May 15, 2018

"She said [Christopher] Reeve, making one of his first screen appearances, became irritated whenever she would read during breaks."

"He’d say, ‘You don’t stay in character?’ I’d say, ‘For Christ’s sake, Chris, I’ve been Lois Lane for a year, all you do is look left, I can handle it.’ And I’d pull out my book and he’d get very cross."

From "Margot Kidder, who played Lois Lane in blockbuster ‘Superman,’ dies at 69" (WaPo).

Also:
[I]n 1996, she endured what she later jokingly called the “biggest nervous breakdown in history, bar possibly Vivien Leigh’s,” a reference to the troubled “Gone With the Wind” star. “If you’re gonna fall apart,” she advised, “do it in your own bedroom.”

Her collapse, she said, was triggered by a virus on her laptop that erased years of work on a memoir. The loss sent her spiraling. She became convinced that her first husband, author Thomas McGuane, was trying to kill her with the help of the CIA. She slashed her hair and removed several teeth in a bid to go unrecognized.

Over the course of three days, she wandered the streets and narrowly escaped being raped. She was found disheveled, penniless and disoriented in the back yard of a home in Glendale, Calif., and was taken to a private psychiatric clinic for evaluation....
That's the detail I never forgot about her: She was so mentally troubled that she pulled out some of her teeth. I looked to see if pulling one's own teeth is at all common in mental illness. What I found was "Pulling Teeth to Treat Mental Illness" (The Atlantic):
As medical director of the New Jersey State Lunatic Asylum in Trenton between 1907 and 1930, [Henry Cotton] routinely practiced what he called "surgical bacteriology," the extracting of potentially diseased parts of the head and body, based on the observation that people who run high fevers sometimes suffer hallucinations.

This "focal infection therapy" seemed so scientific and promising that Cotton and his assistants yanked more than 11,000 teeth.... Cotton's experiments were unethical and awful, but they weren't that illogical if you consider the knowledge that was available at the time....

If you had no idea about neurotransmitters or lobes, it makes a weird sort of sense that micro-infections in the head would be the true cause of schizophrenia... [W]e still don't know, say, the very best way to prevent schizophrenia....
But it doesn't say that Kidder had the deranged idea that her teeth were the cause of her psychological distress. It says she was trying to change her appearance so people wouldn't recognize her. I question the accuracy of that report (especially since it had to come from the person who was mentally ill enough to subject herself to such a painful, damaging ordeal).

42 comments:

Sebastian said...

Teeth? That's nothing.

At least she didn't try to change her sex.

traditionalguy said...

Fear of lumbering abusive oafs is real. Fortunately they will leave you alone if you have missing teeth. They are highly selective oafs.

Birkel said...

And that's why I get my best public policy advice from actors and other entertainers.

They. Get. It.

Birkel said...

"All you do is look left."

Might have helped if he had looked forward when riding horses.

Caldwell Titcomb IV said...

"Her collapse, she said, was triggered by a virus on her laptop that erased years of work on a memoir."

By far the most common "virus" is PEBCAK, especially with someone who's too dumb to do backups.

Michael K said...

"Superman" was a terrific movie. That and "Somewhere in Time" were both great. Too bad he was injured but horse jumping is dangerous. He was not the first to break his neck that way.

Curious George said...

"Her collapse, she said, was triggered by a virus on her laptop that erased years of work on a memoir."

Don't worry Margot, no one would have read it anyway.

Tank said...

Also at the WP:

Alarming new revelations about Trump’s addiction to Fox News

LOL

Bay Area Guy said...

Superman was a sweet and hokey flick, but in it Lex Luther did have a brilliant idea. He bought all the cheap land in places like Fresno, Stockton and Bakersfield - east of the majestic California coast line, and hijacked a nuclear missile to detonate in San Francisco to break off the cities into the Pacific Ocean, so that he would own all this new, expensive coastal property.

True, he didn't account for the nuclear fall-out and radiation, but it seemed like a devilish plan at the time.

Original Mike said...

“She increasingly devoted her time to liberal activism”

Would drive anyone nuts.

JPS said...

Original Mike:

[Liberal activism] "Would drive anyone nuts."

You get into chicken-and-egg here.

William said...

I'm glad she found a semblance of balance and had a tranquil death. She was the best Lois Lane........I wonder if her status as a movie star amplified or diminished her problems. If you're a movie star, you're life is crazy, but.on the other hand, you get a lot of attention and you don't fall into hrough the cracks.

William said...

I read somewhere that gingivitis and gum infections are a risk factor for dementia. I don't know how true this is, but nowadays I go for a cleaning every six months.

tcrosse said...

She was done in by the curse of the silent T.

Michael K said...

I thought she was a little annoying but it was probably a good counterpoint to Reeve's dead pan.

DrMaturin said...

Shelley Duvall is another former A-lister who suffered a mental breakdown. I've read that Stanley Kubrick might have contributed to this. A very tragic story.

glenn said...

As Lois she was mega hot, so there’s that. RIP Margo.

Hammond X. Gritzkofe said...

Computer haiku.

With searching comes loss
And the presence of absence:
"My Novel" not found.

Your file was so big.
It might be very useful.
But now it is gone.

Three things are certain:
Death, taxes, and lost data.
Guess which has occurred.

mccullough said...

Gene Hackman lives. He was great in that movie. Brando did a nice parody of himself.

