After falling out of the Hollywood spotlight relatively early in her career, Margot Kidder continued to lead a happy, productive life, appearing in a number of small films, advocating for mental health awareness, fighting for political causes and enjoying small town living in Montana.
The actress, who died on Sunday at her home in Livingston, Montana, at the age of 69, “didn’t give a s— about getting old,” her friend Frank D’Angelo, who directed her in her final film, told PEOPLE.
“I think she had enough of Hollywood because in Hollywood, her motto was, when you turn 30 and if you don’t do stuff with producers — and I’m being cordial here — you’re not going to be in any movies,” D’Angelo added.
Kidder rose to fame in 1978 for her role as Lois Lane in Superman opposite Christopher Reeve. She and Reeve would go on to appear in three more Superman movies together, with the final film premiering in 1987, but both had difficulty finding quality work after finishing the franchise.
Her struggle with bipolar disorder, which became highly publicized after a 1996 manic episode left her homeless for a time, also likely contributed to her career’s decline. After receiving treatment, Kidder went on to become a lifelong advocate for mental health awareness. “She was completely open,” D’Angelo said of her struggles with mental health. “She was homeless and she didn’t regret that. To her that was an experience.”
Kidder’s openness to new experiences could also cause problems later her in life, according to Cara Wilder, actor and co-founder of Bozeman Actors Theatre. “She always took in people in her house in Livingston because she had a big house and plenty of room but she got into trouble because people took advantage of her,” she explained.
Wilder continued, “She didn’t live her life terribly carefully I don’t think. She needed to make money in these last few years so she would go to conventions where they paid her a lot of cash to sign things.
After recovering from her breakdown in 1996, Kidder began taking on a number of smaller roles in various off-beat projects. “I’m not choosy at all! I’ll do practically anything,” she told The Advocate in 2008. “I’m the biggest whore on the block. I live in a little town in Montana, and you have to drag me out of here to get to L.A., so I’m not readily available. But unless …
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