Long before stars such as Brandon Routh and Henry Cavill became famous through the role of Clark Kent/Superman, Christopher Reeve had sealed his reputation not only as a classic theater actor but also as a movie star with a big budget when he played the BAFTA-winning leading role in Superman (1978).
Later in his life, Reeve, who also starred in other acclaimed films such as The Bostonians (1984) and Street Smart (1987), made a career as an activist, director, and producer as he died of quadriplegia after a riding accident in 1995.
Christopher Reeve – Bio
Reeve was born Christopher D’Olier Reeve, the first of his parents’ two children, Barbara Pitney Lamb and Franklin D’Olier Reeve, on September 25, 1952, in New York City. His father, the son of Colonel Richard Henry Reeve, the longtime CEO of Prudential Financial, was a teacher, writer, poet, and scholar, while his mother worked as a journalist. He is of English descent.
Christopher Reeve was raised by his two parents until 1956 when they divorced. His mother took custody of him and his brother and moved from New York to Princeton, New Jersey. In Princeton, the Reeve boys attended Nassau Street School before moving to Princeton Country Day School in 1959 after their mother remarried to stockbroker Tristam B. Johnson. Reeve was said to have been an outstanding student, having excelled in his studies, sports, and on stage. The boy participated in all sports and was well above his age when he graduated in the honor roll.
At the age of about 15, Reeve was accepted among college students for a teaching position at the Williamstown Theatre Festival in Williamstown, Massachusetts, thanks to his looks and ability to act above his age. Reeve’s performances earned him a $44 per week role with the Harvard Summer Repertory Theater Company in Cambridge the following summer. He graduated from high school in 1970. He had hoped to embark on an acting career immediately, as he had already begun to receive praise for his ability. Following the advice of his mother and stepfather, however, Reeve applied for college and was accepted into a number of schools, including Cornell University, which he wanted to attend.
While still a student, Christopher Reeve signed with the top New York actress Stark Hesseltine, who got him some summer appearances. Before his third year, Reeve flew to Europe to spend some time in the United Kingdom and France, where he saw many theater productions. After returning to the USA and completing his third year of college at Cornell, Reeve moved to Julliard, where he became a classmate of Robin Williams.
In 1974 Christopher Reeve received his bachelor’s degree and then began to dedicate himself full-time to acting. His first roles were in the Broadway play A Matter of Gravity and 1975 in the soap opera Love of Life. A few years after his acting debut, Christopher Reeves had his big breakthrough when he was cast for the lead role of Clark Kent/Superman in Superman (1978), and the rest became history.
What Was The Cause of His Death
Christopher Reeve struggled with many health problems during his lifetime. As a child, he suffered from asthma and allergies, and from the age of 16, he began suffering from a disease called Alopecia areata, which causes hair to fall out of a person’s normally healthy head. However, this disease never threatened his life, as his first near-death experience was when he crushed his first and second vertebrae on his head while riding in 1995. The accident left him paralyzed from the neck down and confined to a wheelchair for the rest of his life.
In the early 2000s, Reeve suffered several infections from his bone marrow, three of which could have been fatal. In 2004, after routine treatment of an infected pressure ulcer that caused sepsis, Reeve suffered cardiac arrest and then coma in response to the antibiotic used. He was in a coma for eighteen hours before he died on October 10, 2004.
Wife and Children
Christopher Reeve was married to Dana Reeve (née Morosini), a theater and television actress and singer who became a disability activist. The couple married on April 11, 1992, shortly before they welcomed their first and only child together, a son named William Elliot Reeve, on June 7, 1992.
From his relationship with Gae Exton, which lasted from 1978 to 1987, Reeve had two other children: Matthew Exton Reeve, born on December 20, 1979, and Alexandra Exton Reeve, born in December 1983. Matthew Reeve is an Emmy Award-nominated producer and director. He and his sister also served on the board of the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation.