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Margot Kidder Bio
Margot Kidder (born October 17, 1948 – May 13, 2018 as Margaret Ruth 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 appeared playing twins in Brian De Palma’s cult thriller Sisters (1973); in the slasher film Black Christmas (1974); and 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. Later, in 1996, she had a highly publicized manic episode and nervous breakdown. By the 2000s, however, she had 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. In later years, Kidder became an outspoken political, environmental, and anti-war activist. She died on May 13, 2018, at her home in Livingston, Montana
1968–1974: Early work
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.
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 cult classic 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 in 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).
1975–1979: Superman, mainstream recognition
In 1975, Kidder was cast in a lead role in The Great Waldo Pepper 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 also appeared in Playboy March 1975 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 doing a 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 1979 summer release ofThe Amityville Horror further cemented her status as one of Hollywood’s leading ladies. Though it received mixed reviews from critics,The Amityville Horror was a major commercial success, grossing over $86 million in the United States. 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 the film].” 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.
1980–1999: Later roles
Kidder continued to work in film throughout the 1980s, appearing in Paul Mazursky’s Willie & Phil and Some Kind of Hero. Her performance in 1981’s Heartaches generated critical acclaim and Oscar buzz. As court stenographer-cum-private eye Mickey Raymond, the PG rating that 1983’s Trenchcoat received led Disney to launch Touchstone Pictures. She appeared opposite James Garner in the controversial 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, Kidder’s career began to decline, which was attributed to her widely publicized nervous breakdown in 1996.
2000–2018: Independent films, television
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, 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, saying: “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.
Margot Kidder was a Canadian-American actress best known for her role as Lois Lane in the Superman film, Sisters, Black Christmas, The Amityville Horror, Smallville, Brothers & Sisters, The L Word and 2002 The Vagina Monologues.