Margot Kidder’s quest to help hopeless down-and-outs led her to a life of hell in her final months, close friends have revealed exclusively to DailyMail.com.
The actress-cum-activist’s home in Livingston, Montana, was taken over by meth-heads who she was trying to ‘fix,’ they said.
The druggies ended up cooking methamphetamine in her basement and stealing her valuables, they added.
‘Margie was a real bad judge of people,’ environmental activist Louisa Willcox said, using the name that the Superman star was universally known by around the town, which has attracted dozens of counter-culture characters over the years.
‘Towards the end I went round to help her with her medications and I couldn’t read the instructions on the bottle because the ink had run.
‘She told me that was because she had to hide the pills in her bra to stop these guys stealing them.’
The tragedy is all the more intense as Kidder’s breakdown in 1996 which precipitated the end of her showbusiness career also made her a symbol of resilience in the face of mental illness.
She had taken in the drug users out of a desire to help them, friends said. Instead, they took advantage of her.
Remembered: Margot Kidder plunged into campaigning for her environmental causes and for Bernie Sanders in her last years. But friends said they were hit by tragedy as meth users exploited her generosity and took over her house
The actress, best known for her role as Lois Lane in the 1978 version of Superman alongside Christopher Reeve, was 69 when she died in her sleep last weekend in her Livingston, Montana home
Margot Kidder’s final days had been beset with health problems brought on by her drinking, close friends of the actress reveal
‘She became a target for Livingston’s meth scene,’ added Willcox, who had been friends with Kidder for some 30 years. ‘They took her jewelry, her silver, anything they could get their hands on.
‘There’s a famous picture of her with Jesse Jackson with their arms raised, that she had in a silver frame. I just hope that is safe — but I don’t know.
‘She hadn’t realized what was going on. She couldn’t understand why all these strange cars were turning up at her home at odd hours of the day and night.’
Thrice-married Kidder, who found fame alongside Christopher Reeve in the 1978 version of Superman, died in her sleep last weekend at her four-bedroom home in Livingston. She was 69.
Bruce Becker, attorney for Park County which covers Livingston, told DailyMail.com that authorities are awaiting a toxicology report before determining the cause of death. ‘It should be ready in two to three weeks,’ he said.
Louisa Willcox (pictured) who was friends with Kidder for more than 30 years, revealed the actress’s home had been taken over by drug addicts
Another close friend, author and environmentalist Doug Peacock confirmed that Kidder had been victimized by ‘a lot of losers’ but said her heavy drinking also contributed to her downfall. Her favorite tipple was cheap rosé wine.
‘She was never a dull or boorish drunk, just a little crazy and that is how she medicated,’ Peacock told DailyMail.com in an exclusive interview.
‘Her habits were getting the better of her. She would go on benders and drink too much. From what I heard she was recovering from one of those and went to sleep and never woke up again.
‘I hauled her into rehab any number of times, most recently a couple of years ago,’ he added. ‘But she never really stopped drinking.
‘I wanted her to hang on a bit longer but that stuff catches up with you,’ said. Peacock.
Her friends say Kidder was in great pain as a result of a 1990 car accident that left her in a wheelchair for a while and a degenerative back condition.
‘Her bones were falling apart,’ said Willcox, who said her friend had become really sick after she joined protests against the Dakota Access oil pipeline on the Standing Rock Indian Reservation in North Dakota.
Kidder collected a huge library of books for a school for children of the protesters who had traveled from all over the country. She took a U-Haul truck full of books to North Dakota but was unprepared for the bitter cold, said Willcox. All she had was a tent, sleeping bag and Jake, her 150 lb. Great Pyrenees.
This was Kidder’s four-bedroom home in Livingston, Montana. Friends say the basement was being used as a meth lab by local drug addicts – who the actress had tried to help
A Park County coroner’s sticker was seen on the side door of her home last Thursday in the wake of her death. Toxicology tests are still being conducted to determine exactly how she died
The meth-heads allegedly stole her jewelry, silver, and even Kidder’s medication
‘She didn’t want to die there. It was just so cold,’ said Willcox who also spent time at the protests in the winter of 2016-17.
Willcox said she and her husband David Mattson left Livingston for six weeks this winter. When she returned she found Kidder had lost some 40 lb. ‘She was the ever-shrinking woman,’ she said.
But she was still dedicated to the numerous progressive causes that she had devoted her life to, working for days on end with no rest, due to her bipolar condition.
‘I called it Margieland,’ said Willcox. ‘Her life was chaos. It’s all terribly tragic.
Peacock, a Vietnam Green Beret who spent nearly two decades living among grizzly bears in the Montana wilderness as a way of therapy after the war, said his friend’s death did not come as a shock to him. ‘She was in poor health,’ he said.
