Remembering 'Superman' actress Margot Kidder

Margot Kidder, who found fame as Lois Lane in the 1978 film "Superman," died at her home in Montana, her manager confirmed to CNN. CNN's Jeanne Moos explores Kidder's impact on the "Superman" series.

Posted: May 15, 2018 10:13 PM
Updated: May 15, 2018 10:16 PM

Margot Kidder, who died Sunday at age 69, was more than just the actor who played Lois Lane in a series of "Superman" films in the 1970s and '80s. She was a passionate advocate for the environment and for peace, a woman whose own struggle with mental illness chipped away at deep stigma, and a star whose most famous role tells us much about feminist progress.

Kidder's Lois Lane was a character who bridged the notoriously male-focused world of comics with a new feminist America. Kidder didn't write her part and wasn't responsible for the character's feminist shortcomings, but her role nonetheless illustrated the tension at play in late 20th-century America. Lois Lane was both a competent, ambitious journalist and a slightly flighty damsel in distress. She sniffed out stories and lobbed flinty challenges to Clark Kent; she also was in seeming constant need of Superman's saving.

It can be tempting, when an actor dies, to reframe her most famous roles as fitting into some modern ideal. Lois Lane was not a flawless feminist icon. But neither was Kidder's Lane a simple comic book babe. Instead, she reflected back the peculiarities and contrasts of the time.

Kidder, too, was a woman who shifted with the decades, truly seeming to come into her own -- as many women do -- in middle age. There was her well-publicized psychiatric breakdown in the 1990s, which left so many Americans wondering how Lois Lane could go from international stardom to roaming, confused, through Los Angeles backyards.

Instead of hiding in shame, Kidder answered the question: untreated bipolar disorder, and a mind and a body not well attended to. She reportedly disliked the term "mental illness" but nonetheless talked openly about her own struggles and what worked for her to overcome them. And here, too, there were contradictions.

Her openness was crucial in breaking down the stigma around mental health. But she also bristled at pharmacological interventions, dealing with her own challenges through natural treatments. That was certainly her right, but her comments sometimes implied that life-saving drugs -- antidepressants, antipsychotics -- were perhaps unnecessary.

She put forward a seemingly simple solution to a complicated set of illnesses. And yet she had a few important parts right: that stigma is bad for mental health; that any health challenge, including a psychological one, demands a response that looks at whole-body health and doesn't separate the brain from the rest of the human.

Decades after she played Lois Lane, Kidder, who was born in Canada but became a naturalized US citizen, became her own superhero, protesting fracking and war, and even getting arrested. She continued to act, but her activism took up much of her leisure time.

No longer Superman's sidekick, she knew what she wanted to do with her own power: make the world a more peaceful, kind, livable place -- her own contribution to truth, justice and the adopted American way.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 112027

Reported Deaths: 3512
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion20746758
Lake10264319
Elkhart6387109
St. Joseph6109100
Allen5998200
Hamilton4695109
Vanderburgh338330
Hendricks2661122
Monroe242236
Johnson2258122
Tippecanoe223313
Clark213656
Porter207045
Cass19329
Delaware188261
Vigo176922
Madison158575
LaPorte137237
Floyd130961
Howard127763
Kosciusko119817
Warrick117035
Bartholomew115157
Marshall98824
Dubois95118
Boone94546
Hancock90742
Grant88833
Noble88632
Henry76924
Wayne74214
Jackson7409
Morgan70138
Shelby66529
Daviess64327
LaGrange63011
Dearborn62828
Clinton59112
Harrison56124
Putnam5349
Montgomery50521
Lawrence50428
Knox4919
White48014
Gibson4794
Decatur45339
DeKalb45111
Miami4253
Fayette41813
Greene41835
Jasper3842
Steuben3697
Scott35410
Sullivan33012
Jennings31012
Posey3020
Franklin29925
Clay2935
Orange28424
Ripley2798
Carroll27013
Wabash2628
Washington2591
Whitley2546
Starke2537
Wells2472
Adams2443
Jefferson2433
Fulton2342
Huntington2233
Spencer2214
Tipton21722
Perry20813
Randolph2077
Jay1720
Newton17011
Owen1651
Martin1640
Rush1514
Pike1411
Vermillion1260
Fountain1162
Pulaski1141
Blackford1133
Crawford1030
Brown1023
Parke941
Benton880
Union770
Ohio767
Switzerland690
Warren401
Unassigned0225

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 145165

Reported Deaths: 4623
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Franklin26134603
Cuyahoga17155644
Hamilton12786309
Montgomery7540152
Lucas7149357
Butler569399
Summit5149249
Marion306847
Mahoning3003279
Warren292748
Stark2757168
Pickaway263444
Lorain227786
Delaware215620
Fairfield203050
Columbiana192080
Licking186862
Trumbull1853131
Clark174238
Wood172572
Clermont164020
Lake158149
Medina143239
Allen137868
Greene136728
Miami135949
Portage108666
Mercer106517
Tuscarawas91720
Wayne90566
Erie90144
Ross85622
Richland80419
Madison78012
Darke76639
Belmont71027
Geauga70547
Hancock6649
Ashtabula65148
Athens6162
Lawrence60418
Shelby5879
Auglaize5689
Sandusky55520
Putnam54823
Huron5307
Union4962
Ottawa46630
Scioto4666
Seneca44814
Preble42013
Muskingum3792
Holmes3757
Jefferson3244
Henry29912
Logan2973
Champaign2943
Perry2889
Defiance28310
Clinton28113
Knox27915
Brown2772
Hardin25013
Morrow2502
Washington25023
Fulton2371
Jackson2334
Coshocton23011
Fayette2266
Ashland2224
Crawford2226
Highland2203
Wyandot20112
Williams1993
Gallia18412
Meigs17210
Hocking1619
Pike1610
Guernsey1567
Carroll1517
Adams1214
Van Wert1143
Monroe10818
Paulding1030
Harrison622
Morgan470
Vinton453
Noble270
Unassigned00
Fort Wayne
Clear
54° wxIcon
Hi: 80° Lo: 53°
Feels Like: 54°
Angola
50° wxIcon
Hi: 80° Lo: 53°
Feels Like: 50°
Huntington
Clear
54° wxIcon
Hi: 79° Lo: 53°
Feels Like: 54°
Decatur
Clear
50° wxIcon
Hi: 79° Lo: 54°
Feels Like: 50°
Van Wert
Clear
50° wxIcon
Hi: 79° Lo: 53°
Feels Like: 50°
Warmer Wednesday
WFFT Radar
WFFT Temperatures
WFFT National

Community Events