‘Superman’ star Reeve paralyzed in fall from horse
Charlottesville, Va — Actor Christopher Reeve, star of “Superman” movies, was paralyzed and breathing with the help of a respirator Wednesday after suffering a severe neck injury over the weekend, doctors said.
Reeve, 42, was thrown off a horse Saturday during trials for an equestrian event and landed on his head.
“Mr Reeve currently has no movement or spontaneous respiration. He may require surgery to stabilize the upper spine in the near future,” said Dr John Jane, chairman of the neurosurgery department and Reeve’s attending physician.
Reeve was in serious but stable condition at the University of Virginia Medical Center in Charlottesville, Jane said. He said it is premature to speculate about the actor’s long-term prognosis.
Reeve was riding in Commonwealth Park in Culpeper, Va, along with 300 other contenders hoping to qualify for the Commonwealth Dressage and Combined Training Association, according to local newspaper reports. He was on the third of 15 jumps on a cross-country course when his horse, Eastern Express, stopped, throwing Reeve.
Reeve, an accomplished rider who owns several horses, was injured despite wearing protective gear.
“He has sustained complex fractures to the first and second cervical vertebrae that have resulted in an injury to the spinal cord,” Jane said in a statement. “The extent of the damage is not known.”
Relatives of the actor — who played the title role in “Superman” in 1978 and in three sequels — had gathered at the hospital, including his wife Dana Morosini and former girlfriend Gae Exton, with whom Reeve has two children.
Reeve began his acting career in summer stock and appeared on the television soap opera “Love of Life” while still in college.
Reeve debuted on Broadway in “A Matter of Gravity” in 1976, playing Katharine Hepburn’s grandson, and later starred in “Fifth of July.”
Despite his acting credits and he-man good looks, Reeve was a virtual unknown when he was chosen out of 200 candidates to become the big screen’s incarnation of “Superman.”
In 1993, he was seen in the film “The Remains of the Day,” which was filmed in the English countryside, and gave Reeve the chance to indulge his passion for the horses. But even there, it was hard to shrug off his superhero image.
“I managed to sort of sneak away and go riding with the Duke of Beaufort’s master of the hunt,” Reeve said in a 1993 interview on Cable News Network. “It is very strange to walk into the House and Hound, some pub from the 15th century in the middle of Wilshire someplace, then — ‘Aye, it’s Superman, here he comes…'”