Real name: Christopher Reeve
Birthdate: September 25, 1952
Partner: Dana Reeve
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In May 1995, Reeve was paralyzed in an accident during the cross country portion of a three day equestrian competition. He was confined to a wheelchair for the rest of his life. He lobbied on behalf of people with spinal cord injuries, and for human embryonic stem cell research. He founded the Christopher Reeve Foundation and co-founded the Reeve-Irvine Research Center. Reeve died at age 52 on October 10, 2004 from cardiac arrest caused by a systemic infection.
In the spring of 1974, Reeve and other Juilliard students toured the New York City middle school system and performed The Love Cure. In one performance, Reeve, who played the hero, drew his sword out too high and accidentally destroyed a row of lights above him. The students applauded and cheered with approval. Reeve later said that this was the greatest ovation of his career. After completing his first year at Juilliard, Reeve graduated from Cornell in the Class of '74.
Reeve's first role in a Hollywood film was a small part as a submarine officer in the disaster movie Gray Lady Down. He then acted in the play My Life with friend William Hurt.
The film grossed $300,218,018 worldwide (unadjusted for inflation). Reeve received positive reviews for his performance:
- "Christopher Reeve's entire performance is a delight. Ridiculously good-looking, with a face as sharp and strong as an ax blade, his bumbling, fumbling Clark Kent and omnipotent Superman are simply two styles of gallantry and innocence." - Newsweek
- "Christopher Reeve has become an instant international star on the basis of his first major movie role, that of Clark Kent/Superman. Film reviewers - regardless of their opinion of the film - have been almost unanimous in their praise of Reeve's dual portrayal. He is utterly convincing as he switches back and forth between personae." - Starlog
Reeve used his newfound celebrity for good causes. Through the Make-a-Wish Foundation, he visited terminally-ill children. He joined the Board of Directors for the worldwide charity Save the Children. In 1979, He served as a track and field coach at the Special Olympics, alongside O.J. Simpson.
Reeve was a licensed pilot and flew solo across the Atlantic twice. During the filming of Superman III, he raced his sailplane in his free time. He joined The Tiger Club, a group of aviators who had served in the Royal Air Force in the Battle of Britain. They let him participate in mock dogfights in vintage World War I combat planes. The producers of the film The Aviator approached him without knowing that he was a pilot and that he knew how to fly a Stearman, the plane used in the film. Reeve readily accepted the role. The film was shot in Kranjska Gora, and Reeve did all of his stunts. At this time, Gae Exton gave birth to their second child, Alexandra.
Reeve went through inner anguish in the ICU, particularly when he was alone during the night. As he lay there one day, the door opened and a man with glasses wearing a yellow surgical gown and a blue scrub hat entered. He said that he was a proctologist and was going to perform a rectal exam on Reeve. It was Robin Williams. Reeve said, "For the first time since the accident, I laughed." They had a long conversation and Williams assured Reeve that he would do anything for him. It was this support from family and friends that convinced Reeve that his life was still worth living.