Google Doodle honors Christopher Reeve, Superman actor and humanitarian

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 Christopher Reeve is largely remembered for his flights on screen while wearing a red hat and sporting a giant S across his chest. But it is his later off-screen work, while hoping to walk again, that solidified him as a hero.

Google Doodle honors Christopher Reeve

His sensitive portrayal of Superman helped make the 1978 film a blockbuster that set the stage for a wave of superhero movies. Years later, after an equestrian accident left him paralyzed, he used his star power to raise awareness for the disabled.

From any angle, he was a hero to millions. To honor Reeve's legacy, Google will dedicate Saturday's doodle to the actor, director and humanitarian on his 69th birthday.

Born in New York City on September 25, 1952, Reeve earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Cornell before being selected to study acting in an advanced program at the Juilliard School under actor and director John Houseman. After two years of acting in plays and soap operas, Reeve auditioned for the role of Superman, outplaying over 200 actors.

With his coal-black hair, blue eyes and chiseled face, 6-foot-4 Reeve was the image of Superman in the big-budget movie. He reprized the role in three sequels during the 1980s, proving that there was an appetite for superhero movies and paving the way for the big Batman film starring Michael Keaton later that decade, and eventually the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Although he was in dozens of other movies, he is most associated with his Superman performance, and to millions of movie fans, he was Superman.

This became the case for millions after a 1995 equestrian accident, leaving Reeve paralyzed from the bottom of the neck. Even though doctors called the injury one of the worst possible, Reeve showed patience, resetting expectations of what a quadriplegic could do, and he vowed that he would one day walk again.

When a newspaper reported that Reeve begged his wife to let him die, Reeve angrily denied it. "I have not given up," he wrote. "I will never give up."

After his accident, Reeve became a powerful advocate for increased funding for people with disabilities and for medical research. He and his wife founded the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation, an organization dedicated to healing spinal cord injury by advancing research. He lobbied Congress to expand embryonic stem cell research, arguing that this was his best chance to give him and others like him a chance to recover.

Reeve told the Los Angeles Times, "I think facing challenges is a great motivator because so many people with disabilities allow it to be a major factor in their lives, and I refuse to allow disability to determine it." That's how I live my life." years after his accident. "I don't mean to be reckless, but setting a goal that actually seems a little daunting is very helpful towards recovery."

Reeve returned to Hollywood after his accident and made his directorial debut in 1997 with the critically acclaimed TV film In the Glooming, starring Glenn Close. During a fundraising appearance in 2017 for Reeve's foundation, a tearful shutdown shared a memory of his character.

According to an E Online account of the speech, she said, "I miss Chris. He was a great man. He had more ... He had more moral and mental fortitude than anyone." "It drove me inside, and at times it even took my breath away. And he was courageous. Against the odds, he dared to hope for his dream, which is now our dream - an empty world wheelchair."

In 2004, after a nearly decade-long fight, Reeve suffered a cardiac arrest and went into a coma before dying. He was 52 years old.

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