In 1977, DC published a series of reports on the then up-coming Superman movie. Photograph reproduction being what it was in those days, I recall a not very flattering picture of Christopher Reeve, a practically unknown soap opera and stage actor, standing beside a mound of entries for the You-Could-Be-In-The-Superman-Movie-Contest. He looked like a handsome football player, but not one to play the World’s Greatest Superhero. Then a few months later an official still was released of Reeve as Superman, and that awesome photo changed everything for me. He had become the Man of Steel.
Superman the Movie was released in December of 1978. I must have seen the movie eight times that month, three times in one day. Not only was Reeve a spectacular Superman, he was the perfect Clark Kent. The movie itself had its flaws, but there was no doubt that Reeve was the right choice to be Superman. Reeve would go on to play the Man of Steel in three sequels, all of diminishing quality. But he was always the perfect Superman.
In 1995, tragedy struck, and Christopher Reeve was paralyzed. He then became a real-life superman. He became an activist for spinal cord research. He co-founded the Christopher Reeve Paralysis Foundation. He was an advocate of stem cell research. His efforts in his own recovery, and in aiding others like him, became known the world over. He even resumed his acting career, and appeared twice on Smallville.
Our world is a little sadder this week, a bit more reflective, and I’d like to think a lot more inspired. And right now, Christopher Reeve is flying.