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Christopher Reeve
September 25, 1952 - October 10, 2004

Mrs Reeve and her boys Christopher Reeve was born September 25, 1952, in New York City. When he was four, his parents (journalist Barbara Johnson and writer/professor Franklin Reeve) divorced. His mother moved with sons Christopher and Benjamin to Princeton, New Jersey, and married an investment banker a few years later. After the divorce, the boys also spent substantial visitation time with their father, who writing under the name F. D. Reeve, is a noted novelist, poet, and scholar of Russian literature. While with him, Chris and Ben were exposed to a stimulating intellectual environment that included Sunday dinners with F. D. Reeve's friends: Robert Frost, Robert Penn Warren, and Daniel Patrick Moynihan. Meanwhile, Reeve's stepfather, Tristam Johnson, generously paid tuition for the boys to attend the exclusive and academically challenging Princeton Day School.

Chris & his brother Ben "Chris was extraordinary," his mother recalled to an Asbury Park Press reporter. "He was endowed with a great many extraordinary talents. He had a wonderful mind, wide-ranging interests, a willingness to take risks. He was an athlete and scholar with a passion for acting, which began very, very early." Reeve traced his love of acting back to the early years of his childhood when he and his younger brother would climb inside cardboard grocery cartons and pretend they were pirate ships. "To us they became pirate ships simply because we said they were" Reeve said. "The ability to retain at least some of this childhood innocence is essential to fine acting." By age eight, he had appeared in school plays, become interested in music, and was taking piano lessons. At age nine, he was picked to be in a Gilbert & Sullivan operetta Yeoman of the Guard for Princeton's professional theater, the McCarter Theatre. "While I was growing up," Reeve recalls, "I never once asked myself, 'Who am I?' or 'What am I doing?' Right from the beginning, the theater was like home to me. It seemed to be what I did best. I never doubted that I belonged in it." Those he worked with were convinced as well. Milton Lyon, the Artistic Director of the McCarter Theatre who did Finian's Rainbow and South Pacific with Reeve, told him when he was about 14 years old: "Chris, you better decide what you want, because you're going to get it."

A teenage Chris Reeve At age 15, Reeve got a summer apprenticeship at the Williamstown Theater Festival in Massachusetts. By age 16, he had an agent. At Princeton Day School, Reeve participated in various school activities including being President of the Drama Club and Student Director of The Glee Club. Reeve later said about those years, "I loved the theater so much. But I began to feel guility. I thought I wasn't giving enough time to school. So I joined as many school clubs and teams as I could. I played on the ice hockey team. I was in the school orchestra. I even sang with a choral group!" After graduating from high school, Reeve toured the country as Celeste Holm's leading man in The Irregular Verb to Love, then went on to college at Cornell, although he continued to work simultaneously as a professional actor, "thanks to an understanding agent who'd set up auditions and meetings around my class schedule."

Reeve had a special love for ice hockey, a sport that he played from the peewee level through high school where he was Princeton Day's number one goalie for all four years. He thought of pursuing the sport as a career until his freshman tryout at Cornell brought a reality check. The varsity team there was the NCAA champion and Ken Dryden was the goalie. Reeve said, "On the first day of practice, I noticed that there were only two Americans and the rest were Canadians. I was in the goal, and the whole team lined up on the blue line, each with a puck, and they were supposed to take turns going from left to right taking a slapshot. They started to get out of sequence, and sometimes two or three were coming at me, faster than I'd ever seen a puck come at me in my entire lifetime. I got absolutely shelled, and I thought, 'You know, I'm probably going to end up with no teeth,' and so I retreated to the safety of the theatre department. That was the end of my hockey career. In retrospect, I made the right choice. And I still have all my teeth."

As part of his studies at Cornell University, where he majored in Music Theory and English, Reeve spent time studying theater in Britain and France. Of his work in England, where he obtained employment as a "dogsbody" at London's prestigious Old Vic theater, Reeve said: "I was a glorified errand boy, but it was a very exciting time there. I helped by teaching the British actors to speak with an American accent. Then I went to Paris to work with the Comedie Francaise." By the time of his graduation from college, Reeve had already performed in such widely respected theaters as the Boothbay (Maine) Playhouse, the Williamstown Theatre, the San Diego Shakespeare Festival, and the Loeb Drama Center. His roles included Victor in Private Lives, Aeneas in Troilus and Cressida, Beliaev in A Month In The Country, and Macheath in Threepenny Opera.