AZ Bob said...

From the Mayo Clinic:

"Schizoaffective disorder is a mental disorder in which a person experiences a combination of schizophrenia symptoms, such as hallucinations or delusions, and mood disorder symptoms, such as depression or mania. The two types of schizoaffective disorder — both of which include some symptoms of schizophrenia — are:

"Bipolar type, which includes episodes of mania and sometimes major depression
"Depressive type, which includes only major depressive episodes

"Schizoaffective disorder may run a unique course in each affected person, so it's not as well-understood or well-defined as other mental health conditions."

Ignorance is Bliss said...

It says she was trying to change her appearance so people wouldn't recognize her.

Apparently it worked. She lasted 22 years before the CIA managed to do her in. I doubt you could do so well.

Wilbur said...

Now that you mention it, Margot and Shelly Duvall did look like they had a few screws loose when they were in the movies and public eye. They just had that look about them.

Very unfair to make this judgment, but it's real nonetheless.

Larry Day said...

A good friend of mine lives in the same neighborhood over in Livingston. He would exchange pleasantries with Margot on his morning walks. He once told me, "She's a very nice lady." That's the kind of stuff I remember about people.

Ralph L said...

My step-monster said she had all her fillings removed and replaced because the mercury had put her on her deathbed. She advised one of my dad's friends in a wheelchair with MS to do the same with her teeth. It did not go down well.

She was crazy in her own special way.

Michael K said...

Margot and Shelly Duvall did look like they had a few screws loose

Mental illness in actresses is not new. Gene Tierney had lots of mental problems, some possibly stimulated by her rubella syndrome baby. When she was entertaining troops in North Africa in the war, a woman fan snuck out of the hospital where she had German measles to meet the actress. She contracted it from the fan and her baby was terribly afflicted.

Frances Farmer was another.

Ralph L said...

Did Tierney later give the woman poisoned champagne? Agatha Christie must have paid attention.

James Graham said...

I had a tooth extracted in the 1950s by a specialist (he only did extractions) who told me that he had "cured" someone's mental problems via extraction.

He wasn't advocating anything, simply claiming that in at least one case a mental problem had disappeared following his dental fix.

Etienne said...

I never get cross. It's too effeminate.

My wife does the sign of the cross, but she only has two speeds: chipper and mad as hell.

Etienne said...

I believe she fucked up the veneers on her teeth. She didn't pull any.

It's just that people look really berserk when they pull their veneers off and don't have the original teeth cleaned up.

I remember her in Playboy magazine. She didn't have the equipment, and so it was a long shot.

Her voice was what I would expect from the Northwest Territories. All the women sound like Moose.

"The Moose is Loose..."

langford peel said...

She was great as the barmaid/girlfriend in "Nichol's" which was James Garners favorite and I think best role. A one year series set in the West in 1914 it is pretty great. Garner plays a non violent Sherrif who rides a motorcycle instead of a horse. It was a pioneer as the killed off the main character in the last episode.

Margot wa very sweet and sexy in the role. Her best work.

LarsPorsena said...

"Her collapse, she said, was triggered by a virus on her laptop that erased years of work on a memoir."

Her collapse was triggered by the fact that she grew old and was not offered any more
roles as an ingenue.

dreams said...

I read about it at the time and what I remember reading is that she wasn't wearing her false teeth when she was found.

Known Unknown said...

Bravo to Hollywood. Chewed her up and spit her out.

Then, they'll lecture all of us how to care for one another again.

GRW3 said...

I always imagined her Lois Lane line in the second Superman movie, when he took her to his hidden fortress, was “Oh, you really are a man of steel!”

rcocean said...

Sorry to hear she died, but I was never really a fan. In fact, I was always curious how she got the part of Lois Lane. I mean, pretty any actress could've done it.

She reminds me of Lauren Bacall. Yep, a nice talent, but plenty of friends in high places helping her along.

rcocean said...

That's the thing about actresses. Probably 90% of their parts are pretty standard. So, the competition is incredible.

The ones who make it are usually either a) incredibly talented or b) lucky or c0 know somebody.

We only know about Marilyn Monroe because a powerful Hollywood agent saw she had talent and cast her in "All about Eve" - otherwise she'd be forgotten.

Rufus T. Firefly said...

She was smart and clever in her interviews, like Rosalind Russell, or Carrie Fisher without all the drugs.
She and Tom McGuane must have been quite the pair. Nick and Nora.

Hollywood’s not kind. So many actress breakdowns. Kidder reminded me of both Elizabeth Ashley and Sean Young, who also had public career-damaging breakdowns, all about the same Time Of Life (tm).

Glad she somehow regained her footing and was still working at the end.

Sydney said...

"He’d say, ‘You don’t stay in character?’
Is this a common thing for actors, to stay in character even when they aren’t acting? That must be hard on their families. Not so good for their mental health, either. Do they ever get confused about where they stop and the character begins?

Sydney said...

Ian McKellan explains acting.

Bob Loblaw said...

Is this a common thing for actors, to stay in character even when they aren’t acting?

Yes.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

In forty years, the only patient I had who had teeth out for psychiatric reasons was one who wanted the pain medication he could get from extractions. He only had a few teeth left when he was sent to prison for a strange and violent crime.

He worked as a clown, a street performer.

J. Farmer said...

I still prefer Noel Neill's Lois Lane.