role on the 1971-72 NBC drama Nichols starring Jim Garner. She continued to work mostly in TV until appearing in four films in 1974, including The Great Waldo Pepper.
Her other films of that era included The Reincarnation of Peter Proud, The Gravy Train with Stacy Keach and opposite Peter Fonda in 92 in the Shade. After the runaway success of the first Superman movie — “You’ll believe a man can fly” was the tagline 40 years ago — Kidder starred in Shoot the Sun Down (1978) with Christopher Walken before playing Kathy Lutz alongside James Brolin and Rod Steiger in the 1979 classic creepshow The Amityville Horror.
After the first Superman sequel, Kidder toplined the 1981 road-trip movie Heartaches and co-starred with Richard Pryor in Some Kind of Hero the following year. Following that, she and the legendary comic re-teamed in Superman III, in which Pryor played Gus Gorman who learned how to create Kryponite.
Kidder continued to make films and do TV steadily, including starring in the short-lived 1987 CBS dramedy Shell Game. But a serious car crash in 1990 left her in a wheelchair and she couldn’t work for two years, forcing her into bankruptcy.. She found some success as a voice-over artist for the series Captain Planet and the Planeteers and Phantom 2040.
In 1996, Kidder was involved in a bizarre off-screen incident that made internationals headlines. She had been working on an autobiography when a virus infected her computer and caused her to lose three years worth of writing. After a data-retrieval company failed to restore her lost work, Kidder became manic depressive, convinced that the federal government and her then-husband/novelist Thomas McGuane were plotting to kill her.
In mid-April 1996, her family in Montana reported her missing. Kidder ended up in downtown L.A., dirty and without her purse — according to reports, she had thrown it away because she thought it held a bomb — and met a homeless man who vowed to look after her. Reports say she survived a rape attempt the next day, in which another homeless man kicked her in the stomach and also knocked caps off of her front teeth. She eventually was found by Glendale police and taken to UCLA Medical Center.
The incident made her lifelong struggle with mental illness a public affair, but she continued to work as an actress, including a six-episode role on Boston Common in 1996-97. Her most recent role was in 2017 with the indie The Neighborhood.
Funeral service information is pending.