Christopher Reeve was born September 25, 1952, in New York City. At age four, his parents (journalist Barbara Johnson and writer/professor Franklin F.D. Reeve) divorced. His mother moved sons Christopher and Benjamin to Princeton, New Jersey, and married an investment banker a few years later. After graduating from high school, Reeve studied at Cornell University, while at the same time working as a professional actor. In his final year of Cornell, he was one of two students selected (Robin Williams was the other) to study at New York's famous Juilliard School of Performing Arts, under the renowned John Houseman. Although Christopher is best known for his role as Superman (1978), a role which he played with both charisma and grace, his acting career spans a much larger ground. Paralyzed after a horse riding accident, he died suddenly at age 52, after several years of living and working with his severe disability.IMDb Mini Biography By: Anonymous
|Dana Reeve||(11 April 1992 - 10 October 2004) (his death) 1 child|
Black hair and light bold blue eyes
Towering height and athletic physique
5/27/95: Paralyzed in a horseback-riding accident near Charlottesville, Virginia.
Was a licensed pilot.
Attended Cornell University, where he lived in Risley Hall, as a member of the class of 1974, leaving for Juilliard after his junior year.
August 2000: Broke his leg after falling out of his wheelchair during a workout.
Turned down the lead role in American Gigolo (1980) which went to Richard Gere. Turned down the role of Fletcher Christian in The Bounty (1984) which went to Mel Gibson. Turned down the lead role in Body Heat (1981) which went to William Hurt. Turned down the role of Mason Verger in Hannibal (2001) which went to Gary Oldman. In 1976, turned down the role of Mark Harris in "Man from Atlantis" (1977) which went to Patrick Duffy. Turned down the role of Jack T. Colton in Romancing the Stone (1984) which went to Michael Douglas, who also served as one of the film's producers.
Gained 30 pounds for the role of Superman.
Wrote an autobiography, "Still Me." The book was a bestseller, and he was working on another book at the time of his death.
5/3/02: He and wife Dana Reeve opened a center devoted to teaching paralyzed people to live more independently in Short Hills, New Jersey. Known as the Christopher and Dana Reeve Paralysis Resource Center, the facility operates a website, publishes "Paralysis Resource Guide" and houses the largest U.S. collection of paralysis-related publications. The Reeve Family Foundation has also distributed grants to paralysis researchers totaling some $22 million.
The last character he played before his riding accident was a paralyzed individual in Above Suspicion (1995), which was released six days before the accident.
At the time he was paralyzed, he had been doing a film on horseback-riding safety.
Jane Seymour's son was named after him.
Hal Ketchum's "Hang in There, Superman" was written about him.
Son of F.D. Reeve.
Died at Northern Westchester Hospital in Mount Kisco, New York, after suffering heart failure while being treated for a severely infected pressure wound (common among paralyzed people).
Brother: Benjamin Reeve (b. 1953). Half-brothers: Jeff Johnson and Kevin Johnson.
Said that after he was paralyzed, it was his wife's support that kept him from choosing death over living on a respirator.
Was roommate with Robin Williams at Juilliard. They remained close friends for the remainder of his life. Williams helped pay his medical bills during his final years and dedicated his Cecil B. DeMille lifetime achievement award to Reeve.
After the critical and box-office failure of Superman III (1983), he was reluctant to do a fourth Superman film, especially if it was going to be treated as a farce. He eventually agreed to do it when the producers promised him story input and that they would finance a longtime pet project of his, the gritty crime drama Street Smart (1987), in which he played an amoral reporter.
His weight trainer for Superman (1978) was British weightlifting champion David Prowse, who played Darth Vader in Star Wars (1977), Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back (1980) and Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi (1983).
Along with Margot Kidder, Jackie Cooper, and Marc McClure, he is one of only four actors to appear in the first four Superman films: Superman (1978), Superman II (1980), Superman III (1983) and Superman IV: The Quest for Peace (1987).
