In Memoriam: "Superman's" Christopher Reeve

Christopher Reeve as "Superman"
September 25, 2020 - 16:00 / Cynthia Springer

Christopher Reeve as "Superman" was a favorite among many superhero fanatics. He portrayed the famed DC character in 1978, earning himself a BAFTA Award! Find out what Christopher Reeve's life was like before Superman...

Christopher Reeve as the marvelous "Superman" is what garnered him mass attention in Hollywood. However, did you know he comes from a prestigious family of academics? Born on September 25th, 1952, Reeve was the child of Barbara Pitney Lamb and scholar Franklin D'Olier Reeve.

The beginnings: Christopher Reeve as "Superman"

Although his parents divorced when he was just 4 years old, he excelled academically and already had a strong interest in the performing arts. By the 1970s, Reeve graduated from Cornell University receiving his Bachelor of Arts degree. 

Christopher Reeve as "Superman"

By 1978, fresh out of college and the New York acting scene (where he previously studied briefly at the performing art school, Juilliard), Christopher Reeve was asked to audition as "Superman". Out of the many applicants, he won his spot! He starred opposite Marlon Brando and Gene Hackman, and the movie would earn an incredible $300 million worldwide!

Upon earning the role, Reeve had received a 300-page manuscript. He committed himself to the role by training extensively and forming himself into both "Clark Kent" and "Superman". With this success, he also starred in Superman II, III, and Superman IV: The Quest for Peace. 

Christopher Reeve at the 1997 Emmy Awards

While his role as "Superman" was surely his greatest achievement in film, both he and the film were nominated for and won several awards, including: 

  • BAFTA Award for Most Promising Newcomer to Leading Film Roles (1978)
  • Saturn Award Nomination for Best Actor (1978)
  • Academy Award for Best Visual Effects (1978)
  • Saturn Award for Best Science Fiction Film (1978, 1982)

Tragically, Reeve was severely injured in a horse-riding accident, leaving him paralyzed from the neck down. He passed away on October 10, 2004, at the age of 52 due to cardiac arrest which led him into a coma. He is survived by his three children.

Considering the many roles of superheroes there are now, Christopher Reeve as "Superman" was, and still remains to be, one of our favorites.