Christopher Reeve

On this date in 1952, Christopher Reeve was born in New York, N.Y. His acting career had an early start at the McCarter Theatre in New Jersey when he was 9. Reeve graduated from Cornell University with a degree in music theory and English, and later attended the Juilliard School of Performing Arts. Reeve became a prolific theater actor, most notably performing in the Broadway play, “A Matter of Gravity” (1976), along with Katharine Hepburn.

Although Reeve acted in about 150 plays, he is most famous for his films — especially the immensely popular “Superman” (1978) and its three sequels, in which Reeve played the title role. His other films include “Somewhere in Time” (1980), “The Aviator” (1985) and “Village of the Damned” (1995).

Reeve appeared in numerous television shows such as “Smallville” and “Sesame Street” and he directed the film “In the Gloaming” (1997). He married Dana Morosini in 1992 and they had one son, William, born in 1992. Reeve also had two children with Gae Exton: Matthew, born in 1979, and Alexandra, born in 1983.

In 1995, he was paralyzed from the neck down after a horseback riding accident that injured his spinal cord. Following his paralysis, he became a disability activist who narrated the documentary “Without Pity: A Film About Abilities” (1996). Reeve was appointed Chairman of the American Paralysis Association in 1996, the same year that he and his wife founded the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation, which funds spinal cord research.

“It’s frightening to me, the organized religion,” Reeve told Charlie Rose in a 2002 interview when he spoke about his childhood fear of church and its images of a violent god. Reeve added, “My father was not religious at all, so I really did not bother with questions of faith and spirituality.” He became a Unitarian Universalist after his accident. He died at age 52 after an antibiotic for an infection sent him into cardiac arrest and a coma. (D. 2004)

Freedom From Religion Foundation