Return to tiff.’s home page

Canadian Film Encyclopedia

Shopping Cart

Margot Kidder

Producer, Actor
(b. October 17, 1948 Yellowknife, Northwest Territories)

One of the most interesting leading ladies of the seventies, this irrepressible, husky-voiced actress of French-Canadian heritage has led a life that rivals any of her films in drama and intrigue. Having acted in more than one hundred television shows and forty feature films, Margot Kidder is best known for her role as the plucky Lois Lane opposite Christopher Reeve in Superman (1978) and for her life-long struggle with mental illness, which climaxed with a breakdown in 1996 that drew worldwide attention.

With her father, a mining engineer, constantly on the move, Kidder was born in Yellowknife but grew up in mining towns around the country and attended eleven schools in twelve years. She exhibited the first signs of mental illness at the age of fourteen when she suffered a severe depression and attempted suicide. Though she would not be properly diagnosed until her adult years, she has struggled with bipolar manic depression her whole life, suffering mood swings “that could knock a building over” and repeatedly displaying episodes of bizarre behaviour.

In an attempt to provide her with some much-needed stability, her parents sent her to a boarding school in Vancouver, where she found sanctuary in the theatre and became active in school plays. She acted in various capacities for the CBC in Vancouver and studied drama at the University of British Columbia but left after a year to try her luck at film. At seventeen, she landed her first part in the Canadian classic The Best Damn Fiddler from Calabogie to Kaladar (1968), then made her Hollywood debut in Norman Jewison’s Gaily, Gaily (1969).

She showed real personality opposite Gene Wilder in the wacky Quackser Fortune Has a Cousin in the Bronx (1970), but after becoming disillusioned with the Hollywood machine she left Los Angeles to study acting in New York City. Upon her return to L.A., she and close friend Jennifer Salt moved into a beach house in Malibu and regularly hosted a circle of young, struggling filmmakers that included Martin Scorsese, Brian De Palma, Steven Spielberg, Susan Sarandon and others. After toiling for several years on the television assembly line, she made audiences and critics sit up and take notice with her eerie interpretation of separated Siamese twins in De Palma’s breakthrough feature, Sisters (1973).

She followed this success with prominent, complex roles in Black Christmas (1974), The Great Waldo Pepper (1975), The Reincarnation of Peter Proud (1975) and 92 in the Shade (1975), directed by her first husband Thomas McGuane. After taking three years off to raise her daughter Maggie, Kidder returned in fine form in Richard Donner’s hugely successful Superman, which made her a star overnight. She enjoyed minor success with The Amityville Horror (1979), won a Best Lead Actress Genie for her standout performance in Don Shebib’s Heartaches (1980) and appeared in the three Superman sequels (1981, 1983, 1987) while also doing various work in television and theatre. However, her life off-screen was in shambles. She married and divorced three times in quick succession (her marriage to actor John Heard lasted six days), was involved in tumultuous relationships with comedian Richard Pryor and former Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, and battled drug and alcohol addiction in addition to her illness. In 1988, she was finally diagnosed with bipolar manic depression, but distrusted the doctor’s advice and refused treatment.

1990 proved to be an eventful year for Kidder. In addition to studying directing at the Canadian Film Centre (she had previously directed her first medium-length film in 1975 through the American Film Institute), the long-time political and ecological activist drew a great deal of ire for ridiculing the press and criticizing the media during the American intervention in Kuwait. She was then seriously injured in a near-fatal car accident that kept her in a wheelchair for two years, leaving her bankrupt and with a permanent back injury.

In April of 1996, Kidder suffered what she has described as “the biggest flip-out in history.” The loss of three years of work on her autobiography due to a computer virus triggered a paranoid breakdown. Kidder was missing for four days before she was found by police hiding in someone’s yard; she had hacked off all her hair and was in a severely distressed state. Relying on traditional therapies as well as acupuncture and meditation, she gradually pulled herself back together. She has since become an advocate for orthomolecular treatments for psychiatric conditions and for the rights of the mentally ill, going so far as to field unsolicited calls at her Montana home from troubled people seeking help for their condition. Still working regularly, she appeared in four direct-to-video films in 2004 alone and has a regular role on the CTV series “Robson Arms.”

