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October 11, 2004

Christopher Reeve, Former Equity Councillor, Dead at 52

Christopher Reeve, the actor who was best known as Superman, died October 10th at the age of 52. Reeve served as a member of Equity Council from 1983 to 1990.

Reeve went into cardiac arrest October 9 while at his home in Pound Ridge, slipping into a coma. He died the following day. Reeve suffered a spinal cord injury in a riding accident ten years ago and used a wheelchair and breathing apparatus.

A 1974 graduate of Cornell University, Reeve continued his studies at Julliard under the legendary John Houseman. He made his Broadway debut opposite Katharine Hepburn in A MATTER OF GRAVITY. Reeve created the role of Kenneth Talley in the Off Broadway and Broadway productions of Lanford Wilson’s FIFTH OF JULY. He appeared in the revival of THE MARRIAGE OF FIGARO at Circle in the Square. His Broadway credits include the Public’s THE WINTER’S TALE, MY LIFE and A.R. Gurney’s LOVE LETTERS. A regular at Williamstown, Reeve appeared in THE ROYAL FAMILY, RICHARD COREY, HOLIDAY, GALILEO, CAMINO REAL and THE GREEKS. In London he appeared in THE ASPERN PAPERS with Vanessa Redgrave and Dame Wendy Hiller.

In addition to his big screen triumph in “Superman” (1978), he headlined the sequels “Superman II,” “Superman III,” and “Superman IV: The Quest for Peace.” Reeve starred in the film version of “Deathtrap” and the romantic film, “Somewhere in Time.”

For television, Reeve played the wheelchair-bound lead in the 1998 remake of “Rear Window.” He also appeared as a wealthy researcher who discovers the secret of a young Clark Kent in the popular series “Smallville.” He made his directorial debut with “In the Gloaming,” which received five Emmy nominations including Best Director.

In recent years, Reeve became a powerful spokesman for stem cell research. He had broken his neck when he was thrown from a horse during an equestrian competition in May, 1995. Rather than giving up, Reeve lobbied for more research on spinal cord injuries and stem cell research. He also told Oprah Winfrey in a recent interview he believed his hard work, determination and loving family would result in his ability to one day walk again.

In 1999, Reeve became the Chairman of the Board of the Christopher Reeve Paralysis Foundation (CRPF). CRPF, a national nonprofit organization, supports reseach to develop effective treatments and a cure for paralysis caused by spinal cord injury and other central nervous system disorders. As Vice Chair of the National Organization on Disability, he championed quality of life issues for the disabled and helped pass the 1999 Work Incentives Improvement Act, which allows people with disabilities to return to work and still receive disability benefits.

Mr.Reeve is survived by his wife, actress Dana Reeve; his mother, Barbara Johnson; his father, Franklin Reeve; his brother, Benjamin Reeve; son, Will and his two children from his relationship with Gae Exton, Matthew, 25, and Alexandra, 21.





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