In lieu of his final year at Cornell, Reeve was one of two students accepted to advanced standing (Robin Williams was the other) at New York's famous Juilliard School of Performing Arts. Here he studied under the renowned John Houseman. When it became financially difficult for his stepfather to continue to pay for Reeve's education, he took the role of Ben Harper in the long-running television dramatic serial Love of Life. While Reeve continued his acting lessons and performed in the soap opera, he found time to audition for and win a coveted role in A Matter of Gravity, a new play slated for Broadway starring Katharine Hepburn in 1976. By this time, the demands of his career had become so great that Reeve was forced to give up his final year at Juilliard, but Reeve said of working with Hepburn: "In Gravity, I had the privilege of spending nine months working with one of the masters of the craft." The two became very close and stayed in touch until Hepburn's death in 2003.

Christopher Reeve as Superman In 1976, Reeve went to Los Angeles and got a small part in Gray Lady Down, a submarine adventure film. Back in New York City, he was in the off-broadway production My Life. During that production, Reeve auditioned and successfully screen tested for the 1978 movie Superman. Reeve's mother later said: "He took the Superman role, quite frankly, as a career move. He felt, even with the risks it entailed, that it would mean he would get a greater recognition and he could bypass the cattle call." Reeve portrayed Superman as "somebody that, you know, you can invite home for dinner... someone you could introduce your parents to." He made Superman believable by playing him as a hero with brains and a heart. Reeve said, "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." Reeve told Gene Siskel: "The key word for me on him (Superman) is 'inspiration.' He is a leader by inspiration. He sets an example. It's quite important that people realize that I don't see him as a glad-handing show-off, a one-man vigilante force who rights every wrong." For playing Clark Kent, Reeve reasoned that "there must be some difference stylistically between Clark and Superman. Otherwise you just have a pair of glasses standing in for a character, and I don't think that's enough for a modern audience." In 1986, Reeve added that "Superman is nothing more than a popular retelling of the Christ story, or Greek mythology. It's an archetype, watered down and made in vivid colors for twelve-year-old's mentality. It's pop mythology, which extends to the actor, then seeps over to a demand that that actor reflect the needs of the worshipers. The worship doesn't only go on in the temples - it goes on in the streets, and restaurants, in magazines. But, you know, I'm from New Jersey, I'm not from Olympus or Krypton, so back off 'cause I can't take the responsibility." The 18 months of shooting for that movie took place mostly in England, where Reeve met and began a relationship with modeling executive Gae Exton. This union produced two children, Matthew Exton born on December 20, 1979 and Alexandra "Ali" Exton born in 1983.

Chris and Jane Seymour After the huge success of 1978's Superman: The Movie, people invariably referred to Reeve as Superman. Reeve downplayed the disdain he felt for that comment: "As far as I'm concerned there is Superman and then there's Christopher Reeve, and I'm not interested in having them merge. What I'm interested in is acting... I've been working since I was fourteen; I studied at Juilliard. I wasn't Superman before and I don't plan to be Superman after." He was a very hot young star at that point and was offered the lead in several major films including American Gigolo and Body Heat. Instead Reeve chose for his next project the very different Somewhere in Time. While promoting the movie at the time of its release, Reeve said, "Somewhere In Time, while it errs on the side of pretentiousness, is an absolutely honest attempt to create an old-fashioned romance. It's based on love rather than on sex or X-rated bedroom scenes. I don't know how to talk about a love story without getting all gooey about it, but the script excited me because of the situation of the leading character... His problem struck me as that of many people. They've got everything going for them, or so they say, except for a real commitment, a real love." In 1980, Reeve spent the summer doing theater in Williamstown. He worked on Superman II and the broadway production of Fifth of July.

