Margot Kidder, best known to legions of cinema-goers as Lois Lane in Christopher Reeve-starring Superman movies, died in her sleep on Sunday at her home in Montana, according to MSN. She was 69. At the time of this posting, the cause of death was not publicly disclosed.
Kidder remains an icon of the comic book/sci-fi genre with her sassy, bold, and inspiring portrayal of reporter Lois Lane, a role which she made her complete own and arguably the template for all that followed. Eschewing the damsel in distress styles that permeated performances of Lane prior in live-action adaptations and the popular 1950s TV series, the Canadian-born Kidder’s spin on the character came right on the heels of the women’s rights movement of the 1970s. There was definitely a little bit of alpha female in there, although they were traits that sometimes got her in trouble, or even almost on the brink of death (the end of the first Superman film, the beginning of the second one, etc.).
Although she remained firmly typecast as Lois Lane in the memories of fans and visual iconography, Kidder, like her late Superman co-star, the endless charming Christopher Reeve, was much more than a one-trick pony. Even though most of her non-Superman roles were at best critically acclaimed and mostly under the radar, she did have some extremely bright moments: witness her early terrifying turn in Brian De Palma’s horror classic Sisters and especially as James Brolin’s trapped-in-the-situation-and-can’t-get-out wife in the now legendary original 1979 The Amityville Horror film.
In fact, a quick look at her professional resume found her taking all kinds of roles and styles as feathers in her acting caps: comedy with Richard Pryor in Some Kind of Hero, going back to the Superman world on the small screen on Smallville, and guest-starring roles on diverse projects as Brothers and Sisters, The L Word, and even netting an Emmy Award late in her career in 2015 for her performance in the TV series The Haunting Hour.
While much had been made of her mental illnesses, which manifested eye-opening albeit yet tabloid-styled stories about her erratic behavior and ultimately took away from her craft and art, fans still remained firm to what Margot Kidder gave to one of the biggest franchises in the world — the bright, girl next door with an edge kind of brassiness that only she could deliver with Lois Lane. It’s an interesting contrast when you see what Amy Adams did with the role when she played Lois Lane in the recent ill-fated Zack Snyder reboot films and how Kidder crystallized it. It’s also telling how much Kidder was missed in the third installment of the Christopher Reeve Superman films, and one realized how much her presence in them made and shaped the beloved and memorable feel they all hold today, (even the wrongheaded and arguably downright awful Superman IV: The Quest for Peace). If anything, Margot Kidder was like the Carrie Fisher of the Superman films, and it’s a downright tragic shame that both of them passed way before they should have.
One of the most memorable lines in the first Superman film (along with being one of the most memorable cinema lines of all time) is when Kidder’s Lois Lane first gets an eyeful of Superman, when he quickly saves her as she is plummeting to her death after falling from the top of the Daily Planet building after being barely being held by a helicopter seat belt after a horrific crash. After catching her mid-fall, Reeve’s Superman intones to her, “Don’t worry, ma’mm, I’ve got you.” In the perfect inimitable fashion that she would become associated with, Lane replies, “You got me, who’s got you?” Well, as fans of Margot Kidder, we all had her, and we were lucky. The delight Margot Kidder gave us, as kids growing up watching Superman and now in the high profile resurrection as Superman celebrates its 40th anniversary near the end of 2018, will never be forgotten. Lois and Superman are together again now, for eternity, just the way we always wanted it.