In a poignant reversal of fortune, Reeve, who became famous playing the role of the invincible Superman, was paralyzed in a horse riding accident. The star of “Superman” (1978) and three sequels, Reeve appeared in 17 feature films, a dozen television movies, and about 150 plays. Prior to his injury, he was also active in promoting a wide variety of causes relating to the arts, the environment, children and human rights.
Following his May 1995 injury, Reeve continued his demanding schedule, despite enormous physical challenges. He continued to work as an actor and director, and also devoted great efforts to raise funding for spinal cord research. His inspiring and best-selling biography, “Still Me” (1998), is a frank account of Reeve’s life before his injury and the challenges he faced after becoming paralyzed. While those challenges would be great for any person, they may have been especially so for Reeve, who was an avid outdoorsman and athlete. He twice flew solo across the Atlantic and was an expert sailor, scuba diver, and skier; he was also a skilled pianist. Reeve regained some sensation, but could not move any part of his body below his shoulders. Despite his condition, was “realistically optimistic” and believed that research and advances in medical science would enable him to walk again.
Born in New York City, Reeve’s mother was a journalist; his father a writer and Russian literature scholar. When he was 4 his parents divorced and his mother married an investment banker a few years later. Reeve was raised in a stimulating intellectual environment and attended private school. He began appearing in school plays by age 8 and by age 16 he had an agent. He studied music theory and English at Cornell, and then became one of only two students – the other was comic Robin Williams – to be accepted as transfer students at New York’s famous Julliard School of Performing Arts. His first major commercial acting experience was in the soap opera “Love of Life”. The 1978 box office smash “Superman” vaulted him to movie stardom at the age of 26. He had two children from his relationship with Gae Exton. In 1992 he married Dana Morosini, with whom he had one son.