In 1987 Christopher Reeve and Gae Exton parted unmarried, but keeping joint custody of the two children - not an easy arrangement with the Atlantic Ocean between the two parents. During that summer in Williamstown, Reeve met his soul mate, Dana Morosini, where she was performing in a cabaret. It was love at first sight for Reeve but Dana was not impressed. Her friend, Bonnie Monte, recalled: " 'He's going to be an arrogant, stuck-up movie star idiot, and I don't want anything to do with him,' Dana said. Reeve had to fight for her, and he did. In four months they were living together, and in 1992 they were married and had a son, William "Will" Elliot born on June 7, 1992.

The Winter's Tale Reeve went on to appear in a total of 17 feature films, a dozen television movies, and about 150 plays. In addition, he hosted or narrated numerous documentaries and television specials, many of which involve interests of his such as aviation or stunt work. His striking good looks and imposing physique were reminisent of Hollywood's classic leading men like John Wayne who, after meeting Reeve at the 1979 Academy Awards, turned to Cary Grant and said: "This is our new man. He's taking over." But rather than limit himself to the heroic roles for which he seemed so well suited, Reeve frequently sought the challenge of parts that cast him against type - playing characters that were gay, sociopathic or villanous. He turned down big paychecks to appear in small films with directors like Sydney Lumet or James Ivory, whom he greatly respected and worked with in The Bostonians and The Remains of the Day. But he has always preferred the stage, considering it an actor's greatest test. In addition to his early stage work, Reeve appeared in The Marriage of Figaro in New York, Summer and Smoke with Christine Lahti in Los Angeles, and he toured with Love Letters in several major cities. He also starred in a well-received production of The Aspern Papers in London's West End with Vanessa Redgrave and Dame Wendy Hiller. But no matter what he was doing at the time, Reeve invariably made every effort to spend summers at the Williamstown Theater Festival.

Creative Coalition 1990 Washington DC In addition to his acting career, Reeve was extremely active in political causes. A liberal Democrat, Reeve said "I became politically active in high school, protesting the Vietnam War. And when I went to Cornell, I became involved in environmental issues. And then, as an adult, I became involved in First Amendment issues and funding for the arts..." Some of the causes Reeve supported were Amnesty International, Save the Children, The National Resources Defense Council, The Lindbergh Foundation, The Environmental Air Force, and People for the American Way. He was a founding member and past president of the Creative Coalition, an advocacy group of artists, and was one of the National Endowment For The Arts most passionate supporters. In 1987, he faced tear gas and real personal danger when Chilean writer Ariel Dorfman asked him to travel to Chile and lead a demonstration in support of 77 artists targeted with death warrants by the Pinochet government. For his successful efforts to free the artists, Reeve received a special Obie Award in 1988 and an annual award from the Walter Briehl Human Rights Foundation. The sobering experience also reinforced his commitment to advocacy work, which by the late 1980's was competing with his career for his time. Environmental issues were of particular interest to Reeve. He addressed the United Nations to encourage the banning of drift net tuna fishing and he played a crucial role in securing a landmark agreement to protect the Hudson River and New York City's reservoir system.

Christopher Reeve and Family Christopher Reeve approached recreation with the same dedication and intensity that he brought to his professional and advocacy work. Reeve set obstacles for himself and then worked to overcome them. He believed that progress in one's life comes from creating your own challenges and then doing the best you possibly can to succeed. An accomplished pianist, he composed and practiced classical music several hours each day and said in an interview that had he not been an actor, he would have liked to have been a professional musician. But Reeve was also a superb athlete who did his own stunts in films and an avid outdoorsman. He earned his pilot's license in his early twenties and twice flew solo across the Atlantic in a small plane. He also flew gliders and was an expert sailor, scuba diver, and skier. By the 1990's, horses had become his passion. He loved the sport called "eventing" which combined the precision of dressage with the excitement of cross-country and show jumping.

Chris riding Buck In May of 1995, it was during the cross-country portion of such an event in Culpeper, Virginia, that Reeve's Throughbred, Eastern Express, balked at a rail jump, pitching his rider forward. Reeve's hands were tangled in the horse's bridle and he landed head first, fracturing the uppermost vertebrae in his spine. Reeve was instantly paralyzed from the neck down and unable to breathe. Prompt medical attention saved his life and delicate surgery stabilized the shattered C1-C2 vertebrae and literally reattached Reeve's head to his spine. Upon regaining consciousness and realizing the gravity of his situation, Reeve wondered to his wife Dana if "maybe we should just let me go." Whereupon Dana uttered the words that gave him the will to live: "But you're still you and I love you." After 6 months at Kessler Rehabilitation Institute in New Jersey, Reeve returned to his home in Bedford, New York, where Dana had completed major renovations to accomodate his needs and those of his electric wheelchair which he operated by sipping or puffing on a straw. Ironically, this most self-reliant and active of men was now facing life almost completely immobilized and dependent on others for his most basic needs. In addition, his condition put him at constant risk for related illnesses - pneumonia, infections, blood clots, wounds that do not heal, and a dangerous condition involving blood pressure known as autonomic disreflexia - all of which Reeve would experience in the coming years.

Even while at Kessler, Christopher Reeve began to use the international interest in his situation to increase public awareness about spinal cord injury and to raise money for research into a cure. A 20/20 interview with Barbara Walters drew huge ratings and many other television appearances would follow. Never a man to turn from a challenge, Reeve accepted invitations to appear at the Academy Awards in 1996, to host the Paralympics in Atlanta, and to speak at the Democratic National Convention in August of that year. At such high-profile appearances Reeve faced risk of embarrassment if he could not speak because his tracheostomy tube was slightly out of position or if his body suddenly spasmed and jerked about uncontrollably (as it did just before the curtain went up at the Oscars).

Christopher Reeve Smiling Despite enormous expenses related to his paralysis, Reeve was determined to be financially self-sufficient. A widespread rumor that his close friend, Robin Williams, had promised to pay all his medical bills was publicly denied by both Williams and Reeve. Less than a year after his injury, Reeve began to accept invitations for speaking engagements. Traveling with a team of aides and nurses he crisscrossed the country, speaking at the Peter Lowe Success Seminars, at universities, benefits, and at many functions relating to disability issues. Reeve's publicist Maggie Friedman, at the Christopher Reeve Paralysis Foundation, said: "He speaks off the cuff, using no notes or teleprompter and most of the time he does not even dictate his thoughts to an assistant." Reeve narrated an Emmy Award winning documentary for HBO called Without Pity: A Film About Abilities which sensitively told the stories of a half-dozen disabled people and also hosted a Canadian documentary about spinal cord injury called The Toughest Break. He returned to acting with a small but pivotol role in the CBS television movie A Step Toward Tomorrow in 1996 starring Judith Light. The next year Reeve made his directorial debut with the critically acclaimed HBO short film In the Gloaming starring his good friend Glenn Close. Gloaming went on to receive five Emmy nominations and was the most honored film at the Cable ACE Awards in 1997, winning awards in four of the six categories it was nominated including best "Dramatic or Theatrical Special". Dana Reeve described In the Gloaming as "a godsend for Chris." She added, "there's such a difference in his outlook, his health, his overall sense of well-being when he's working at what he loves, which is creative work - directing a movie, or acting in one. It completely revitalizes him and feeds him." At these times "his health is at an all-time high, his blood gases are good, he seems to cure skin wounds faster, he sleeps better, he looks better. It's noticeable - it's like being in love."

Reeve's activism after becoming spinal cord injured originally involved bringing more scientists into neurological research to more quickly discover a cure along with doubling the budget for the National Institutes of Health (NIH), a government agency in the executive branch that is part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. But his experiences with his own insurance company and, particularly, the experiences of other patients he had met at Kessler also led him to push for legislation that would raise the limit on catastrophic injury health coverage from $1 million to $10 million. Reeve accepted the positions of Chairman of the American Paralysis Association and Vice Chairman of the National Organization on Disability. In partnership with philanthropist Joan Irvine Smith, he founded the Reeve-Irvine Research Center in California and he created the Christopher Reeve Foundation in 1996 to raise research money and provide grants to local agencies which focus on quality of life for the disabled. Reeve's star power, along with marketing for research dollars, were reasons why spinal cord injury research was given greater attention and more money allocated to the cause. In 2000, Newsweek noted that, "Thanks to Christopher Reeve, spinal-cord injuries-which affect 250,000 Americans-have won great attention, while mass killers like lung cancer and stroke attract relatively less." Reeve used the contacts he had made in Washington during his years of advocacy work to lead the fight to increase funding for spinal cord injury research which, despite recent breakthroughs by scientists, had previously received inadequate financial support. Reeve pointed out: "It is one thing to present legislators with statistics, but quite another to make them face real people who testify at congressional hearings or speak out in the media." Reeve ultimately raised $55 million in research grants and more than $7 million for nonprofit organizations that still help improve the quality of life for people living with disabilities.

Because Reeve found the strength to use his tragedy to help others after facing this devastating life blow, there were many who came to believe that Reeve really was Superman. Bishop Jonathan D. Keaton eloquently described this in his Go Make A Life sermon: "To see Reeve in a severely incapacitated state brought back memories of his famous acting roles as Superman and Clark Kent. Memory told me that Reeve could leap tall buildings with a single bound as Superman. Also, I saw Christopher Reeve as a gem of an investigative reporter... Admittedly, Superman was make-believe... I concluded that Christopher Reeve is Superman, right here, right now... Reeve shows us the power, the possibilities and the results of a fierce and persistent commitment to growth and development. With God's help, Reeve is Superman because: 1. He survived the horse riding accident and challenged himself physically during countless months of painful physical therapy. 2. Because he remained committed to his role as a loving husband and doting father 3. Because he kept hope alive in the face of injury and paralysis that can destroy all hope-in the face of having to depend on his wife and many others to feed, wash, change, move and carry him to the doctor. 4. Because he came to the conclusion that God still had something for him to do... So, Christopher Reeve turned his focus away from his paralysis and began figuring out how he could live afresh. Reeve decided that a lot of people might like to hear his story. Instead of limiting the communication of his story to letters, books and videos subject to edit, Reeve chose the lecture circuit. That meant showing up in public, allowing the public to gawk at his incapacity, talking about his condition and sharing lessons learned. Thus, Christopher Reeve has become Superman for real."

Chris on his porch Meanwhile, life for the Reeve family went on in the most normal way they could manage. With her husband's enthusiastic support, Dana Reeve gradually resumed her singing and acting career. The press and public sometimes labeled her "Saint Dana" or "Superwoman" and Dana told a reporter from Parade magazine in 2005: "Initially I felt very uncomfortable with that. There was nothing superhuman about standing by Chris. [That compliment] always felt a little false. Like, what's so saintly about that? Lucky me. I'm with him!" She laughed. "And I thought, 'Really my job here is to be the voice for the many, many spouses who are caregivers, who don't have the advantage of the world patting them on the back every day.'" Matthew and Alexandra visited with Christopher, Dana, and Will at the house in Westchester County when their school schedules allowed. The family continued its tradition of spending summers at the vacation home in Williamstown, Massachusetts, after Reeve's injury. Reeve said: "This accident has been difficult for all of us. But it hasn't frightened anybody away. We all miss the activities. My daughter, Alexandra, and I loved to ride together. My son, Will, and I would play piano and sing together. Matthew and I loved to play tennis. We all used to sail together. I'd be kidding you if I said I didn't miss that. Ultimately, you have to accept that being together is more important than doing together."

In the years after his accident, Christopher Reeve gradually regained sensation in parts of his body - notably down the spine, in his left leg, and areas of the left arm. But he remained dependent on a ventilator to breathe and was unable to move any part of his body below the shoulders. His condition stabilized and in early 1998, after the taping of a television special to benefit his foundation, Reeve's wife, Dana, described him as "very healthy and very busy". His compelling autobiography, Still Me, was released in April 1998 and quickly hit the bestseller lists. "Writing the book," Reeve said, "was one of the highlights of my life, before and after the accident." Seven months later, critics praised his talent and courage when Reeve reclaimed his leading-man status by starring in an updated version of Rear Window for ABC. Around the time his second book, Nothing is Impossible: Reflections on a New Life, was published, Reeve regained the ability to move his index finger on one hand and demonstrated that breakthrough on Larry King's TV show. On February 28, 2003, Reeve became the third person to receive the experimental treatment called diaphragm pacing via laparoscopy to stimulate his phrenic nerve and allow him to breathe more easily without a respirator; although he continued to need the machine's help while speaking.

