I read the news today via the ticker on “Good Morning, America”. Christopher Reeve had passed away on Sunday. I wasn’t sure I read it correctly, but sadly I had. And I actually felt my heart sink a little bit.
That dream he had made a visual reality in the controversial commercial that showed him walking will never come to pass. The man who had come to embody a iconic comic book character was really gone.
This has been a dark week for the entertainment industry. First Janet Leigh, the legendary showering heroine, passed on. Then the man who got a lot of respect, regardless of his famous line, Rodney Dangerfield, joined the cosmic design. Now, Christopher Reeve.
Reeve’s passing touches me because he was Superman. Regardless of who may have inherited the role after him, such as Dean Cain and Tom Welling, Reeve was and forever will be Superman. He was the ideal recreation of the comic book drawing in blue tights. A generation of movie fans have lost their hero, who became so much more so not because of his work on screen, but for his work off it.
After the accident which left Reeve trapped in a wheelchair, he never wavered from putting himself front and center to fight for his future. He promoted science and research to help himself, but also to help thousands of others just like him. People who had their life traumatically and permanently altered. Their ability to walk robbed from them.
How could you not respect the man?
Reeve had become a real hero, overcoming his disability. He continued to act, appearing in the Rear Window TV movie, as well as his recurring role on Smallville, the latest Superman series.
Honestly, I sometimes found it difficult to watch him in his earlier work. One of the smartest, funniest comedies I’d seen in years was Noises Off, which also featured John Ritter, another actor who I respected greatly who died last year. But seeing Reeve walking and running, it bothered me a bit knowing what eventually happened to him.
Reeve was hilarious has the studly, yet bumbling leading man. His performance in that film was brilliant, but I always felt that Reeve showed how talented he really was in “Bump in the Night”, where he starred as a pedophile who kidnaps a young boy. I happened to catch this on cable one afternoon, and was incredibly impressed with his performance. It was powerful and real. Reeve had talent, and it shined in that TV movie.
Occasionally the passing of a movie star has an effect on me. Not often, but it happens from time to time. I was upset when Jim Henson passed, it was tragic when John Candy left us, and I was saddened when John Ritter suddenly died. And with Reeve, I was similarly troubled. I guess because with the loss of these people, society loses something. Something good. Something that added to humanity, be it through laughter or hope.
I suppose the best thing we can say is that while these people may no longer be among us, they will never really die. They will continue to live on our television screens and in the memories they left behind for each of us who grew up watching them.