Christopher Reeve's body never really was super.
But his spirit soared to the heavens, his determination bent the will of others and his heart was stronger than steel.
The dashing actor, perfectly suited for the cinematic role of Superman, said the character was an inspiration. But that was make-believe. In real life, it was the actor who became the inspiration, valiantly defying paralysis and its expectations and emotional toll, while urging the world on toward a cure.
He pushed the government to do more for spinal cord injuries, and his Christopher Reeve Paralysis Foundation was singularly responsible for funneling more than $42 million to top researchers.
More importantly, he never gave up. Another paralyzed man once said, "The accident broke my neck; it didn't break me." Christopher Reeve was made of such stuff. In his public appearances and his private struggles, he gave hope to millions and showed by example the truly super powers of attitude.
He was determined to walk again and, indeed, had increased the feeling in his spine and left leg. But this past weekend, a little more than nine years after his near-fatal fall from a horse in an equestrian event at Culpeper, Va., a systemic infection from a pressure wound led to fatal heart failure at age 52.
Though the public identified Mr. Reeve most closely with his Superman role, he sought to buck typecasting by taking on more challenging parts, such as a scheming playwright in "Deathtrap," and a lovestruck time traveler in "Somewhere in Time."
Perhaps more famous than the roles Mr. Reeve played were the roles he turned down. By rejecting the lead parts for the movies "The Bounty," "Body Heat," "American Gigolo," "The Running Man" and "Total Recall," he helped propel Mel Gibson, William Hurt, Richard Gere and Arnold Schwarzenegger to superstardom.
Though he never completely managed to "escape the cape," as he put it, Mr. Reeve reinvented himself into a better kind of hero strong enough to lift an entire planet and fly to new heights of greatness.
The Augusta (Ga.) Chronicle - Oct. 11
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