"I have a creative life and a political life, and they're both equally important" Reeve said. During a Washington Post Live Chat in 2000, Reeve said: "...And now that I am disabled, of course my main focus is on the quality of life for all disabled people and doing everything I can to help scientists make progress toward cures." Reeve further explained his personal political preference for the Democrat party saying, "Actually, the Republicans have done more for the disabled and for funding medical research over the past eight years than the Democrats. But on many other issues, such as the environment, education, gun control, choice, I support the Democrats, and I am more sympathetic to their position... I would like to see a Democratic Congress." After he was asked to run for Congress, Reeve decided against it because he would not have had the strength or health to do it. Reeve was in the forefront of those lobbying for embryonic stem cell research and he delighted in the controversy. When Paula Zahn asked him if he liked "tweaking" people, Reeve replied, "It is my favorite thing." Reeve continued to schedule many speaking engagements and fundraisers while looking to the future with characteristic enthusiasm saying, "My spinal cord is ready below the injury. I'm realistically optimistic. I don't plan to spend the rest of my life like this." Although it required significant preparation, Reeve's travels also took him abroad to Great Britain, Australia, and Israel.

On May 3, 2002, the U.S. government opened the National Health Promotion and Information Center for People With Paralysis, known as the Christopher and Dana Reeve Paralysis Resource Center through a non-competitive cooperative agreement awarded to the Christopher Reeve Paralysis Foundation. Its purpose is to provide information services to people nationwide who are newly paralyzed, have been living with paralysis, or are family members or caregivers. Reeve said, "One of the most disabling aspects of paralysis is the lack of resources and support necessary to get back into a world that has completely changed for the paralyzed individual - both economically and socially." Reeve continued, "When somebody is first injured or as a disease progresses into paralysis, people don't know where to turn. Dana and I wanted a facility that could give support and information to people. With this new Center, we're off to an amazing start." Dana Reeve later wrote that she had a soft spot for the quality-of-life grant programs and for the resource center, because it's really the people part. "I was the one who figured out, 'Is there a wheelchair ramp so that our family can get into this movie theater?' I thought if that's hard for me, it's got to be much harder for the majority of people out there." Creatively, at that time, Christopher Reeve had in the works movie projects to direct for ABC television on the inspirational lives of Jeffrey Galli, Brooke Ellison, and Robert McCrum. He also was the Creative Consultant for Freedom: A History of US, a 16-part miniseries on public television about American freedom that aired in early 2003. In February 2003 he handed the Superman torch over to Tom Welling on the popular science fiction drama Smallville playing Dr. Virgil Swann, a character created just for him. In March of that same year, he guest starred on The Practice in the episode "Burnout". Finally, Chris reprised the role of Dr. Swann one last time in April 2004 in his last acting appearance.

Reeve's oldest son, Matthew Exton Reeve graduated from Brown University in May 2002 with a Bachelor of Arts degree majoring in art semiotics. A filmmaker, Matthew was contracted to document and direct his father's progress in recovery for three television specials which premiered around the world in 2002 and 2003. The first of three specials, airing around Reeve's 50th birthday, showed him walking on a treadmill while suspended from a special harness. The other two specials are not known to have been made or released. Reeve's daughter Alexandra entered Yale University in Connecticut in 2001 and joined the Yale Polo Squad with her father's enthusiastic support. After graduating in 2005, she enrolled at Columbia University in the City of New York as a student in the School of Law. Young Will inherited his father's love of ice hockey and watching his son play the game became one of Reeve's greatest pleasures after his injury. Will also has an interest in acting as well. Dana Reeve supplemented the family income by taking a number of acting and singing jobs within commuting distance of their home and she co-hosted a daytime talk show, Lifetime Live, for a season.

