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Margot Kidder dead; 'Amityville Horror,' 'Superman' star was 69

Margot Kidder in Montreal, Quebec, on Oct. 3,

Margot Kidder in Montreal, Quebec, on Oct. 3, 2000. Credit: The Canadian Press via AP/The Canadian Press via AP / Adrian Wyld

Actress Margot Kidder, who gained pop-culture immortality as Lois Lane in four Superman films, and whose long career included a well-received turn as mom Kathy Lutz in “The Amityville Horror,” has died at age 69.

Franzen-Davis Funeral Home and Crematory in Livingston, Montana, said Kidder died Sunday at her Livingston home. Her manager told CNN she died peacefully in her sleep.

“My mother took me to see ‘Superman’ when I was 5 years old,” said Frank Patz, owner of the fan convention Eternal Con, at which Kidder had been set to appear in June at NYCB Live’s Nassau Coliseum to mark the 40th anniversary of “Superman.” “That was my Superman movie,” as the 1978 film was to a generation that came of age in that era. “It was a dream come true to have her come to the show,” he said. “This is very sad news that she passed.”

In “The Amityville Horror” (1979) — based on Jay Anson’s book about purported ghostly events at 112 Ocean Ave., where Ronald DeFeo Jr. had shot and killed six members of his family in 1974 — Kidder played the real-life Kathy Lutz, who with her husband and children move in to the home, only to eventually flee in terror. “I did it for money, frankly,” Kidder said in 2016. “My agent and I had a policy: one for the heart and one for money. I would have done ‘Superman’ for heart, if it had turned out that way. But not ‘The Amityville Horror’; that was one I whored myself out for.”

A fresh-scrubbed brunette with a smoky voice, Kidder also gained notice for her work in then-boyfriend Brian De Palma’s thriller “Sisters” (1972), playing formerly conjoined twins involved in a murder. Her other films include the horror cult-classic “Black Christmas” (1974); the biplane-barnstormer romantic adventure “The Great Waldo Pepper” (1975), opposite Robert Redford and Susan Sarandon; and “Some Kind of Hero” (1982), starring Richard Pryor, another one of the many high-profile personalities she dated. Her most recent movie was last year’s mob drama “The Neighborhood” (2017).

Kidder also appeared in dozens of TV shows, from “The Mod Squad,” “Barnaby Jones” and “Baretta” in the 1970s up through “R.L. Stine’s The Haunting Hour” in 2014. She guest-starred in two episodes of the Superman series “Smallville” as scientist Dr. Bridgette Crosby.

Her personal life was tumultuous. Kidder married novelist and filmmaker Thomas McGuane in 1976 after starring in his movie “92 in the Shade” the year before, but they divorced in 1977 after having daughter Maggie, her only child. Her next marriage, to actor John Heard, lasted six days in 1979, and her final marriage, to French filmmaker Philippe de Broca in 1983, lasted a year.

In 1996, following a manic episode caused by her lifelong bipolar disorder, Kidder went missing for four days in Los Angeles, living among the homeless and suffering a rape attempt. She recovered, and had since controlled the condition through medication.

She was born Margaret Ruth Kidder on Oct. 17, 1948, in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories, Canada, the second oldest child of U.S.-born mining engineer Kendall Kidder and his Canadian wife, Jill. After graduating from the University of British Columbia, where she studied theater, she made her screen debut in an episode of the Canadian TV drama “Wojeck.” Moving to Los Angeles the following year, she made her American feature debut in Norman Jewison’s “Gaily, Gaily.” Kidder was naturalized an American citizen in 2005.

Kidder played Daily Planet reporter Lois Lane, love interest of Superman (Christopher Reeve), in four films from 1978 to 1987. She told the website in 2016 that the on-screen chemistry between herself and Reeve was actually more fraternal than romantic because “we came from similar backgrounds and he looked like one of my brothers. So the energy we had was one of brother and sister, which was often bickering, that took the place of romantic energy. No one noticed the difference one from the other — it worked.”

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