Obituary

Lois Lane actress struggled with bipolar disorder

Actress Margot Kidder (in a 2001 photo) starred in Superman with Christopher Reeve.
Actress Margot Kidder (in a 2001 photo) starred in Superman with Christopher Reeve.PHOTO: REUTERS

NEW YORK • The Superman movies made Margot Kidder a high-flier, but making a superhero movie then without state-of-the-art special effects was down-to-earth tedious.

"The first scene I do with him (Superman) when we fly off the balcony, we had to do something like 84 takes," she recalled in 2014.

On Sunday, Kidder, a raspy-voiced actress who played reporter Lois Lane in the Superman films but whose career was eclipsed by her struggle with bipolar disorder, died at her home in Livingston, Montana. She was 69.

Her manager confirmed the news but did not specify a cause.

For much of her early career, Kidder was a self-described "scream queen". Her suggestion of cunning and sensuality elevated Brian de Palma's thriller Sisters (1972) and sorority-house slasher film Black Christmas (1974).

To the wider public, she was still largely unknown when director Richard Donner cast her and an obscure stage actor, Christopher Reeve, in his 1978 big-budget reboot of Superman.

Kidder reprised Lane in three sequels over the next decade. She also returned to her fright-film roots with The Amityville Horror (1979), a major hit. But she was unable to sustain consistent quality in her subsequent work.

She burned through three marriages, and her drinking and mood swings left her with few supporters.

In 1996, she endured what she later jokingly called the "biggest nervous breakdown in history". Her collapse, she said, was triggered by a virus on her laptop that erased years of work on a memoir. She became convinced that her first husband, author Thomas McGuane, was trying to kill her with the help of the CIA.

She slashed her hair and removed several teeth in a bid to go unrecognised. Over three days, she wandered the streets and narrowly escaped being raped. She was found dishevelled in the backyard of a home in Glendale, California.

Kidder gradually tried to revive her career via small-budget films, TV cameos and stage appearances.

"Acting's fun but life's more important," she once told the Guardian. "I guess I came to terms with my demons. Horrifying as it was to crack up in the public eye, it made me look at myself and fix it.

"People were exploitative; that's human nature." But "my grandson sees me as Lois on TV every Christmas", she noted, "and that scores me points".

WASHINGTON POST

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 16, 2018, with the headline 'Lois Lane actress struggled with bipolar disorder'. Print Edition | Subscribe