Sunday, May 20, 2018

Margot Kidder (1948 – 2018)

     I heard that Margot Kidder passed away on May 14. She was way too young at 69. The early press releases did not disclose the cause of the death.  The obituaries noted that she had struggled with a spinal injury from a car accident in the 1990s. In that decade, she also suffered from a serious breakdown in 1996 due to a bipolar disorder. She had gone from stardom to broke and then rehabilitated herself in this century where she returned to acting and political/social activism including supporting Bernie Sanders in the most recent presidential election.
     Margot Kidder was most well-known for the three Superman movies she made with Christopher Reeve. The movies Superman I, II, III were made in 1978, 1980 and 1983 respectively. While I certainly watched those films, they were not necessarily my favorites. I thought that Margot Kidder played a spunky and entertaining Lois Lane but that is not why I remember her.
     Margot Kidder first caught my eye in Playboy magazine of all places. She had a photo shoot in the March 1975 issue. The photos were all in black and white and of all the various photos I had seen in Playboy, Margot Kidder’s were the most memorable.
     All the other photos in Playboy were, what was then called, cheesecake. They were topless or nude pin-up shots meant to stimulate and entice men. Kidder’s photos were certainly topless and nude, but they were so much more. I recall, when I first saw them, that they were not the run of the mill Playboy photos but were actually art. They were stylish, stylized, classic, as in Greek Sculpture classic, and she was perfectly and beautifully suited for the role. They were unforgettable. Like I said, hers was the only photo shoot from Playboy that I actually recall. The photo here is, I believe, one of them: black, white, and artistic. The full photo shoot was nowhere to be found online.
     Kidder only agreed to do the photo shoot if she could could write the copy for the accompanying article. Her words resonate well today given what I have read about young girls dealing with the reality of not being, drop-dead, model gorgeous. I checked with a few buddies about my age, they two recall these photos as being the best they had ever seen in Playboy.  None of us recalled reading the accompanying article back in 1975.
     Playboy? Really? Yes, I have to admit that I did buy the occasional issue and look at others back in the 1970s. Of course, I bought or looked at them for the photos mostly. But, I did read some of the articles and interviews. Out of all the articles and interviews, the only one I recall was the March 1974 issue in which they interviewed Groucho Marx.  There must have been something special about the March issue in back then.
     These days, Playboy magazine is almost a thing of the past. I cannot even recall the last time I have even seen one.  The once popular magazine that was published monthly is down to six issues per year. In March 2016 they did what would have been unthinkable in the 1970s, they stopped using photos of nude women. Compared to the photos and porn floating about the internet these days, Playboy was the softest of the soft porn. Of course, in the 1950s and 60s, it was scandalous which accounted for its popularity at the time. Per the Los Angeles Times in an article on January 2, 2018, “U.S. circulation has dropped to less than 500,000 an issue from a peak of 5.6 million in 1975 amid struggles in the broader print magazine industry.” The private equity firm that now call the shots since the passing of Hugh Hefner is actually thinking of shutting down the magazine.
     It is funny that the magazine circulation peaked in the only years that I recall both an interview and a collection of special photos of Margot Kidder.

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