Film and video work includes

Wojek series, 1968 (actor; TV, one episode)
Adventures in Rainbow Country series, 1969 (actor; TV, two episodes)
Corwin series, 1969 (actor; TV)
Gaily, Gaily, 1969 (actor)
McQueen series, 1969 (actor; TV)
The Mod Squad series, 1970 (actor; TV, one episode)
Quackser Fortune Has a Cousin in the Bronx, a.k.a. Quackser Fortune, 1970 (actor)
Nichols series, 1971 - 1972 (actor; TV)
Suddenly Single, 1971 (actor; TV)
Banacek series, 1972 (actor; TV, one episode)
The Bounty Man, 1972 (actor; TV)
Barnaby Jones series 1973 (actor; TV, one episode)
Harry O: Such Dust as Dreams are Made On, 1973 (actor)
Sisters, a.k.a. Blood Sisters, 1973 (actor)
The Gravy Train, a.k.a. The Dion Brothers, 1974 (actor)
Harry O series, 1974 (actor; TV, one episode)
Honky Tonk, 1974 (actor; TV)
A Quiet Day in Belfast, 1974 (actor; TV)
The Suicide Club, 1974 (actor; TV)
92 in the Shade, 1975 (actor)
Barreta series, 1975 (actor; TV, one episode)
The Great Waldo Pepper, 1975 (actor)
The Reincarnation of Peter Proud, 1975 (actor)
Switch series, 1976 (actor; TV, one episode)
Superman, a.k.a. Superman: The Movie, 1978 (actor)
The Amityville Horror, 1979 (actor)
Saturday Night Live series, 1979 (host; TV, one episode)
Superman II, 1980 (actor)
Willie and Phil, 1980 (actor)
Shoot the Sun Down, 1981 (actor)
La Donna giusta, a.k.a. Miss Right, 1982 (actor)
Some Kind of Hero, 1982 (actor)
Pygmalion, 1983 (actor; co-producer with Dan Redler; TV)
Superman III, 1983 (actor)
Trenchcoat, 1983 (actor)
The Glitter Dome, 1984 (actor; TV)
Louisiana, 1984 (actor; TV)
The Canadian Conspiracy, 1985 (appears as herself)
Keeping Track, 1985 (actor)
Little Treasure, 1985 (actor)
Picking Up the Pieces, 1985 (actor; TV)
Speaking Our Peace, 1985 (narrator)
GoBots: War of the Rock Lords, a.k.a. GoBots: Battle of the Rock Lords, 1986 (voice)
The Hitchhiker series, 1986 (actor; TV, one episode)
Vanishing Act, 1986 (actor)
The Emerald City of Oz, 1987 (voice)
The Marvelous Land of Oz, 1987 (voice)
Ozma of Oz, 1987 (voice)
Shell Game series, 1987 (actor; TV)
Superman IV: The Quest for Peace, 1987 (actor)
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, 1987 (voice)
Body of Evidence, 1988 (actor; TV)
Captain Planet and the Planeteers series, 1990 (voice; TV, six episodes)
Mob Story, 1989 (actor)
White Room, 1990 (actor)
Delirious, 1991 (actor, uncredited)
Aaron Sent Me, 1992 (actor)
Street Legal series, 1992 (actor; TV, one episode)
Tales from the Crypt, 1992 (actor; TV, one episode)
To Catch a Killer series, 1992 (actor; TV)
The New Adventures of Captain Planet series, 1993 - 1996 (voice; TV)
La Florida, 1993 (actor)
Murder She Wrote series, 1993 (actor; TV, one episode)
Street Legal series, 1993 (actor; TV, one episode)
Beanstalk, 1994 (actor)
Henry & Verlin, 1994 (actor)
Hollywood Women series, 1994 (appears as herself)
Maverick, 1994 (actor, uncredited)
One Woman's Courage, 1994 (actor; TV)
Phantom 2040 series, a.k.a. Phantom 2040: The Ghost Who Walks, 1994 (voice)
The Pornographer, a.k.a. Family Values, 1994 (actor)
Under a Killing Moon, 1994 (actor)
Bloodknot, 1995 (actor)
Windrunner, 1995 (actor)
Young Ivanhoe, 1995 (actor; TV)
Boston Common series, 1996 (actor; TV, two episodes)
Never Met Picasso, 1996 (actor)
Aaahh!!! Real Monsters series, 1997 (voice; TV, one episode)
Boston Common series, 1997 (actor; TV, four episodes)
The Hunger series, 1997 (actor; TV, one episode)
The Planet of Junior Brown, a.k.a. Junior's Groove, 1997 (actor)
Shadow Zone: The Teacher Ate My Homework, 1997 (actor)
Silent Cradle, 1997 (actor)
The Clown at Midnight, 1998 (actor)
Touched by an Angel series, 1998 (actor; TV, one episode)
Amazon series, a.k.a. Peter Benchley's Amazaon, 1999 (actor; TV)
The Annihilation of Fish, 1999 (actor)
Crime in Connecticut: The Story of Alex Kelly, 1999 (actor; TV)
La Femme Nikita series, 1999 (actor; TV, one episode)
Made in Canada series, 1999 (actor; TV, one episode)
The Hi-Line, 1999 (actor) I
ntimate Portrait: Margot Kidder, 1999 (appears as herself; TV)
Nightmare Man, 1999 (actor)
PSI Factor: Chronicles of the Paranormal series, 1999 (actor; TV, one episode)
Common Ground, 2000 (actor; TV)
The Outer Limits series, 2000 (actor; TV, one episode)
The Secret Adventures of Jules Verne series, 2000 (actor; TV, one episode)
Someone is Watching, 2000 (actor; TV)
Tribulation, 2000 (actor)
Earth: Final Conflict series, 2001 (actor; TV, one episode)
Law & Order: Special Victims Unit series, 2001 (actor; TV, one episode)
Mentors series, 2001 (actor; TV, one episode)
Angel Blade, 2002 (actor)
Crime and Punishment, 2002 (actor)
Society's Child, 2002 (actor; TV)
Easy Riders, Raging Bulls: How the Sex, Drugs and Rock 'N' Roll Generation Saved Hollywood, 2003 (appears as herself)
Chicks with Sticks, 2004 (actor)
Death 4 Told, 2004 (actor)
I'll Be Seeing You, 2004 (actor; TV)
The Last Sign, 2004 (actor)
Smallville series, 2004 (actor; TV, two episodes)
Cool Money, 2005 (actor; TV)
Robson Arms series, 2005 (actor; TV)