After he died, a number of memorial cartoons to commemorate his death were Superman-themed. Many artists drew Reeve as Superman flying away from the wheelchair. In one picture, Superman came to Reeve's grave with flowers. In another picture, a grief-stricken Superman reads the news of Reeve's death in The Daily Planet newspaper and says to the reader, "He was my hero." In another, Captain America, Spider-Man, and Batman come to Reeve's grave with Batman, commenting, "He really was a super man." In another, a young boy in a wheelchair tells the reader, "He was the Man of Steel. He had incredible vision. He used his powers to save people. Nothing could stop him. And I think before that he acted in some Superman movies." Some pictures depicted Reeve arriving in heaven dressed as Superman; in one, he says to Gabriel, "You can keep the wings." In another, dressed as a regular angel, he declines the wings by saying, "No thanks, I'd rather walk.".
Took some criticism for his portrayal of Clark Kent (Superman's alter ego) as a weak, bumbling nerd. This characterization (which he said was based on a younger Cary Grant), in Reeve's opinion, was necessary because he felt that there had to be some kind of a difference between Superman and Clark Kent, otherwise "it's just the same guy in glasses."
At the time of his death, he had regained partial movement in his fingers and toes, and said he could feel a pin prick anywhere on his body as well as differentiate hot and cold temperatures.
The character he portrayed on "Smallville" (2001), Dr. Swann, was named after longtime Superman artist Curt Swann.
Made his Broadway debut starring opposite Katharine Hepburn in a production of "A Matter of Gravity" in 1976. Hepburn became very fond of him, both as an actor and as a person, and teased him that he would take care of her when she retired. Ironically, Reeve's reply was "Miss Hepburn, I don't think I'll live that long."
5/18/05: Was posthumously awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Letters by Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, in New Brunswick, and an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree at Stony Brook University's commencement on 5/20/05. His degree was accepted by Stony Brook graduate student Brooke Ellison, whose life and struggle against paralysis was the subject of a made-for-TV movie directed by the late actor just before his death in 2004.
Was slated to direct a fifth Superman film featuring a new actor in the lead role if the fourth film was successful. Since the fourth film did poorly at the box office, the fifth film never materialized.
The "Smallville" (2001) episode "Devoted" was dedicated to his memory, with the caption at the end of the credits reading: "He made us believe a man could fly.".
A picture of him as "Superman" appears at the end credits of European Vacation (1985).
Wore nearly 25 different Superman costumes for Superman (1978), some of which were specifically for walking and others that were for flying, and some of which were turquoise for blue screen shots (in order to balance out the blue of the uniform).
January 2004: He was decorated by the Chilean government for his humanitarian work, with the Bernardo O'Higgins Order, by the Chilean chancellor in his home in New York.
He went to Chile in 1987 during the military dictatorship to support about 80 Chilean artists (actors and directors) whose lives were threatened by the death squads of dictator Augusto Pinochet.
A Superbowl XXXIV commercial for a medical company, set in the future, portrayed Reeve as being able to walk, via computer animation. The next day, the company was flooded with phone calls from people asking how they had cured him.
Was not given first billing in any of the Superman films until Superman III (1983). As a relatively unknown actor at the time, he was given third billing behind Marlon Brando and Gene Hackman in the Superman (1978), then given second billing behind Hackman in Superman II (1980) before achieving top billing in the third film.
Was a fan of "Law & Order" (1990). He claimed that watching it helped him through his physical therapy.
Winner of a Grammy Award in the "Best Spoken Word Album" category for "Still Me" (1998)
While Reeve was filming Somewhere in Time (1980), the local theater decided to show his breakout hit Superman (1978). Many "Somewhere" cast members joined locals for the event. Early into the screening, the sound went out. Reeve, who was seated next to co-star Jane Seymour, stood up in the audience and delivered all the lines.
At the height of his popularity as Superman, a group of children who recognized him in a park purposefully threw their Frisbee over a fence and then asked him to fly after it. Trying hard not to hurt their feelings, Reeve replied he couldn't fly after the Frisbee because his cape was in the washer, so they settled for him just reaching over the fence and handing it back to them.
