Long before the likes of Brandon Routh and Henry Cavill gained fame for playing the role of Clark Kent/Superman, Christopher Reeve had sealed his reputation as not just a classical theatre actor but a big budget movie star when he played the BAFTA Award-winning leading role in Superman (1978).
Later on in life, Reeve, who further starred in other acclaimed movies like The Bostonians (1984) and Street Smart (1987), had careers as an activist, director, and producer as he was left a quadriplegic following a horse riding accident in 1995.
Christopher Reeve – Bio
Reeve was born Christopher D’Olier Reeve, the first of the two children fo his parents; Barbara Pitney Lamb and Franklin D’Olier Reeve, on the 25th of September, 1952, in New York City. His father, who was the son of Colonel Richard Henry Reeve, the longtime serving CEO of Prudential Financial, was a teacher, novelist, poet, and scholar while his mother worked as a journalist. He is of English ancestry.
Christopher Reeve was raised by both his parents until 1956 when they got divorced. His mother took custody of him and his brother and moved to Princeton, New Jersey, from New York. At Princeton, the Reeve boys attended Nassau Street School before they later transferred to Princeton Country Day School following the remarriage of their mother to stockbroker Tristam B. Johnson in 1959. Reeve was said to be a standout student as he excelled in his studies, in sports, and on stage. The young boy participated in all the sports and was acting way above his age as he went ahead to graduate on the honor roll.
At around the age of 15, thanks to his appearance and ability to act above his age, Reeve was accepted among college students for an apprenticeship at the Williamstown Theatre Festival in Williamstown, Massachusetts. Reeve’s performances earned him a $44 per week role at the Harvard Summer Repertory Theater Company in Cambridge in the following summer. By 1970, he graduated from high school. He had hoped to immediately pursue a career in acting as he had already begun gaining plaudits for his skills. However, following the advice of his mother and step-father, Reeve applied for college and was accepted to a number of schools, including Cornell University which he chose to attend.
While still in college, Christopher Reeve signed to high-powered New York City acting agent, Stark Hesseltine, who helped him get a few summer gigs. Before his third year, Reeve flew to Europe to spend some time in the United Kingdom and France where he watched a lot of theatrical productions. Upon returning to the U.S., and completing his third college year at Cornell Reeve transferred to Julliard where he became classmates with Robin Williams.
In 1974, Christopher Reeve received his bachelor’s degree and then began pursuing acting full time. His first roles were in the Broadway play A Matter of Gravity and in the soap opera Love of Life in 1975. A few years after making his acting debut, Christopher Reeves caught his big break as he was cast to play the leading role of Clark Kent/Superman in Superman (1978), and the rest became history.
What Was The Cause of His Death
Christopher Reeve battled a lot of health issues during his lifetime. As a child, he suffered from asthma and allergies and then from the time he was 16, he began to suffer from a condition known as alopecia areata which causes patches of hair to fall out from a person’s usually healthy head of hair. These conditions however never threatened his life as his first near death experience was when he shattered his first and second vertebrae after landing on his head while horse riding in 1995. The accident left him paralyzed from the neck down and confined him to a wheelchair for the rest of his life.
In the early 2000s, Reeve suffered several infections, including three of which could have been fatal, from his bone marrow. In 2004, after receiving a routine treatment for an infected pressure ulcer that was causing sepsis, Reeve went into cardiac arrest and then a coma in reaction to the antibiotic that was used. He was in a coma for eighteen hours before passing away on the 10th of October, 2004.
Wife and Children
Christopher Reeve was married to Dana Reeve (née Morosini), a theatre and television actress and singer turned disabilities activist. The couple got married on the 11th of April, 1992, just before they welcomed their first and only child together, a son named William Elliot Reeve, on the 7th of June, 1992.
From his relationship with Gae Exton which lasted from 1978 to 1987, Reeve had two other children; Matthew Exton Reeve, who was born on the 20th of December, 1979 and Alexandra Exton Reeve, who was born in December 1983. Matthew Reeve is an Emmy Award-nominated producer and director. He and his sister further served on the board of directors for the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation.