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Christopher Reeve Biography

Nilesh Parekh
Christopher Reeve was the Superman of the reel world, and the Man of Steel of the real world. Let us have an insight into the journey of his life through the following piece of information.
Christopher Reeve, who glazed the screen playing the role of Superman, was born on September 25, 1952, in New York to Franklin Reeve (who was a writer and a professor) and Barbara Johnson (who was a journalist). Near 1956, when Christopher was just four years of age, his father divorced Barbara and left his home.
Christopher, his elder brother Benjamin, and Barbara moved to Princeton, New Jersey where she married Tristam Johnson, an investment banker, a couple of years later.
However, Chris and his elder brother were still allowed to meet Franklin Reeve, and they spent high quality time with him whenever they met. Their father always tried to teach his children good things whenever he met them.


Christopher was an average student during his school and high-school days, but he was always very interested in acting. He even had opportunities to work in plays and dramas staged in his school and at the local theater. He was a member of almost all the clubs in his school, and was also a member of the ice hockey team (which became his favorite game). When Reeve was 15, he got an apprenticeship at the Williams Town Theater Festival, Massachusetts.

College and Initial Struggle

After finishing graduation, he entered the Cornell University for further studies. Chris had found an agent who helped him manage his studies as well as his work as a professional actor. At Cornell University, Reeve studied 'Theaters in Britain and France', and also secured a post in the Old Vic Theater in London.
Along with his study, Reeve worked in many dramas and plays, and performed at various renowned theaters. He gathered acting experience through a variety of roles.
His passion for acting helped him in securing a position in the list of the students who were selected to study at New York's Juilliard School of Performing Arts (the other person to get selected was Robin Williams).
At Juilliard, Chris studied under the guidance of John Houseman. During his days at Juilliard, he accepted a role in a television serial (a soap opera) to support his studies. He also got an opportunity to appear for an audition, from where he was selected for a role in a play 'A Matter of Gravity', which he was very eager to perform.
His performance in the play and the serial helped him gain popularity, and his work was liked so much that he started getting more and more offers for interesting roles. This resulted in his stepping out of the Juilliard School even before he could complete his final year.

The 'Superman' Title

From year 1976, Chris started getting offers for roles (even though a few of them were for small roles) in movies. Gray Lady Down was the first movie he got a small role in. When he was in New York for the production of My Life, he got an opportunity to appear for an audition for a role in the movie Superman, in 1978.
He continued to give performances in movies and plays, and accepted the roles he was interested in rather than the offers that came from big banners and big directors.
He turned down many offers in some small plays and movies, which offered him some off-bit character roles. He was passionate about acting, rather than the success he could have attained through his talent.

Political Involvement

Reeve was not only an actor; he also played an important role in active politics. He was a democrat, and a strong supporter of democratic thinking. He was a member of many clubs, groups, and organizations. In his lifetime, he took part in activities, such as protests, demonstrations, rallies, etc., which were in public interest.
He even won a special Obie Award in 1988, for his successful efforts in freeing 77 artists from the death trap by the Pinochet Government. He was also an environment and animal rights activist.

The Accident

Further in May 1995, while riding a horse, Reeve couldn't release his hands from the horse's bridle, and fell down on his head. He was instantly paralyzed on the spot because of the injuries he received to the upper vertebra. After that accident, he was left immobilized, and his life became dependent on others.
He was in complete stress. During this tough time, his wife Dana helped him face all that was waiting for him ahead in his life. He came up as a new hope for those who were facing the same situation. He decided to help those who were suffering spinal injuries; he helped in establishing help centers, awareness camps, etc., for those people.
He was also selected as the Vice Chairman of 'The National Organization On Disability', in 1997. From 1996 to 2004, he wrote a couple of books, one of which was his autobiography (which was a best seller).
The Superman of the silver screen, who was termed as the 'Man of Steel' in real life, died on 10 October, 2004.