Christopher Reeve’s legacy and his ties to Jersey
Actor and advocate for the disabled, Christopher Reeve, was born on September 25, 1952. While he was born in New York, he moved to Princeton at an early age and grew up there. He attended Princeton Day School where he excelled academically and athletically. He went on to attend both Cornell and Julliard (where he became friends with Robin Williams) before starting his career as an actor.
Reeve performed mainly in theater at first and in 1977 he got the film role that would make him a superstar. He was cast to play Superman in a big screen adaptation of the DC superhero alongside heavyweights like Marlon Brando and Gene Hackman. The film was a commercial and critical success and spawned three sequels. While continuing to work in theater, he starred in films such as Somewhere in Time and Deathtrap. He learned to ride horses for a film role and developed a passion for riding. While competing in an equestrian contest in 1995, his horse refused to jump, stopping short and throwing Reeve off the horse. He landed headfirst, damaging two of his vertebrae. The spinal damage paralyzed him from the shoulders down. He underwent intensive rehabilitation at several locations, including the Kessler Rehabilitation Center in West Orange. He spent the rest of his life in a wheelchair and became a vocal advocate for the disabled. He established the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation to further research into spinal injuries and improve the lives of disabled people; it is headquartered in Short Hills and you can learn more about it here.
He continued to work in show business, both as an actor and as a director, garnering Golden Globes and Screen Actors’ Guild awards for his efforts. He also penned a best-selling book, Still Me, his autobiography.
On October 9, 2004, he went into cardiac arrest and died 18 hours later. His body was cremated and his ashes scattered.