Godfather of Christopher Keach, Jane Seymour's son.
Following Superman (1978), he was offered a number of scripts for action films, one of which he claims was a script for a film about the Viking Eric the Red. He turned them down because he felt they didn't require much in the way of acting. Instead, he chose Somewhere in Time (1980) as his first post-Superman film, against the advice of his agent, because he liked the script and the character.
Was a descendant of the prominent D'Olier family of France. Descendant of Humphrey Plantagenet, 1st Duke of Gloucester, younger brother of the famous King Henry V of England.
Was the very first caller into Dr. Frasier Crane's radio show on the situation comedy "Frasier" (1993).
Was a licensed hang glider pilot. This proved useful during the making of Superman (1978), as his knowledge of how flying works allowed him to create distinctive movements for Superman during the flight scenes.
Was offered Richard Gere's role in Pretty Woman (1990). When he went in to do a reading, he was not given actress Julia Roberts to read with, but the casting director, giving a half hearted effort at best. Reeve felt this was extremely unprofessional and chose not to do the film.
Biography in: "The Scribner Encyclopedia of American Lives". Volume 7, 2003-2005, pages 452-454. Farmington Hills, MI: Thomson Gale, 2007.
He had a love of Scotland and its countryside. He often visited Scotland with his family.
Among the lead roles turned down were Julian Kaye in American Gigolo (1980), Richard Lestrange in The Blue Lagoon (1980), Ned Racine in Body Heat (1981), T.S. Garp in The World According to Garp (1982), Jeff Spicoli in Fast Times at Ridgemont High (1982), Allen Bauer in Splash (1984), Daniel Jack T. Colton in Romancing the Stone (1984), Dan Gallagher in Fatal Attraction (1987), Martin Riggs in Lethal Weapon (1987), Edward Lewis in Pretty Woman (1990) and Fletcher Christian in The Bounty (1984) (when David Lean was attached as director).
Studied acting with Michael Howard in New York City.
Received a two-minute standing ovation at the 68th Annual Academy Awards in 1996. He was introducing a film montage recognizing how Hollywood has tackled social issues.
Cousin of Elizabeth Hubbard.
Said he had originally planned for 1995 to be his comeback year, with lead roles in Village of the Damned and Above Suspicion and other major roles in the works, including a film reuniting him with director Richard Donner. Unfortunately, his comeback was cut short by his tragic horse riding accident.
He was inducted into the 2012 New Jersey Hall of Fame for his contributions to Arts and Entertainment.
He was the first actor to play Superman who was born after the character was created (1938).
Before 2011, he held the record for playing the same Comic book character more times than any other actor. He was overtaken by Hugh Jackman who has played Marvel Comics' hero Wolverine in 5 films. Reeve does still have the honor of playing a titular hero more times though.
He is the first and, so far, only actor to play a DC Comics title character (Superman) in more than three films.
Received a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 7021 Hollywood Boulevard in Hollywood, California.
Either you decide to stay in the shallow end of the pool or you go out in the ocean.
What makes Superman a hero is not that he has power, but that he has the wisdom and the maturity to use the power wisely. From an acting point of view, that's how I approached the part.
A hero is an ordinary individual who finds the strength to persevere and endure in spite of overwhelming obstacles.
[talking about Robin Williams' visiting him in the hospital shortly after the accident] There was this guy wearing a blue scrub hat and a yellow gown and with a Russian accent, being some insane Russian doctor . . . I laughed for the first time, and I knew that life was going to be okay.
I have seen first-hand how Superman actually transforms people's lives. I have seen children dying of brain tumors who wanted as their last request to be able to talk to me, and have gone to their graves with a peace brought on by knowing that their belief in this kind of character is intact. I have seen that Superman really matters. They're connecting with something very basic: the ability to overcome obstacles, the ability to persevere, the ability to understand difficulty and to turn your back on it.
I asked Sean Connery how to avoid being typecast and he said, "First you have to be good enough that they ask you to play it again and again."
