Margot Kidder, the actress perhaps best known for her role as Lois Lane opposite Christopher Reeve in the “Superman” movies, died on Sunday. The Canadian star was 69 years old.
Kidder took on the character of Lois Lane before superhero movies had much studio clout or box office draw. That changed when the first “Superman” movie hit theaters in 1978, making its stars, Reeve and Kidder, instant pop culture icons. Their success drove studios to try their luck (with varying success) with other comic book adaptations.
The film also gave audiences a stronger female foil to the unflappable Clark Kent. The headstrong Lois Lane appeared just as American women were entering the workforce in unprecedented numbers. She was a dogged reporter closer to Rosalind Russell’s quick-witted pro in “His Girl Friday” than the helpless object of Superman’s affections. Following leads for the Daily Planet could land her in trouble, but that never daunted Lane. Kidder’s character was witty, sharp and cynical in a way that’s wholly absent from Lane’s current form played by Amy Adams.
Kidder’s roughness complemented Reeve’s gentle yet strong performance. They’re one of the best on-screen couples in the genre if only for their chemistry alone. “When you’re strapped to someone hanging from the ceiling for months and months, you get pretty darned close,” she told CBS back in 2004 after Reeve’s death. The two remained friends for years after the movie.
A nervous breakdown slowed Kidder’s career in the late ’90s. Eventually, she told People that she had been battling manic depression. She started taking breaks away from the spotlight, eventually relocating to Livingston, Mont., where she died on Sunday. She became an activist for mental health causes. Later in life, Kidder made her way back to television with parts in shows like “The L Word,” “Smallville” and “Brothers & Sisters.”