Christopher Reeve was born September 25, 1952, in New York City. As a child, he studied piano and voice (singing in a madrigal group, no less), worked as an assistant orchestra conductor, and made his acting debut with a Princeton, New Jersey, theatre company at age 9. After completing undergraduate studies at Cornell University, Reeve went on to study drama at Juilliard — where he roomed with funny man Robin Williams — and then received further tutelage from John Houseman. After successful master's degree performances at London's Old Vic and at the ComTdie Frantaise, Reeve returned stateside, where his first role, in a TV soap opera called Love of Life, earned him a 1976 Broadway debut in A Matter of Gravity. He played opposite Katharine Hepburn. Not a bad start.
Two years after his Broadway debut, Reeve was chosen from a pool of more than two hundred hopefuls to play Superman — his patrician features, buff physique, and charming humility breathed life into the comic book hero. Reeve was thereafter a familiar presence on both stage and screen. The success of Superman resulted in three popular and lucrative sequels, but surprisingly, Reeve appeared in few other feature films. Performances in Merchant-Ivory's Remains of the Day and a John Carpenter science fiction flick, Village of the Damned, and Broadway outings in Lanford Wilson's Fifth of July and The Marriage of Figaro, illustrated his versatility.
Reeve's body of work attests to his love of physical and artistic accomplishments, as he has lent his talent to numerous documentaries and TV specials about aviation, sailing (two of his passions), Vincent Van Gogh, and stunt work. Reeve, a passionate spokesperson for the arts, helped found The Creative Coalition, a non-partisan advocacy group of artists — including Ron Silver, Glenn Close, Blair Brown, and Susan Sarandon — who concern themselves with the environment, homelessness, and the protection of the National Endowment for the Arts, a cause that Reeve addressed in testimony before a Senate committee in early 1995.
Apart from acting and political activism, Reeve exercised his zest for life in sport. Tragedy visited the actor in May of 1995 at the spring horse trials of the Commonwealth Dressage and Combined Training Association in Virginia, when his horse, Eastern Express, balked at a three-foot-high rail jump and sent him pitching over the thoroughbred's neck. Reeve's hands were tangled in the horse's bridle, and he struck first the jump and then the turf with his head; he fractured two cervical vertebrae and was rendered paralyzed from the neck down. Unable to move his limbs and confined to a wheelchair that he operated by sipping or puffing on a straw, Reeve continued to fight with incredible strength of will and optimism — bolstered by the loving support of his family and fans — and remained convinced that he would walk again. Reeve believed that there is a cosmic purpose to his accident, and he has been quite successful in his efforts to lobby in Washington for increased funding for spinal cord research.
Despite his paralysis, Reeve directed the HBO film "In the Gloaming", which stars Bridget Fonda, Whoopi Goldberg, and Glenn Close. In addition to collaborating on Still Me, an autobiography that was published in 1998 by Random House, Reeve developed a remake of Alfred Hitchcock's Rear Window in which he directed and stared in & most recently appeared in the hit tv series Smallville.
One of his other recent acting appearances was a commercial that aired for the first time during Superbowl XXXIV. The theme was that you can accomplish anything if you try. This theme was amazingly represented as Christopher Reeve stands and walks during the commercial. Even though this is done through the aid of computer effects, it was a goal that Mr. Reeve was determined to accomplish one day.
Sadly, Christopher passed away on October 11, 2004. He suffered cardiac arrest while at his Pound Ridge home in New York then fell into a coma and died at a hospital surrounded by his family. Although Mr. Reeve never achieved his goal of walking again, it is certain that he is now walking with angels in heaven and soaring higher than he ever did as the Man of Steel.