In early October 2004 Reeve was busy promoting The Brooke Ellison Story, which he had directed, and Dana Reeve was appearing onstage in Los Angeles in Brooklyn Boy preparing to bringing the play to New York. It was the first time she had been away from her husband and son for an extended period. At the time, Reeve was being treated for a pressure wound, a common complication for people with paralysis that he had experienced many times before. The wound had become severely infected, resulting in a systemic infection; yet there seemed no unusual cause for concern. On Saturday, October 9th, Reeve attended one of Will's hockey games. That night, he went into cardiac arrest after receiving an antibiotic. He fell into a coma and was rushed to Northern Westchester Hospital. Dana Reeve would later point out that Reeve had a history of being sensitive to drugs that were usually well tolerated by most people. With the help of Robin Williams' wife, Dana was able to board a plane and rush cross country to join Alexandra and Will at her husband's bedside; arriving shortly before his death on October 10. Christopher Reeve was 52 years old.

Alexandra, Will, and Matthew at Dana's memorial On November 3, 2004, the board of directors of the Christopher Reeve Paralysis Foundation unanimously elected Dana Reeve as their new chairperson and she dedicated herself to carrying on her husband's work. Dana had been used to being in the background of her husband's very public efforts, but as she said in May 2005: "Suddenly, I feel like I don't have that choice anymore. I have to carry on his mission." Dana insisted on going over every grant proposal, lobbied and endorsed politicians, was writing a second book, and made national television appearances both solo and with her son, Will, four months after Chris's death and in the immediate time following her own mother's death. She made plans to resume her singing career. But in an unbelievably cruel twist of fate, less than a year after Christopher Reeve's death, his beloved wife was diagnosed with lung cancer. "What I didn't know is that lung cancer is the number one cancer," said Dana to Kathie Lee Gifford. "I was always looking for breast, ovarian and uterine, and you think, I'm a non-smoker and I live in the country, so I'm good. So I am completely shocked." She also talked about having a cough that lasted for weeks leading her to get diagnosed: "I did, and people were saying, 'Oh allergies, allergies,'...[The doctor] wasn't even going to take a chest X-ray. He was like, 'you're healthy'... and then it was huge. I probably had it for about a year." She fought the disease with grace, courage, and the humor that had characterized both her and her husband as she endured rigorous bouts of chemotherapy. Wearing a wig after her hair fell out, Dana appeared upbeat as she attended the annual Reeve Foundation fundraiser in November 2005 and sang "Now and Forever" in honor of their friend, Mark Messier, a retiring New York Ranger, at Madison Square Garden in January 2006. Sadly, at the age of 44, Dana lost her battle with cancer on March 6, 2006. She had made arrangements with family and friends for the care and future of their 13-year-old son. Alexandra, Will, and Matthew arrived arm in arm to speak at a private memorial service for Dana, as they had done less than 18 months earlier for their father.

Christopher Reeve left a body of artistic work that continues to inspire and entertain millions of people. He also left a left a legacy that includes love of family, heightened awareness and funding to help people dealing with disabilities, and therapy breakthroughs brought about by greater funding for spinal injury research. Donations to the Christopher Reeve Foundation have only increased since the Reeves' deaths; and in July 2006, Christopher's adult children, Matthew and Alexandra, were added to its expanded board of directors. But perhaps most significant is the inspirational example described by Reeve's mother, Barbara Johnson, in 2006: "I think one of the most important things that Chris did for many, many people was, after his accident and becoming a quadriplegic, he showed them that there is life after a spinal cord injury or after a stroke. You don't have to sit in the dark feeling sorry for yourself. I think that he touched many, many, many people and certainly that was an enormous contribution to the quality of life of the people who had been afflicted with something as restrictive or disabling as a spinal cord injury. He didn't just help quadriplegics like himself," added Johnson. "I know for a fact that a lot of others were kind of led to thinking their way into a happier, more productive life. And that may well be his most lasting contribution."

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A complete list of his film works can be seen in the Movie Reviews section of this web site.

In July, 1996 an unauthorized biography Man of Steel - The Career and Courage of Christopher Reeve by Adrian Havill was published by Signet Books. The book includes photos and a listing of what Christopher Reeve has appeared in, and is available for purchase through this web site, along with many other books and videos, in our Online Book and Video Shop.

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