Margot Kidder was born in Yellowknife, a mining town in Northern Canada that was so remote that it didn’t even have a movie theater. She didn’t see her first movie until she was 12, when she and her mother were visiting New York City. Kidder later said, “I saw Bye Bye Birdie, with people singing and dancing, and that was it. I knew I had to go far away.”
Kidder started her career in her native Canada, appearing in 1968’s The Best Damn Fiddler from Calabogie to Kaladar and going on to appear in films like Black Christmas and Quackser Fortune Has A Cousin In The Bronx. Even after Kidder found stardom in the United States, she continued to appear in Canadian films and won two Canadian Film Awards and one Genie Award for her performances.
In 1973, she played dual roles in Brian DePalma’s Sisters. As detailed in Peter Biskind’s Easy Riders, Raging Bulls, it was during this time that she and her Sisters co-star Jennifer Salt shared a Malibu beach house that became a gathering place for such up-and-coming Hollywood directors as DePalma, John Milius, Martin Scorsese, George Lucas, and Steven Spielberg. Briefly, she and Spielberg even dated.
For a generation of filmgoers, though, Margot Kidder will always be Lois Lane! In 1978, Kidder beat out over 100 other actresses for the role of Lois. (Among the others who tested: Anne Archer, Susan Blakely, Lesley Ann Warren, Deborah Raffin and Stockard Channing.) Superman was the first great comic book film. In the aftermath of both Watergate and Vietnam, Superman made audiences that a man could fly. As important as Christopher Reeve was to the success of Superman, Margot Kidder was just as important. In many ways, Kidder’s Lois was the audience surrogate. We saw Superman through her eyes. At the same time, Kidder gave such a lively performance that it was impossible not to join Superman in falling in love with Lois. When Superman spun the world backwards to bring her back to life, nobody questioned it because they would have all done the same thing.
Kidder was even better in Superman II but, unfortunately, she was also forever typecast as Lois. In her later years, she would be better known for her health struggles than her acting. After having a widely publicized manic episode in 1996, Kidder became just as well-known as an outspoken mental health activist as an actress. Though her acting career may have slowed down, Kidder never stopped working, appearing in movies and television shows up until her death.
Margot Kidder died yesterday in Montana, at the age of 69. To many, she’ll always be Lois but she was so much more as well. Rest in Peace, Margot Kidder.