The Grizzly Years author became friends with Kidder after the actress suffered a mental breakdown in Los Angeles in 1996.
She had flown there from her home in Livingston to get her computer fixed and was discovered ranting in a back garden with her teeth smashed in after an attempted rape.
She was taken in by police and that’s when she called. ‘She was allowed one phone call and she called me. She knew I was the one person in the world that would understand that level of madness, and I was,’ said Peacock.
‘She was delusional and I understood what she was talking about as I had the same demons that were visiting her. She thought she was being followed by the CIA and her ex-husband.
‘I just listened to her. We had a calm conversation and I didn’t say “get help” or “go see a shrink” and she appreciated that. I had been in similar predicaments myself not knowing what was real and what was not.’
Kidder didn’t even know Peacock well at the time. ‘We were acquaintances and neighbors. I lived in Jeff Bridges’s old ranch house and at the time she lived two or three miles down the road — which around here is considered close.’
Peacock arranged for literary agent Bob Datilla to fly to California to get Kidder. ‘He is much better in police stations than me — I tend to end up behind bars,’ he said.
Kidder was a well-known activist who took part in the protests against the Dakota Access oil pipeline at Standing Rock in North Dakota. Above she is seen during her arrest while protesting the Keystone XL pipeline outside the White House in 2011
Her friend shared a photo of Kidder with the Montana Women for Peace dressed as Liberty Belles for the Livingston Fourth of July parade
Campaigner: She also rallied for Montana Democratic Senator Jon Tester but friends say that her health was hit by her campaigning
‘After that incident we became fast friends,’ said Peacock, 76. ‘I could always count on her to do the best she could — to come when I needed her, to get me out of the mud or metaphysical quicksand. That lasted for more than 20 years.’
But in recent years as Kidder’s drinking got worse, he saw less of her. ‘Toward the end she needed people to help her. She had some great people and she had some real losers. But she needed people, because she would fall down.’
Peacock was the model for George Washington Hayduke, one of the main protagonists in Edward Abbey’s eco-sabotage novel The Monkey Wrench Gang. He spoke to DailyMail.com at his home in tiny Emigrant, Montana, minutes before he left for Botswana, where, he said, he was going to ‘tear down a fence that prevents elephant migration.’
Kidder’s body was cremated soon after her death. But Peacock hopes to be involved in the scattering of her ashes when he returns from Africa.
‘She told me she was going to put in her will that she wanted me to scatter her ashes in an impossible-to-find valley in the Absaroka Mountains. It was her favorite spot.
‘But I haven’t heard from her lawyer, so I don’t know whether that will happen.’
Kidder’s brother, John, a Green Party politician from British Columbia, Canada, traveled to Livingston, after his sister’s death. Margot had campaigned for him over the years.
Kidder and neighbor Doug Peacock became close friends after Kidder suffered a mental breakdown in Los Angeles in 1996. Peacock says he also took the actress to rehab for her drinking ‘many times’
Kidder’s long-time friend Doug Peacock, 76 (pictured outside his home in Emigrant, Montana) said her death did not come as a shock to him since she had been in poor health for years
Kidder and Peacock had a close friendship that lasted 20 years, but the 67-year-old saw less of her after her drinking worsened, he said
Kidder had lived in the center of Livingston for the past 19 years. She was often seen riding her bicycle around town. That bike was still parked outside the home four days after her death. A yellow coroner’s tape sealed the door warning people to keep out. A woman at the house told DailyMail.com she wasn’t ready to talk.
The family’s only comment was a statement from her son-in-law, Chad Franscoviak. ‘On Mother’s Day, my wife, Maggie McGuane, was brought by the Park County Coroner and Livingston Police Department into her mother Margot Kidder’s home following her death, Franscoviak said.
‘The experience has been difficult for her and she is choosing not to make public comment until after the findings of the Park County Coroner’s office have been released. We ask that you respect our family’s privacy during this sad time.’
Kidder married three times, but none of them lasted more than 18 months. She originally visited Livingston with first husband Thomas McGuane, who directed her in the movie 92 In The Shade, and fell in love with the area.
But her marriage broke up soon after as McGuane was having an affair with her co-star Elizabeth Ashley.
She was also married to actor John Heard for six days and French director Philippe de Broca. She famously had affairs with former Canadian prime minister Pierre Trudeau and directors Steven Spielberg and Brian de Palma. Maggie, 42, was her only child.
After her third marriage fell apart in 1984, she said she preferred her dogs to men.
Peacock remembered her as someone who loved dogs ‘more than anyone I knew.’ He said he had helped her bury one of her pets.