In April 1996, Canadian actress Margot Kidder stirred up a media frenzy after a manic episode led her to the brink of destruction. Kidder, best known for her role as Lois Lane in the four Superman movies opposite Christopher Reeve, had long since suffered from bipolar disorder and found herself swinging entirely out of control during the particular episode.
She went missing for three days and was eventually found by police, hiding in someone’s backyard with all her teeth knocked out. Her state was described as “dirty, frightened and paranoid.”
During an interview with People six months later, she recalls encountering a homeless man lighting a crack pipe.
“Don’t do that to your body,” Kidder told him.
“Don’t you be judgin’,” the man replied.
“He’s right,” she remembers thinking. “I have no right to be superior. Here I am. I am homeless.”
Since then it has become known that Margot Kidder struggled with her bipolar disorder. In her life there have been addictions and recoveries, husbands and divorces, a stable of boyfriends (including Superman 3 costar Richard Pryor and former Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau), episodes of bizarre behaviour, and an auto accident that left her bankrupt and partially paralyzed. There was also a suicide attempt when Kidder was in her teens.. All these could be attributed to her illness.
The actress says the “mood swings that could knock over a building” were brought on by manic depression, a disease that affects over 2 million Americans and causes those afflicted to vacillate between euphoric highs and desperate, enervating lows. She says the 1996 episode began when she started “speeding up, chainsmoking, drinking coffee and staying up around the clock,” and eventually became delusional.
[adsense]The lead-up to this episode began when Kidder set to work on her memoires three years earlier. What started out as a healing exercise eventually ended in near disaster. After three years of hard work, the actress’s computer became infected with a virus, which wiped everything she had written. After a trip to a data-retrieval company in LA proved unsuccessful, Kidder once again became delusional. She began to believe that her first husband – novelist Thomas McGuane – was working with the CIA in trying to kill her because her book was powerful enough to change the world.
The paranoia spiralled out of control and became so bad that she could not even bring herself to draw money out of an ATM because she was frightened it might blow up in her face. So, she went into hiding, where she was eventually taken under the wing of 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 some caps on her front teeth that sometimes fell out and which she cemented back in place with Krazy Glue.
When she was found, Kidder went to a rented house on an island near Vancouver in order to avoid the press. But no one will forget this star’s 1996 breakdown in a hurry.
Images: Wikipedia and Loren Javier on Flikr