[on making sequels] You know, when you make sequels, they have to be better each time. And you have to spend the money. I remember on Superman II (1980), we once went down to St. Lucia in the Caribbean from Pinewood--took a whole crew to get a shot of Superman picking a flower by a stream. And we had just been to Norway to get some shots of him in the snow fields. All that was scaled down by the producers of Superman IV: The Quest for Peace (1987), and I think the film looks ersatz as a result.
[Jerry Siegel] and [Joe Shuster] created a piece of American mythology. It was my privilege to be the onscreen custodian of the character in the '70s and '80s. There will be many interpretations of Superman, but the original character created by two teenagers in the '30s will last forever.
[on director Richard Lester's filming of Superman III (1983)] [He] was always looking for a gag - sometimes to the point where the gags involving Richard Pryor went over the top. I mean, I didn't think that his going off the top of a building, on skis with a pink tablecloth around his shoulders, was particularly funny.
Your body is not who you are. The mind and spirit transcend the body.
[from an interview three months before the release of Superman III (1983)] Look, I've flown, I've become evil, loved, stopped and turned the world backward, I've faced my peers, I've befriended children and small animals, and I've rescued cats from trees. What else is there left for Superman to do that hasn't been done?
[from a Barbara Walters interview a few months prior to his death] I am getting older and time is ticking. The more time goes by the more I feel a sense of urgency and I can accept anything except for complacency.
Hollywood needs to do more. Let's continue to take risks. Let's tackle the issues. In many ways our film community can do it better than anyone else.
[on his post-accident role in Rear Window (1998) (TV)] I was worried that only acting with my voice and my face, I might not be able to communicate effectively enough to tell the story. But I was surprised to find that if I really concentrated and just let the thoughts happen, that they would read on my face.
The key to success is letting the relationships in your life grow to the highest levels they possibly can . . . not putting yourself first in life and remembering that the more you give away, the more you have.
[speaking about the reshoots of Superman II (1980) after changing directors] It was usually done whenever a set doubled or we had a problem with expensive actors being available. I remember we did many scenes from the Daily Planet, if not all of them, while we were doing Part One. So those were pretty much in the bank. Gene Hackman, to the extent that he was in Part Two, was also done while he was around for Part One. I don't remember that he came back again.
[on the famous fight scene in Superman II (1980)] The Salkinds [producers Alexander Salkind and Ilya Salkind] wanted to make a splash. Their vision was really big. I remember much of that as being fun. The strong wind blowing the cars around, from the three baddies with their super breath, that was all staged by [Richard Lester]. And it had an element of humor to it, so it was fun for us to think of gags.
So many of our dreams at first seem impossible, then they seem improbable, and then when we summon the will, they soon become inevitable.
[pn Superman's enduring popularity] He's a friend. Everybody needs a friend. That's why he's still here.
I often refer to Abraham Lincoln, who said, "When I do good I feel good. When I do bad I feel bad. And that is my religion." I think we all have a little voice inside us that will guide us. It may be God, I don't know. But I think that if we shut out all the noise and clutter from our lives and listen to that voice, it will tell us the right thing to do.
A hero is someone who in spite of weakness, doubt or not always knowing the answers goes ahead and overcomes anyway.
I refuse to allow a disability to determine how I live my life. I don't mean to be reckless, but setting a goal that seems a bit daunting actually is very helpful toward recovery
What you probably don't know is that I left New York last September and I just arrived here this morning. And I'm glad I did because I wouldn't have missed this kind of welcome for the world. Thank you. [After he received a standing ovation when he appeared at The 68th Annual Academy Awards to present a film reel on how Hollywood has tackled social issues]
[on "Smallville" (2001)] I was, at first a bit skeptical but the writing, acting and the special effects are all quite remarkable.
I feel that every generation should have a Superman for its own time. I was the right Superman for the 1970s and early 1980s. If they want to do it again, there ought to be a Superman for this time. [Comics Scene magazine, May 1995]
|Superman II (1980)||$500,000|
|Superman III (1983)||$1,000,000|
(2002) Release of his book, "Nothing is Impossible: Reflections on a New Life".
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