Margot Kidder, actress, activist, local resident, dies at 69

Johnathan Hettinger —
Monday, May 14, 2018
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In this photo taken Dec. 4, 2016, Livingston resident Margot Kidder travels with her dog, Zack, to a Dakota Access Pipeline protest in North Dakota. (Livingston Enterprise file photo)

Margot Kidder, a well-known actress and activist who called Livingston home for decades, died Sunday in her home. She was 69.

Kidder, known as an actress for her roles starring alongside Christopher Reeve as Lois Lane in the original “Superman” movies in the 1970s and 80s, and as Kathy Lutz in 1979’s “Amityville Horror,” was a well-known community figure who was often seen around town riding her bicycle.

Born Margaret Ruth Kidder on Oct. 17, 1948, in Yellowknife in the Northwest Territories, Canada, she was married three times in her life, to writer Thomas McGuane (1976-1977), actor John Heard (1979) and director Philippe de Broca (1983-84). Kidder is survived by her daughter, Maggie McGuane.

The cause of death was not immediately known. 

Park County Attorney Bruce Becker said police were called to Kidder’s home for a report of an unresponsive woman and the officers confirmed Kidder had no pulse. Becker said the coroner will conduct an autopsy.

In a 2006 interview with The Livingston Enterprise, Kidder said she originally moved to Paradise Valley with McGuane.

“You don’t know how things are going to work out,” Kidder said. “Who would have thought I would ever end up here? Montana is really different. There’s something about it that is really special. It’s a jewel up there above the rest. It’s America, but it’s something else.”

Kidder became a U.S. citizen in 2005. She said living in Livingston was a major reason why.

“One of the things about being here and one of the reasons I took out U.S. citizenship, was having such an extraordinary core realization that Livingston was home,” she said. “At times it can bring tears to my eyes. I cannot believe that all these years of banging around all over the dang globe that I found it. What really cemented the feeling was visiting (newborn grandson) Charlie in the room he was born in at Livingston Memorial Hospital. It was the same room I had screamed so loudly (with Maggie). This really is home.”

Kidder had a public battle with mental illness in the 1990s, but recovered and enjoyed her later years in Livingston.

“Imagine someone chronically hurt all the time, and then suddenly the pain goes away. That’s my reality and it’s terrific,” Kidder said.

She worked as an activist for liberal causes, including opposition of the Keystone Oil Pipeline and voicing her opposition for the war in Iraq. She helped found Montana Women For, a group dedicated to empowering women. 

“You know, cynicism and romanticism are two sides of the same coin. So those of us who speak in cynical and black terms are those who actually are secretly idealistic. I don’t think anybody would be an activist if they didn’t have any hope,” Kidder said.

Arrangements are not yet set, according to a notice provided to The Enterprise by Franzen-Davis Funeral Home.