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A Legend Never to Be Forgotten — Rest in Peace Christopher Reeve
Born in New York City and raised in Princeton, New Jersey, Reeve discovered a passion for acting and the theater at the age of nine. He studied at Cornell University and the Juilliard School and made his Broadway debut in 1976. After his acclaimed performances in Superman and Superman II, Reeve declined many roles in action movies, choosing instead to work in small films and plays with more complex characters. He later appeared in critically successful films such as The Bostonians (1984), Street Smart (1987), and The Remains of the Day (1993), and in the plays Fifth of July on Broadway and The Aspern Papers in London’s West End.
On May 27, 1995, Reeve broke his neck when he was thrown from a horse during an equestrian competition in Culpeper, Virginia. The injury paralyzed him from the shoulders down, and he used a wheelchair and ventilator for the rest of his life. Reeve returned to creative work, directing In the Gloaming (1997) and acting in the television remake of Rear Window (1998). He also made several appearances in the Superman-themed television series Smallville, and wrote two autobiographical books, Still Me and Nothing is Impossible. Over the course of his career, Reeve received a BAFTA Award, a Screen Actors Guild Award, an Emmy Award, and a Grammy Award.
Beginning in the 1980s, Reeve was an activist for environmental and human-rights causes and for artistic freedom of expression. After his accident, he lobbied for spinal injury research, including human embryonic stem cell research, and for better insurance coverage for people with disabilities. His advocacy work included leading the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation and co-founding the Reeve-Irvine Research Center. Reeve died on October 10, 2004.
Superman: The Movie
Superman (stylized as Superman: The Movie) is a 1978 superhero film based on the character by DC Comics. An international co-production between the United Kingdom, Switzerland, Panama and the United States, it was supervised by Alexander and Ilya Salkind, produced by their partner Pierre Spengler and written by Mario Puzo from a story by Puzo, and is the first installment in the Superman film series. Directed by Richard Donner, the film features an ensemble cast including Marlon Brando, Gene Hackman, Christopher Reeve, Jeff East, Margot Kidder, Glenn Ford, Phyllis Thaxter, Jackie Cooper, Trevor Howard, Marc McClure, Terence Stamp, Valerie Perrine, Ned Beatty, Jack O’Halloran, Maria Schell, and Sarah Douglas. It depicts the origin of Superman (Reeve), including his infancy as Kal-El of Krypton, son of Jor-El (Brando) and his youthful years in the rural town of Smallville. Disguised as reporter Clark Kent, he adopts a mild-mannered disposition in Metropolis and develops a romance with Lois Lane (Kidder) whilst battling the villainous Lex Luthor (Hackman).
Ilya had the idea of a Superman film in 1973 and after a difficult process with DC Comics, the Salkinds and Spengler bought the rights to the character the following year. Several directors, most notably Guy Hamilton, and screenwriters (Mario Puzo, David and Leslie Newman, and Robert Benton), were associated with the project before Richard Donner was hired to direct. Tom Mankiewicz was drafted in to rewrite the script and was given a “creative consultant” credit. It was decided to film both Superman and its sequel Superman II (1980) simultaneously, with principal photography beginning in March 1977 and ending in October 1978. Tensions arose between Donner and the producers, and a decision was made to stop filming the sequel, of which 75 percent had already been completed, and finish the first film.
The most expensive film made up to that point, with a budget of $55 million, Superman was released in December 1978 to critical and financial success; its worldwide box office earnings of $300 million made it the second-highest-grossing release of the year. It received praise for Reeve’s performance and John Williams‘ musical score, and was nominated for three Academy Awards, including Best Film Editing, Best Music (Original Score), and Best Sound, and received a Special Achievement Academy Award for Visual Effects. Groundbreaking in its use of special effects and science fiction/fantasy storytelling, the film’s legacy presaged the mainstream popularity of Hollywood’s superhero film franchises. In 2017, Superman was selected for preservation by the Library of Congress‘s National Film Registry.