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Christopher Reeve's Wife Was Devoted to Her Paralyzed 'Superman' & Felt He Was Close during Her Cancer Battle

Karabo Baloyi
Jun 06, 2022
07:00 A.M.
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When Christopher Reeve first laid his eyes on a then-25-year-old Dana singing in a late-night cabaret show, both their lives were forever transformed. Even though their relationship involved tragedies, they remained close as ever.


Christopher was a rising Hollywood star when he met Dana in 1987. Dana was on stage performing in a cabaret show. She wore an off-the-shoulder dress and sang "The Music That Makes Me Dance."

Christopher was immediately transfixed by her and made his move, but Dana remained skeptical of his advances. Even though Dana found Christopher attractive, she kept their interactions to light flirting.

Christopher Reeve during The 63rd Annual Academy Awards - After Party at Maple Drive Restaurant in 1991. | Source: Getty Images


However, Christopher wasn't fulfilled with this arrangement, so ten days after the pair met, Christopher asked her to go for a midnight swim at a pond he knew. "I thought, 'Oh God, here comes the old let's-get-naked-and-go-for-a-swim routine,'" Dana reminisced. But Christopher was a true gentleman.

Dana was so relieved with Christopher's manners that they shared their first kiss that night. Soon after that, the pair spent as much time as they could together. Christopher would even sit in on Dana's rehearsals, and their romance grew steadily.

After five years of dating, Christopher and Dana got married In 1992 and had their son, Will. Christopher had two children, Matthew and Alexander, from a previous relationship.


Christopher Reeve and wife Dana during Christopher Reeve File Photos in Los Angeles, California, United States. | Source: Getty Images


In 1995, Christopher successfully acted as Superman several times. But he had some trouble further establishing his career outside of the heroic character. He also enjoyed participating in equestrian competitions. But tragedy struck when Christopher fell off a horse during a roadblock test. The blow left him paralyzed from the neck down and forever in a wheelchair.


Dana also recalled that during the first year of their marriage, Christopher would constantly express how much he loved being married.

Doctors said he was paralyzed from the neck down, and it was unlikely that he would ever walk again. Christopher's injuries were so gruesome that his mother begged the doctors to switch off his ventilating machine.

Robert Kennedy Jr. and wife with Christopher Reeve and Dana Reeve | Source: Getty Images



While in the hospital, Christopher asked if it was time to let him go. He could no longer bear the thought of being a burden on his family. Dana looked into his eyes and said that she would support him in whatever decision he took.

She promised that she would be with him for the rest of his life. Then she said words that saved Christoper's life:

“You’re still you and I love you.”

Christopher Reeve and wife Dana Reeve during 13th Annual "A Magical Evening" Gala Hosted by The Christopher Reeve Paralysis Foundation. | Source: Getty Images


For the many weeks that Christopher was in the hospital, Dana drove three hours daily to see him. Throughout physical therapy, she was by his side and would even exercise his arms and legs to help him.

Dana gave up her growing acting career to take care of Christopher and their son. Dana also recalled that Christopher would constantly express how much he loved being married during the first year of their marriage.

After the accident, the joy of being married turned into gratitude because Dana was so supportive. Dana's support helped Christopher believe that living as a paraplegic was possible. He realized that he needed to shift his focus from acting and being an equestrian to other activities to stay productive.


Actor-Director Christopher Reeve poses for journalists with his wife, Dana, and their son, Will, after being honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in Lost Angeles, CA, in this 15 April, 1997. | Source: Getty Images


Christopher remained in a wheelchair for years, and his family remained by his side until he sadly died in 2004. Christopher died from an infection after suffering a pressure wound. Dana grieved Christopher and raised their son, Will on her own.


Life had to carry on for her and she had to continue running the Christopher Reeves Paralysis Foundation, which she and Christopher founded together. Her grief for Christopher came in waves, "I miss him most when I have a visceral memory," Dana said.

Actor Christopher Reeve is joined by wife Dana and son Will at SuperSkate 2001, a celebrity charity ice hockey game at Madison Square Garden. | Source: Getty Images


Dana added that her biggest motivator for continuing with the foundation was to prove that Christopher didn't live in vain. She and her son found unique ways to honor his memory. Will's hockey team even donated $1 for every goal they scored to the foundation. The hockey team donated thousands of dollars to the foundation.

Only ten months after Christopher's death, Dana announced that she was diagnosed with lung cancer, even though she was not a smoker. She fought cancer with everything in her and drew strength from her husband's courage after his injury.

Christopher Reeve and his wife, Dana, arrive for the 2003 Tony Awards at Radio City Music Hall in New York City.. | Source: Getty Images


"I was married to a man who never gave up," Dana said. "He taught me so much about courage and about going forward. He really was in this with me." Dana added that she felt that Christopher was with her throughout her battle with cancer:

“Now, more than ever, I feel Chris with me as I face this challenge. As always, I look to him as the ultimate example of defying the odds with strength, courage, and hope in the face of life’s adversities.”

Dana's good friend, Susan Sarandon, was just as optimistic about Dana through her battle with cancer. "She sounds really good. She's in a great frame of mind," Sarah said. However, Dana sadly died a short while later and was survived by her then 13-year-old son, Will.