Christopher D’Olier Reeve (1952-2004) – Actor & Activist
Christopher Reeve was an American actor, film director and producer, author, and activist. Reeve was born to parents with strong literary backgrounds, however, Reeve knew as a child that he would be an actor. At the age of eight, Reeve performed in school plays, and at nine, he was chosen to be in a Gilbert & Sullivan operetta, Yeoman of the Guard, for Princeton’s professional theater, the McCarter Theatre. Reeve got a summer apprenticeship at the Williamstown Theater Festival in Massachusetts when he was fifteen, and the following year he had an agent. While enrolled at Cornell University, he studied abroad in Britain and France, strengthening his skills as an actor. In lieu of his final year at Cornell, Reeve and Robin Williams were accepted to advanced standing at New York’s famous Juilliard School of Performing Arts, where they were taught by the renowned John Houseman. After dropping out of Juilliard because of expenses, Reeve acted in a variety of TV shows until his big break came in 1978 when he played the super hero in the movie Superman.
In May 1995, Reeve became a quadriplegic after being thrown from a horse during an equestrian competition in Culpeper, Virginia. He would now be required to have a wheelchair and a breathing apparatus to survive. Instead of giving in to his illness, he chose to fight it and try to find a cure for himself and others. In July 2003, driven by his continuing frustration with the pace of stem cell research in the U.S., Reeve traveled to Israel at the invitation of the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs. While there, Reeve visited ALYN Hospital, the Weizman Institute of Science, and Technion-Israel Institute of Technology. Reeve was inspired by the dozens of Israeli patients who had undergone groundbreaking recovery processes and made remarkable progress. He returned home more determined to spread his knowledge to others. Reeve co-founded the Reeve-Irvine Research Center, which is now one of the leading spinal cord research centers in the world, as well as the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation to accelerate research through funding, and to use grants to improve the quality of life for people with disabilities. The Foundation to date has given more than $65 million for research, and more than $8.5 million in quality-of-life grants. The Foundation has also funded a new technology called “Locomotor Training” that uses a treadmill to re-teach the spinal cord how to send signals to the legs to walk, which has helped several paralyzed patients today.
We honor Christopher Reeve because his charitable work makes him a legacy champ. If you want to be a Legacy Champ in your own special way, then contact The Mendel Law Firm, L.P. for a free initial consultation on estate planning, trust planning, and/or probate issues.