Monday, May 14, 2018

I Remember Margot Kidder

The last time I sat down to interview Margot Kidder it was on the Toronto set of  the TV series Amazon in 2000.
We'd met up before all over the place but after a tumultuous private life she said she was glad to get back to Canada and just settle down.
"Maybe I should never have left my true north strong and free," she joked.
"But then you'd never have become such a big star!" I interjected.
"Well, stardom for me was never cracked out to be that much anyway," she laughed nervously. "Because I was far, far away and now I'm back home and it means everything to me."
And now Margot Kidder is dead --she passed away in her sleep at her Montana home at the relatively young age of 69.
"I've done a lot," she told me that day. "And some of it I regret and some of it makes me pretty proud."
It seems rather ghoulish but she fearlessly forecast the headline in her New York Times obituary would read "Superman's Girl Friend Is Dead."
"Or something like that."
I told her I definitely remembered her first acting gig --it was on the CBC dramatic hit Wojeck and it was 1968 and young Margot had just turned 20.
"The very next year I co-starred on two more CBC_TV series Corwin and McQueen and then  I was on Adventures In Rainbow Country in 1970  and only then did I hit Hollywood. There just wasn't enough work here to keep a young actress going. And I wasn't the only one who left. The wonderful blonde actress Sharon Acker also left around that time."
At first Margot did the standard guest starring on such TV series as Mod Squad, The Manipulators,, "And then I had my first lead on the Jim Garner western series Nichols and he was wonderful and I learned so much from him because he was a minimalist."
Although Nichols only lasted the 1971-72 series and then Kidder found herself suddenly hot.
"I lost all momentum because I couldn't get out of TV shows. I did them all: Baretta, Barnaby Jones, Switch."
And I interrupted: "But I interviewed you in Toronto again on Black Christmas in 1974 --Olivia Hussey and Keir Dullea and Art Hindle were all on set that day and it was a big hit."
"It actually got me in to audition for Superman and I adored Chris Reeve from the first moment I saw him. And there was Superman II which was an even bigger hit and in 1983 there was Superman III. In 1987 there was Superman IV which I don't think we should have done but audiences disagreed.
Then I had to ask the big question: did she take too many drugs?
"We all did," she answered softly. "We all did."
There was one day on the set of the western Little Teasure (1985) when I was so out of control that Burt Lancaster socked me in the jaw."
She was beginning to recognize she was bipolar.
"Had been like that since a kid. I had ups and downs and finally I really crashed."
In 1996 she started writing her autobiography and "it all spilled out."
She began fantasizing  her first husband was going to kill her so she faked her death and was found wandering in the bushes by a neighbor.
"Recognizing what I was began the healing process. I had to accept full responsibility for everything."
On Amazon she had an insignificant part but she played it very well especially when the show's bug wrangler said she had to pretend to be asleep on the jungle floor as a line of tarantulas walked over her bared stomach.
"I'll continue acting," she vowed and she did but often in tiny parts. I liked her on the Vancouver made series Robson Arms (2005) and I met with her again on the set of Chicks With Sticks (2004) but by 2014 she was down to one appearance a year.
When she passed the TV networks were full of stories about Lois Lane but it's sad to think  both Reeve and Kidder are now gone as is the World Trade Center.

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