In April 1996, Canadian actress Margot Kidder, famous for her time as Lois Laine in the 1970s adaptation of Superman, stirred up a media frenzy after a manic episode led her to the edge of destruction. What wasn’t known at the time was that Kidder had long been suffering from bipolar disorder and found herself swinging entirely out of control during the particular episode.
She disappeared for three days and was eventually found by police, hiding in a random backyard with all her teeth missing, seemingly removed by force. She was described at the time as “dirty, frightened and paranoid.”
Six months later she spoke in an interview with People, recalling an encounter with a homeless man as he lit a crack pipe.
“Don’t do that to your body,” She told him.
“Don’t you be judgin’,” the homeless man replied.
“He’s right,” she thought. “I have no right to be superior. Here I am. I am homeless.”
Since then it has emerged that Kidder was completely overcome by her bipolar disorder. She went through phases of addictions and recoveries, husbands and divorces, a glut of boyfriends (including Superman 3 co-star Richard Pryor and former Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau), episodes of erratic behaviour, and a car accident that left her bankrupt and partially paralysed. In her teens she also attempted suicide.
But Margot looks at it with a pragmatic approach and says the “mood swings that could knock over a building” were brought about by manic depression, a disease that affects over 2 million Americans and causes the afflicted to bounce between euphoric highs and desperate, enervating lows. She says the 1996 episode began when she started “speeding up, chain-smoking, drinking coffee and staying up around the clock,” which led her to becoming delusional.
It all stemmed from an attempt to heal herself through writing her memoires; an act of self healing which backfired horribly. Three years later, after much hard work, her computer was infected by a virus and she lost all her work. An unsuccessful trip to a data retrieval centre sank her into depression again ad her delusions became prevalent.
She believed that her first husband, novelist Thomas McGuane, was in cahoots with the CIA who were trying to kill her because her book was powerful enough to change the world.
The paranoia spiralled dangerously out of control to the extent that she would not even draw money out of an ATM because she feared it would explode in her face. She went into hiding, where she was eventually taken care of by a homeless man named Charlie.
In his cardboard shack, Charlie “took such incredible care of me,” says Kidder. “I was cold. I was hungry. I was terrified beyond belief. He stayed with me and held me.”
Kidder had lost caps on her front teeth which often fell out sometimes fell out. She would fix them back in with Krazy Glue but when she was found her teeth were in a terrible state. Kidder went into a rented house on an island near Vancouver to avoid the press and now she is far healthier, in both body and mind after therapy and help from loved ones.
Images: fearnet.com, threeofakind-themovie.com