She wasn’t the first actress to play the part, nor was she the last. But for an entire generation of fans, Margot Kidder was Lois Lane and always will be. Kidder died in her Montana home on Sunday from as yet undisclosed causes. She was 69.
Born Margaret Ruth Kidder in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories, Canada, she first fell in love with acting after seeing a Broadway production of Bye Bye Birdie when she was 12. She got her start making short Canadian films before making her American debut in 1969’s Gaily Gaily.
She would eventually move to the United States, landing a role in the 1970 Gen Wilder vehicle Quackser Fortune Has a Cousin in the Bronx and garnered guest roles in TV series such as Banacek and The Mod Squad. Her film career grew, with bigger parts in notable movies such as Brian DePalma’s Sisters, the cult-horror film Black Christmas and The Great Waldo Pepper.
Kidder was chosen for the role of Lois Lane in 1978’s Superman over such actresses as Anne Archer, Leslie Anne Warren and Stockard Channing. All were great actresses, but it’s hard to think of any of them playing the role as well as Kidder did. Kidder brought a modern take to the character.
Her Lois wasn’t a docile victim-in-waiting, nor was she a scheming minx trying to trick Superman into either revealing his identity or into marriage. Instead, she made Lois as strong-willed, smart, sarcastic professional woman who could hold her own with anyone. Her performance would go on to inform future interpretations of the character inside the comic books and out.
Kidder played Lois in all four of the Superman films, although her part was severely reduced after she spoke out in protest over the Salkind’s firing of Richard Donner on Superman II (Donner repaid her loyalty with a small role in his 1994 film, Maverick). She still was able to parlay her new superstardom into bigger roles in films such as The Amityville Horror and Some Kind of Hero.
After her run of Superman films, Kidder’s career took a downturn. Her film roles slid into the B-movie or special cameo categories. She gained voice work in the animation industry and made guest appearances on TV shows. In 1996, Kidder, who was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder, suffered manic episode which caused her to go missing for several days.
Recently, she has been scheduled on the convention circuit, making appearances with other cast members in salute of Superman film’s 40 anniversary. She was scheduled to appear at New York’s Eternal Con next month.