Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Two of my three princesses are now gone

Margot Kidder died on Sunday.

My Lois Lane -- forget Amy Adams or Kate Bosworth -- is now gone.

On social media it was heralded as something of a joke. Not really, but a friend on Facebook memorialized her thus: "RIP Margot Kidder. Pro tip: memorize the recent winning lottery numbers in case Superman spins the earth backwards again." I don't fully get the reference to the lottery numbers, but I suspect it has something to do with Kidder's "crazy" later years, which allowed her to go out as a "joke" rather than someone we loved.

That post got 15 likes, two laughs, and one crying emoji.

I was the crying emoji.

I won't say I'm "taking it hard" -- an actual friend I knew, not well, but a friend nonetheless died of cancer the same day, and that's much worse. She was only in her early to mid 40s.

But I did consider how this now means I've lost two of the three princesses I grew up with.

I kind of always associated Kidder with two other women from movies around the same time, one of whom preceded her in death by about 18 months. Those two women are Carrie Fisher and Karen Allen, otherwise known as Princess Leia and Marion Ravenwood from the Star Wars movies and Raiders of the Lost Ark. They're all three brunettes, and they were all three love interests of seminal characters for me when I was growing up.

And two of them are now gone.

I never got to properly eulogize Fisher on this blog, as she died when I was on vacation in America and still had two weeks remaining of my stay. I don't think I wrote a single blog post the whole time I was gone. But I've felt her loss on numerous occasions, most notably, of course, when watching Star Wars: The Last Jedi (twice). So I'll make up for the oversight a little now.

You might think it strange to include Allen, as she appeared in only Raiders of the Lost Ark. (Well, she returned in Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, but you'd hardly consider that ten-year-old movie as part of my cinematic maturation.) But then again, Kidder only appeared in one movie that I watched with any regularity, which was Superman II, still far and away my favorite of those original movies, and the only one I've seen more than twice. (I've actually seen it more than ten times, as we owned it on VHS when I was growing up.)

The loss of Kidder struck me since the last time I saw her, she was so young. Last Halloween I finally saw The Amityville Horror, in which she's so young she's a downright sex object. Maybe not quite as young as the photo I've selected above, but young and vibrant, with her best years still ahead of her.

But only a few of them I guess. Kidder was gone from the Superman movies after Superman II, though I guess she did return in Superman IV for what I believe was only a cameo. Looking it up just now, I was surprised to discover that she worked pretty regularly for the rest of her life, but never in any roles that approached a signature role like Lois Lane. And to be honest, I couldn't name you a single thing she did without consulting IMDB.

But for a while there in the late 1970s and early 1980s, she had "it," that unmistakable combo of beauty and spunk that makes someone a star. Her Lois Lane was a real spitfire, the type who wouldn't take no guff from no one. And though Lois Lane is kind of the prototypical "woman who must be saved," in Kidder's hands, she was never helpless. In fact, I just think about the balls she shows trying to cover terrorists strapping a bomb to an elevator in the Eiffel Tower, or fighting back against the Kryptonians who captured her, ultimately punching Ursa down a crevasse in Superman's fortress of solitude after Ursa loses her powers. ("You know something? You're a real pain in the neck.")

Taken in combination with Fisher's death in late 2016, it does leave me saddened about the loss of these women who played an early role in my understanding of a cinematic heroine. Sure, they were products of their time in some respects, but they also stood tall and proud. Princess Leia wouldn't take no guff from no one either, and Marion Ravenwood? Forget about it. She can drink you under the table too. In fact, I think the term "drink you under the table" was coined for Marion Ravenwood.

I hope I'll still have Allen for a few more years, though she does turn 67 in October. Unlike the others, she is in good physical and mental health. And much as I might like to see her on screen again, I kind of hope she sits out the fifth Indiana Jones movie.

As for Princess Leia and Lois Lane ... they're both princesses to me, and may they rest in peace.

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