Happy B-Day, Superman

Posted: September 25, 2012 in celebrities, cinema, movies
Tags: , ,

One of my most unforgetable movie experiences in my childhood happened in 1977 when my mother took me to see “Superman”, directed by Richard Donner. Some years later she took me again to see the sequel “Superman 2”. It was 1980. One year later, on July, on board a plane going to New York, was shown a movie called “Somewhere in Time”. I was 11 year-old.

The movies are one of my greatest passions. Not only the movies, but the people who work hard to make dreams come true. Well, one of them was Christopher Reeve. He made me believe the man could fly. And all people in the world.

Since October 2004, when Christopher left this world, he flies in the eternity. But eternity is not for everyone…


Christopher D’Olier Reeve (September 25, 1952 – October 10, 2004) was an American actor, film director, producer, screenwriter, author and activist. He achieved stardom for his acting achievements, in particular his motion-picture portrayal of the fictional superhero Superman.

Through casting director Lynn Stalmaster’s persistent pleading, a meeting between director Richard Donner, producer Ilya Salkind and Christopher Reeve was set in January 1977 at the Sherry Netherland Hotel on Fifth Avenue. Reeve immediately flew to London for a screen test, and on the way was told that Marlon Brando was going to play Jor-El and Gene Hackman was going to play Lex Luthor. Reeve still did not think he had much of a chance. Though he was 6 feet, 4 inches tall, he was a self-described “skinny WASP”.

Christopher Reeve later said, “By the late 1970s the masculine image had changed… Now it was acceptable for a man to show gentleness and vulnerability. I felt that the new Superman ought to reflect that contemporary male image.” He based his portrayal of Clark Kent on Cary Grant in his role in “Bringing Up Baby”.

Reeve was a talented all-around athlete. Portraying the role of Superman would be a stretch for the young actor, but he was tall enough for the role and had the necessary blue eyes and handsome features. However, his physique was slim. He refused to wear fake muscles under the suit, and instead went through an intense two-month training regimen supervised by former British weightlifting champion David Prowse, the man under the Darth Vader suit in the “Star Wars” films.

Reeve’s first role after 1978’s Superman was as Richard Collier in the 1980 romantic fantasy “Somewhere in Time”. Jane Seymour played Elise McKenna, his love interest. The film not doing well at the box office was Reeve’s first public disappointment.

Almost 10 years after “Somewhere in Time” was released it became a cult film, thanks to screenings on cable networks and video rentals; its popularity began to grow, vindicating the belief of the creative team. Jane Seymour became a personal friend of Reeve and in 1996 named her twin son Kristopher in his honor.

Much of “Superman II” was filmed at the same time as the first film. After most of the footage had been shot, the producers had a disagreement with director Richard Donner over various matters, including money and special effects, and they mutually parted ways.

Richard Donner was replaced by director Richard Lester, who had the script changed and reshot some footage. The cast was unhappy, but Reeve later said that he liked Lester and considered “Superman II” to be his favorite of the series.

“Superman III”, released in 1983, was filmed entirely by Lester. Reeve believed that the producers ruined it by turning it into a Richard Pryor comedy.

Christopher Reeve missed Richard Donner and believed that “Superman III”‘s only saving grace was the junkyard scene in which evil Superman fights Clark Kent in an internal battle.

“Superman IV: The Quest for Peace” was released in 1987. After “Superman III”, Reeve vowed that he was done with Superman. However, he accepted the role on the condition that he would have partial creative control over the script. The nuclear disarmament plot was his idea.

The production rights were given to Cannon Films, which cut the budget in half to $17 million. The film was both a critical failure and a box office bomb, becoming the lowest-grossing Superman-film to date. Reeve later said, “the less said about Superman IV the better.”

On May 27, 1995, Reeve became a quadriplegic after being thrown from a horse during an equestrian competition in Virginia. He required a wheelchair and breathing apparatus for the rest of his life. He lobbied on behalf of people with spinal-cord injuries and for human embryonic stem cell research, founding the Christopher Reeve Foundation and co-founding the Reeve-Irvine Research Center.

In 1973, Christopher Reeve and Robin Williams were the only students selected for Juilliard’s Advanced Program. Williams and Reeve developed a close friendship. William Reeve, Dana Reeve, Christopher Reeve and Robin Williams at Tribeca Film Festival, 7, may 2004.

On October 10, 2004, Reeve died of cardiac arrest at the age of 52. His wife, Dana Reeve, headed the Christopher Reeve Foundation after his death. She was diagnosed with lung cancer on August 9, 2005, and died on March 6, 2006. They are survived by their son, William, and Reeve’s son Matthew and daughter Alexandra, both from his relationship with Gae Exton. Matthew and Alexandra now serve on the board of directors for the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation.

There are many superheroes on screen now, but there will be only one Superman.

Read more on Wikipedia:

1978 Gray Lady Down
1978 Superman
1980 Somewhere in Time
1980 Superman II
1982 Deathtrap
1982 Monsignor
1983 Superman III
1984 The Bostonians
1985 The Aviator
1985 Anna Karenina
1987 Street Smart
1987 Superman IV: The Quest for Peace
1988 Switching Channels
1988 The Great Escape 2:Untold Story
1990 The Rose and the Jackal
1991 Bump in the Night (TV)
1992 Noises Off
1992 Nightmare in the Daylight Sean
1993 The Remains of the Day
1993 Morning Glory (TV)
1993 Frasier Leonard (voice)
1994 Speechless
1995 Village of the Damned
1995 Above Suspicion (TV)
1996 Without Pity: A Film About Abilities Narrator
1996 A Step Toward Tomorrow
1998 Rear Window (TV)
2006 Everyone’s Hero (director) (executive producer)
2006 Superman II: The Richard Donner Cut
2007 Christopher Reeve: Hope in Motion Himself



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