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Actress Found Wandering in a Daze Was Writing Autobiography of Troubles

April 25, 1996 GMT

GLENDALE, Calif. (AP) _ Margot Kidder spent the last few years writing a book about her life. The working title, a friend said, was ``Calamities.″

For the woman who became known to the American public as the feisty and determined reporter Lois Lane in the ``Superman″ movies, her personal life was full of mishaps _ financial, physical, marital.

Her latest calamity has left police and friends mystified.

Dirty, dazed and claiming she had been stalked and assaulted, Kidder was found crouching in a stranger’s back yard Tuesday, two days after she told a TV news crew that an ex-husband had hired someone to kill her. Police say she seemed to have cut her hair with a razor to alter her appearance and she was missing her front dental bridge.

``She was afraid she was being followed. She was frightened for her life,″ said Glendale police Sgt. Rick Young, who described her responses to their questions as ``cryptic.″

``We asked her who was following her. She wouldn’t say.″

Tests showed no sign of drugs or alcohol in her system, Young said.

Kidder initially was taken to a psychiatric hospital in the Los Angeles suburb of Sylmar for observation, but reportedly was moved to an undisclosed location Wednesday. Glendale police said they weren’t aware of the transfer.

Police said they had found no evidence to support her claims of assault. She was scratched and bruised, they believe, while hiding in the bushes.

The news shocked friends of the 47-year-old Canadian-born actress, whose career peaked in the 1970s and ’80s with the ``Superman″ series and was followed by a string of mediocre films and acting projects.

A close friend, who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity, said Kidder was in ``a difficult patch″ in her life.

``She’s just a real authentic, original person,″ he said. ``It’s sad.″

Her autobiography, the friend said, is not yet complete but she wanted to call it ``Calamities.″

Her ``Superman″ co-star Christopher Reeve, paralyzed from the neck down in a horse-riding accident last May, offered help.

``She is a dear friend who has always been there for me, and I would do anything to help her,″ Reeve said in a statement.

Kidder, whose former husbands were novelist Thomas McGuane, actor John Heard and French director Philippe De Broca, was headed to Arizona last Saturday to teach an acting class at the Theatre Guild, a producer of plays.

A Knoxville, Tenn., TV news crew, in Los Angeles to cover Wednesday night’s Academy of Country Music Awards, encountered her early Sunday morning at Los Angeles International Airport. She was waiting to board a flight to Phoenix.

WBIR-TV anchor Ted Hall said a disheveled and dirty Kidder identified herself, asked to ``hang out″ with the crew, then said an ex-husband _ it was not clear which one _ had hired someone to kill her. Hall said Kidder pointed to other travelers at the airport as though they were after her. A Hertz rental car employee finally called a taxi for her, and she left.

Kidder’s agent reported her missing on Monday.

In 1978, Kidder landed her best-known role as Lois Lane in ``Superman,″ and she appeared in three ``Superman″ sequels. Other film credits include ``The Great Waldo Pepper,″ ``The Amityville Horror″ and ``Maverick.″

She injured her spinal cord in a 1990 auto accident while filming a cable TV series in Canada based on the Nancy Drew mysteries. Surgery eventually solved Kidder’s physical ailment, but sent her into bankruptcy when her insurer refused to pay her bills, People magazine reported in 1992.

A warrant for her arrest remains outstanding. It was issued in October 1992 after she failed to appear in court for arraignment on a misdemeanor charge of driving without a valid driver’s license and running a red light.