Margot Kidder Dies At 69

By Victoria Kim 05/15/18

The iconic actress was a passionate advocate who lived with bipolar disorder and challenged the stigma surrounding mental health disorders. 

Margot Kidder
Photo via YouTube

Actress Margot Kidder has passed away at the age of 69.

“The actress and activist passed away on Sun., May 13, 2018 at her home” in Livingston, Montana, according to the funeral home. The cause of her death has yet to be determined.

Kidder was a celebrated actress who became a household name as Lois Lane in the original Superman movies, opposite Christopher Reeve.

Aside from her long career in film and television, Kidder, who lived with bipolar disorder, was a mental health advocate.

“The reality of my life has been grand and wonderful, punctuated by these odd blips and burps of madness,” she said in 1996. She was on the cover of People magazine, recounting her nervous breakdown from the previous spring—“the most public freak-out in history” as she called it.

Kidder was first diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 1988, a decade after her debut as Lois Lane in the original Superman. But at the time, she could not accept the diagnosis. “It’s very hard to convince a manic person that there is anything wrong with them,” she said to People. “You have no desire to sleep. You are full of ideas.”

Her nervous breakdown was triggered by a computer virus that wiped out a memoir she was working on—years’ worth of work was gone. She traveled to Los Angeles to see a computer specialist, who said there was no way to retrieve the memoir.

She “went from really distressed to absolute delusion,” convinced that her first husband, novelist Thomas McGuane and the CIA were “trying to kill” her because of the potential that her memoir had to change the world.

From that point, Kidder was on the run, wandering LA, sleeping “in yards and on porches in a state of fear” and seeking shelter with the homeless. The high-profile actress was missing for four days before she was found in a backyard in Glendale.

She was released from UCLA Medical Center a day later, after a judge ruled that she was no danger to herself or others.

Kidder recovered from the incident on an island near Vancouver. Her brother introduced her to Kay Redfield Jamison, a clinical psychologist and author living with bipolar disorder.

This helped Kidder see her condition in a new light. “Finally, I was able to accept the diagnosis,” she said.

Kidder later joined a 12-step program after a car accident left her bankrupt from medical bills and in pain, which she treated with pills and alcohol. “If I felt myself starting to go manic, I’d get drunk,” she said. “Better drunk than crazy.”

As for her bipolar diagnosis, Kidder had expressed gratitude that she was able to access a slew of different treatments that succeeded in managing her condition.

“I feel very lucky that I got the kind of help that I did,” she said. “And it was sheer luck, it certainly wasn’t any brilliance of mine.

“I got people who didn’t insist I got drugged to the gills with a lot of mind-numbing things that basically turn you into a vegetable. [They] taught me how to get better naturally. So I feel really, really, really blessed by that.”

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Victoria is interested in anything that has to do with how mind-altering substances impact society. Find Victoria on LinkedIn or Tumblr