Posted on January 13, 2015
Christopher Reeve stole our hearts in his role as Superman and our hearts broke when he was paralyzed after a horseback riding accident. When he persevered through his adversity and continued to work in Hollywood despite his limitations, we were inspired. Here’s our Christopher Reeve timeline.
Sept. 25, 1952
Christopher Reeve is born in New York City to journalist Barbara Johnson and literature professor Franklin D. Reeve.
His parents divorce. His mother moves him and his brother Benjamin to Princeton, New Jersey.
Begins appearing in school plays and takes piano lessons.
He wins a role in a Gilbert & Sullivan operetta Yeoman of the Guard for Princeton’s professional theater.
Attends a summer apprenticeship at the Williamstown Theater Festival in Massachusetts.
Gets an agent.
Plays Ben Harper in the TV soap opera Love of Life
Attends Juilliard School of Drama where he becomes friends with Robin Williams and studies under John Houseman.
Moves to Los Angeles.
Takes part in the Broadway play, A Matter of Gravity, opposite Katharine Hepburn.
Stars in Gray Lady Down with Charlton Heston.
Dec. 15, 1978
Plays Superman in Superman with Marlon Brando, Gene Hackman, and Margot Kidder. He gains 30 pounds for the role. He later says of the role: “What makes Superman a hero is not that he has power, but that he has the wisdom and the maturity to use the power wisely. From an acting point of view, that’s how I approached the part.”
Gae Exton, his girlfriend at the time, gives birth to son Matthew Reeve.
Stars in Somewhere in Time with Jane Seymour and Christopher Plummer.
June 19, 1981
Stars in Superman II with Gene Hackman and Margot Kidder.
March 19, 1982
Stars in Deathtrap.
Oct. 22, 1982
Stars in Monsignor.
Gae Exton gives brith to daughter Alexandra Reeve.
June 17, 1983
Stars in Superman III with Richard Pryor and Margot Kidder.
March 8, 1985
Stars in The Aviator with Rosanna Arquette.
He says: “Superman is nothing more than a popular retelling of the Christ story, or Greek mythology. It’s an archetype, watered down and made in vivid colors for twelve-year-old’s mentality. It’s pop mythology, which extends to the actor, then seeps over to a demand that that actor reflect the needs of the worshipers. The worship doesn’t only go on in the temples – it goes on in the streets, and restaurants, in magazines. But, you know, I’m from New Jersey, I’m not from Olympus or Krypton, so back off ’cause I can’t take the responsibility.”
Travels to Chile to support 77 Chilean artists (actors and directors) whose lives are threatened by the military dictatorship.
He and Gae Exton break up.
March 20, 1987
Stars in Street Smart with Morgan Freeman.
July 24, 1987
Stars in Superman IV: The Quest for Peace with Gene Hackman, Mariel Hemingway, and Margot Kidder.
Receives an Obie Award from the Walter Briehl Human Rights Foundation.
March 4, 1988
Stars in Switching Channels with Burt Reynolds and Kathleen Turner.
April 11, 1992
Marries Dana Reeve.
Dana gives birth to Will Reeve.
March 20, 1992
Stars in Noises Off … with John Ritter.
Nov. 22, 1992
Stars in Nightmare in the Daylight.
April 18, 1993
Stars in The Sea Wolf with Charles Bronson.
Nov. 5, 1993
Stars in The Remains of the Day with Anthony Hopkins.
Dec. 16, 1994
Stars in Speechless with Michael Keaton.
April 28, 1995
Stars in Village of the Damned with Kirstie Alley.
May 21, 1995
He plays a paralyzed police officer in HBO’s Above Suspicion alongside Dana Reeve.
May 27, 1995
Is thrown from his horse, “Eastern Express,” in the Commonwealth Dressage and Combined Training Association finals at the Commonwealth Park equestrian center in Culpeper, Virginia. He lands on his head, destroying the first and second cervical vertebrae, and is paralyzed.
The Clintons promise him an extra $10 million to spinal cord injury research which they never follow through with.
Aug. 26, 1996
During a speech at the Democratic National Convention he says: “So many of our dreams at first seem impossible, then they seem improbable, and then, when we summon the will, they soon become inevitable.”
Wins an Emmy for Without Pity: A Film About Abilities.
April 15, 1997
Receives a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
April 20, 1997
Directs In the Gloaming with Bridget Fonda and Whoopi Goldberg.
Publishes his autobiography, Still Me.
May 12, 1998
On Late Night With David Letterman he says: “Only my neck muscles were holding my head on … they literally had to put my head back on my body … and they had to make it up. They had never done anything like this before.”
Nov. 22, 1998
Stars in a television remake of Rear Window.
During his testimony to the US House of Representatives: “We live in a time when the words impossible and unsolvable are no longer part of the scientific community’s vocabulary. Each day we move closer to trials that will not just minimize the symptoms of disease and injury but eliminate them.”
Feb. 1, 2000
In A Chat with Christopher Reeve on ABCNews.com, he is asked what it’s like to see himself in movies he made before the accident: “That’s a very good and sensitive question. I think my reaction is mixed. I sometimes wish desperately that I could turn the clock back and be young and athletic once again. But I also am very grateful that people still enjoy many of those films. I think it’s important for me not to dwell on the past. I try to live in the present and plan for the future and am grateful that I still have opportunities that are very rewarding.”
He breaks his leg after falling from his wheelchair.
May 3, 2002
Christopher and Dana Reeve Paralysis Resource Center is founded. The first center in the United States that is soley devoted to teaching paralyzed people to live on their own.
Feb. 25, 2003
Plays Dr. Swann in the “Rosetta” episode of the TV series Smallville.
April 4, 2004
Appears as Dr. Swann for a second time on Smallville, in an episode entitled “Legacy.”
In an interview with Barbara Walters, he says: “I am getting older and time is ticking. The more time goes by the more I feel a sense of urgency and I can accept anything except for complacency.”
Oct. 9, 2004
Goes into a coma after a pressure wounds leads to a severe systemic infection.
Oct. 10, 2004
Dies at Northern Westchester Hospital after suffering cardiac arrest brought on by the infection.
Oct. 25, 2004
A&E airs his second directorial project, The Brooke Ellison Story. It stars Lacy Chabert as the first quadriplegic to graduate from Harvard University.
Feb. 23, 2005
In an episode of Smallville called “Sacred,” the character of Dr. Swann dies.
May 18, 2005
The State University of New Jersey in New Brunsick awards him an Honorary Doctorate of Letters.
May 20, 2005
Stony Brook University awards him an honorary degree.
Aug. 9, 2005
Dana Reeve announces that she has lung cancer, though she was never a smoker. She says: “Now, more than ever, I feel Chris with me as I face this challenge … As always, I look to him as the ultimate example of defying the odds with strength, courage, and hope in the face of life’s adversities.”
March 6, 2006
Dana Reeve dies of lung cancer.