Christopher Reeve, star of the 1970s and 1980s "Superman" movies, rose to even greater fame as an advocate for the disabled after he was paralyzed from the neck down in a 1995 horseback riding accident.
In 1974, he began playing the role of Ben Harper in the television soap opera "Love of Life." He took other small roles in television, theater and film, and in 1976 made his Broadway debut opposite Katharine Hepburn in "A Matter of Gravity."
That same year, while performing in another play in New York, Reeve auditioned for the role that would make him a star. With Marlon Brando playing his father and Gene Hackman as the evil Lex Luthor, Reeve's "Superman" was a blockbuster when it was released in 1978, and Reeve became a household name.
Reeve, a tall, dark-haired actor perfectly suited for the role of the Man of Steel, showed true fortitude as a quadriplegic who pledged he would one day walk again.
An accomplished horseman, Reeve broke the top two cervical vertebrae and injured his spinal cord when he was thrown from his horse and landed on his head during competitive trials at an event in Culpepper, Va.
After his accident, Reeve soon became a powerful advocate for pushing the boundaries of modern medicine. His New Jersey-based Christopher Reeve Paralysis Foundation emerged under his star power and relentless fundraising as a leading source for research money, giving out more than $42.5 million to neuroscientists by the time of his death.