Christopher Reeve is essentially remembered for his flights across the screen while wearing a red cape and sporting an enormous S across his chest. But it’s for his later off-screen work while hoping to steer again, that solidified him as a hero. His sensitive portrayal of Superman helped make the 1978 movie a blockbuster that set the stage for a wave of superhero movies. Years later, after a horseback riding accident left him paralyzed, he’d use his star power to boost awareness for the disabled. From either angle, he was a hero to many people. To honor Reeve’s legacy, Google will dedicate Saturday’s Doodle to the actor, director and humanitarian, on what would’ve been his 69th birthday.
Born in NY City on Sept. 25, 1952, Reeve earned a bachelor of arts degree from Cornell before being selected to review acting in a complicated program at the Juilliard School under actor and director John Houseman. After two years of acting in plays and soap operas, Reeve auditioned for the role of Superman, beating out quite 200 other actors. With his coal-black hair, piercing blue eyes, and chiseled face, the 6-foot-4 Reeve was the very image of Superman within the big-budget flick. He’d reprise the role in three sequels during the 1980s, proving there was an appetite for superhero movies and paving the way later that decade for the large Batman movie starring Michael Keaton, and eventually for the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Though he was in dozens of other movies, he’s most related to his Superman performances, and for many movie fans, he was Superman. That became the case for millions more after a 1995 horseback riding accident left Reeve paralyzed from the neck down. albeit doctors called the injury one among the worst possible, Reeve showed fortitude, resetting the expectations of what a quadriplegic could do, and he pledged he’d walk again at some point. When a tabloid reported that Reeve had begged his wife to let him die, Reeve responded with an angry denial. “I haven’t given up,” he wrote. “I will never hand over .”
After his accident, Reeve became a strong advocate for people with disabilities and for increased funding for medical research. He and his wife founded the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation, a corporation dedicated to curing medulla spinalis injury by advancing research. He lobbied Congress to expand embryonic somatic cell research, arguing it had been the simplest chance at giving him et al. like him an opportunity at recovery.
“I think that setting challenges may be a great motivator because too many of us with disabilities allow that to become the dominating think about their lives and that I refuse to permit a disability to work out how I live my life,” Reeve told the l. a. Times a year after his accident. “I don’t mean to be reckless, but setting a goal that seems a touch daunting actually is extremely helpful toward recovery.” Reeve returned to Hollywood after his accident and made his directorial debut in 1997 with the critically acclaimed TV movie within the Gloaming, starring Glenn Close. During a 2017 fundraising appearance for Reeve’s foundation, a tearful Close shared her remembrance of his character.
“I miss Chris. He was an excellent man. He had more … he had more moral and mental fortitude than anyone i will be able to ever know,” she said, consistent with an E Online account of the speech. “It moved me to the core, and there have been times when it even took my breath away. And he was courageous. Against the chances, he had the courage to hope for his dream, which is now our dream — a world of empty wheelchairs.” In 2004, after an almost decade-long battle, Reeve suffered asystole and fell into a coma before dying. He was 52 years old.