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What Happened to Christopher Reeve? Accident, Death

Best known for his role as Superman in the 1978 superhero film and its three sequels, Christopher Reeve was a hero both on the screen and in his personal life. After suffering life-altering injuries in a tragic accident, the actor dedicated his career to activism and charity work. Keep scrolling for more details on his life, career and death. 

How Did Christopher Reeve Land the Superman Role?

Superman was the role of a lifetime for Christopher, who had done some work in TV prior to portraying the beloved DC Comics character. 

“I met Christopher Reeve in New York. I had gotten a call from someone who said, ‘There’s a kid who’s terrific. Would you like to see him?’” Superman director Richard Donner told Closer in September 2019. “He was about 20 or 30 pounds lighter; his hair was a sandy color and he had dressed in the burliest clothes he could find to make him look good. He just had this great look, and I gave him my glasses to wear, and he looked so much like the part it was unbelievable.”

What Happened to Christopher Reeve? Accident, Death
Warner Bros/Dc Comics/Kobal/Shutterstock

Though other names were thrown into the ring to play the character, Donner knew Christopher had a lot of potential. 

“Nobody wanted to go with him because he was an unknown, but the idea to me was that we should go with an unknown so that you could make it believable,” he continued. “It ended up just that.”

In between filming Superman and Superman II, the New York native acted in 1980’s Somewhere in Time.

“I like the character,” Christopher told The New York Times in 1980. “A man who’s incomplete. He has all the material things he needs, all the comforts, but he’s missing a passionate commitment to something other than himself and goes in search of it. It’s an absolutely honest attempt to create an old-fashioned romance. It’s based on love rather than on sex or X-rated bedroom scenes.” 

After wrapping Superman IV: The Quest for Peace in 1987, Christopher waved farewell to playing the titular character. In the years that followed, he continued to make acting appearances on TV and in films like The Sea Wolf, Morning Glory, Frasier and Speechless.

What Happened to Christopher Reeve?

On May 27, 1995, Christopher, an avid equestrian, was thrown from his horse during a competition. The impact of his fall shattered two vertebrae in his spine and left him paralyzed from the waist down. He was confined to a wheelchair for the rest of his life and started the Christopher Reeve Foundation to fund spinal cord and paralysis research. 

What Happened to Christopher Reeve? Accident, Death
Bei/Shutterstock

Did Christopher Reeve Have Children? 

The Rear Window actor welcomed two children, Matthew and Alexandra, with his former partner Gae Exton. In 1992, he married actress Dana Reeve. The pair welcomed one child together, son Will Reeve, in 1992. 

What Was Christopher Reeve’s Cause of Death? 

Christopher died on October 10, 2004, at the age of 52 from heart failure brought on by an infection. Dana died from lung cancer at age 44 in March 2006, just 17 months after her husband’s death.

After losing both of his parents, Will continues to advocate for the charity renamed the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation, established to help families affected by paralysis and advance spinal cord injury research. The Good Morning America correspondent feels the presence of his late parents around him. 

“I feel it every day,” he told Closer in November 2019. “Anyone who’s lost someone you love; you’ll get a reminder in ways big and small every day. I get a reminder in the way I live my life, by continuing to be my own person and have those moments when I say to myself, ‘Oh, that’s something my dad would have done.’”

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