Written by: Jennifer Kathleen Gibbons
All superheroes need a love interest.
It must be in the Superheroes Handbook.
Batman had an flirtation with Catwoman, Spider-Man had Mary Jane, Iron Man had Pepper Potts, and Wonder Woman had Steve Austin.
And then there was Lois Lane.
Lois Lane worked for The Daily Planet in Metropolis, USA. Lois was hard-working, tough, and always looking for the next story.
Okay, there was that cute new guy Clark Kent she was kinda sorta interested in…but it was Superman who made her heart sing.
Plus he could fly!
Lois was in the comics back in the ’40s, then was played by Noel Neil in the 1950’s TV series (interesting fact: Neil was cast as Lois’ mom in the 1978 movie version). In 1977, a new movie of Superman was being cast. For the title role, a soap star named Christopher Reeve to the part.
Now, when it came to casting Lois Lane, they knew she couldn’t be some namby-pamby woman. She had to be strong. Defiant. And beautiful.
Enter Margot Kidder.
The Canadian-born Kidder was already getting attention for the movie Sisters, where she played a conjoined twin. She auditioned for Richard Donner and she won the part. Watching the movie it became very clear she wasn’t going to expect Superman to save her any chance he got. Unless she was falling out of a helicopter and he happened to fly by, catch her, then carry her to safety, she wasn’t going to stop him.
…and if he wanted to fly by her apartment, have a drink, flirt a little, maybe kiss, so be it!
It was very clear Kidder was Superman’s equal. Okay, she couldn’t fly or lift tall buildings, but by God, she could give him a piece of her mind when she wanted to!
Kidder and Reeve played off each other perfectly in the first two Superman movies, with the second one having Lois and Clark becoming romantically involved on a pink colored fur rug.
Kidder’s role in Superman III was cut due to disagreements with the producers, but she had steady work throughout the ’80s in plays and TV movies. However, a car accident in 1990 curtailed her career. Unable to work, it led to financial problems.
In the spring of 1996, Kidder was reported missing by her daughter Maggie. In what Kidder called “my big, public flipout” she was wandering around Los Angeles, convinced people were out to get her. If it wasn’t for a homeless man named Charlie who took her to a tent city, worse things could’ve happened to her. By the time she was found, she had scratches and bruises all over her body and she had cut off her own hair.
Six months later, Kidder came out with the truth: she was bipolar. She had experienced a major depressive episode, and thanks to medication and therapy, she was getting better. Most importantly, she wanted to work again. This led to a guest-starring role on the show Boston Commons, and work came steadily after that. While it didn’t match her Lois Lane fame, it was constant and she even won an Emmy in 2015 for voice-over work.
When news of her death came today, I felt melancholy.
Forty years after Superman’s debut, both stars are now gone (Reeve died in 2004).
But the image of Superman and Lois Lane soaring across the cinescape, high above Metropolis, is something that will be with us forever.