The Superman star died of heart failure in 2004 at the age of 52.
Christopher Reeve was a renowned actor best known as Superman in the iconic film franchise. His son Will recently paid tribute to his late father on what would have been his 70th birthday. Will shared a photo of the Superman actor on set, captioning it: 70 🤯 Happy birthday, Big Cheese!
While the superhero movie gave Reeve superstar status, tragedy struck when the actor was just 42 years old. He was thrown from a horse during an equestrian competition roadblock test in 1995. The accident left him paralyzed from the neck down. While all hope seemed lost, Dana, Reeve's wife, gave him the push to not let this bring him down. She told him, "You're still you. And I love you," and that gave the actor the motivation he needed to "grab on to life" according to The Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation.
In a sense, Reeve became a real-life superhero working hard for others like him. The actor founded the charity organization in 1999 that continues to be committed "to curing spinal cord injury by advancing innovative research and improving quality of life for individuals and families impacted by paralysis," according to its official website. The actor went on to travel "around the world to meet scientists, public representatives, entrepreneurs, and philanthropists for the cause, according to his foundation. In his efforts, he "became the voice, and above all the beacon of hope, of all those who live with paralysis," said Peter Wilderotter, former president and CEO of the foundation.
Just nine years after he suffered the horseback riding accident, the actor tragically passed away due to heart failure in 2004. He was just 52 years old at the time. He was father to three children: son Matthew and daughter Alexandra, whom he welcomed with his former partner Gae Exton. He and his wife Dana had a son together named Will. Dana died of lung cancer in 2006, reports PEOPLE. Their son believes that both his father and mother's legacies are everlasting. He was just 3 years old when his father was paralyzed in 1995, and 11 when he died. “I think his legacy is never going to go away and think that is a responsibility that I feel, to carry his and my mother’s legacy on for the rest of my life and hopefully beyond that,” Will told PEOPLE. “I think that the foundation is one way, one tangible way, that his legacy and my mom’s legacy will always live on. And I think the way that I, and my siblings, live our lives is another way. And I think that his impact is felt by the millions of lives that he touched.” The 30-year-old news anchor also believes that his father "had an impact on the world well beyond his fleeting fame for being in movies. And I think that he was a change agent in the world, and those are the people who last, and that is why he has lasted.”
Cover Image Source: (L) Photo by Ziv Koren-Pool/Getty Images (R) Photo by Bryan Bedder/Getty Images for The Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation