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Christopher Reeve | Source: Getty Images
Christopher Reeve | Source: Getty Images

How Christopher Reeve Could Have Looked at 71 If He Was Alive & Didn’t Have an Accident – Photos via AI

Milla Sigaba
Jun 12, 2024
02:14 P.M.
  • Christopher Reeve became a household name following his iconic role as Superman.
  • However, a harrowing accident left the actor fighting for his life.
  • AI-generated images provide a glimpse of what the iconic actor might have looked like if he had not died.
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Christopher Reeve, circa 1986. | Source: Getty Images

Christopher Reeve, circa 1986. | Source: Getty Images

Before Henry Cavill, Brandon Routh, and Dean Cain ever donned the Superman costume, Christopher Reeve soared into hearts worldwide with his iconic portrayal of the comic hero. However, the actor's life was forever changed after a horse riding accident left him paralyzed from the neck down.

The Hollywood star died a few years later, barely making it into his 50s. Despite this, thanks to AI-generated images, fans of the legendary Hollywood star can get a peek into the potential appearance of the iconic actor had he not met an untimely demise.

Christopher Reeve as Superman, circa 1977. | Source: Getty Images

Christopher Reeve as Superman, circa 1977. | Source: Getty Images

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A Promising Beginning

Christopher was born in Manhattan and raised in Princeton, N.J. However, his upbringing was one of instability following his parents' acrimonious divorce when the future star was only 3 years old.

Despite this instability, his passion for acting blossomed early. By 16, he was already equipped with an agent and an Actors' Equity membership card. His journey led him to the prestigious Juilliard School for Drama in New York, where he formed a lifelong bond with his roommate, the legendary Robin Williams.

Christopher Reeve and Robin Williams at the People's Choice Awards in March 1979. | Source: Getty Images

Christopher Reeve and Robin Williams at the People's Choice Awards in March 1979. | Source: Getty Images

At first, Christopher gravitated toward theatre. He made his Broadway debut in "A Matter of Gravity" with Katharine Hepburn in 1975. Then, at 24, Christopher snagged the iconic role of playing Clark Kent, also known as Superman.

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Christopher Reeve while filming "Superman," circa 1978. | Source: Getty Images

Christopher Reeve while filming "Superman," circa 1978. | Source: Getty Images

In 2023, Jay Towers shared a clip of Christopher's screen test for his role as Superman, and captioned the post, "Iconic Superman screen test that started it all Christopher Reeve auditions for Superman in 1977 and even with black shoe polish in his hair and sweating through a concept costume, everyone knew he was Superman!"

With an "S" emblazoned across his chiseled chest, Christopher became the most famous movie actor to take on the role of the comic book hero, dodging bullets and saving damsels in distress.

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A Life-Altering Turn

On New Year's Eve in 1994, Christopher looked back on his personal and professional lives and thought them to be perfectly balanced. He was a doting father, happily married, and at the peak of his career. Then, fate took a cruel turn.

The actor, who was so allergic to horses that he had to load up on antihistamines to shoot the riding scenes from 1984's "Anna Karenina," was thrown from one during an equestrian competition in May 1995.

Christopher Reeve, circa 1995. | Source: Getty Images

Christopher Reeve, circa 1995. | Source: Getty Images

At just 42 years old, Christopher's life was hanging on by a thread. Following the nearly fatal accident, a neurosurgeon fought to reconnect the actor's shattered spine. However, Christopher's battle for survival did not end there.

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He also endured ulcers, pneumonia, blood clots, broken bones, and a severe allergic reaction to a drug that almost killed him in July 1995. The legendary actor's injuries were so grave that his mother begged doctors to remove his life support.

Christopher Reeve during the "Keep It Clean" Creative Coalition Clean Water Rally on April 20, 1995, in New York City. | Source: Getty Images

Christopher Reeve during the "Keep It Clean" Creative Coalition Clean Water Rally on April 20, 1995, in New York City. | Source: Getty Images

During his time in the hospital, Christopher was unable to avoid thinking the darkest thoughts. In addition to being paralyzed, his deteriorating mental state was clouded with hallucinations. Christopher would go on to release two memoirs following his horse-riding incident and revealed that he, too, had thoughts about ending his life.

The actor described the anger he felt toward one doctor who he believed had misled him into believing that there was more hope for him than there really was. Christopher also experienced a harrowing moment when the tube of his ventilator detached from the machine, leaving him without air and unable to talk.

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Christopher Reeve at the "Indiscretions" New York City premiere after party on April 27, 1995. | Source: Getty Images

Christopher Reeve at the "Indiscretions" New York City premiere after party on April 27, 1995. | Source: Getty Images

As he waited for a nurse to come and reattach the hose, the "Superman" star recalled laying frozen in the darkness, struggling for breath. However, while on the brink of giving up, it was Christopher's wife, Dana Reeve, who said something that saved him.

Dana and Christopher Reeve at the second annual GQ Men of the Year Awards on January 15, 1997, in New York. | Source: Getty Images

Dana and Christopher Reeve at the second annual GQ Men of the Year Awards on January 15, 1997, in New York. | Source: Getty Images

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A Remarkable Resurgence

On his death bed, Christopher had turned to his wife and said, "Maybe we should let me go." However, uttering the words that saved him, she responded, "You're still you, and I love you."

In addition to releasing two memoirs, Christopher returned to making films. He directed the 1997 movie "In the Gloaming," where he sat in front of a video screen and gave instructions to the crew in the other room, a method many directors used.

Dana Reeve, Christopher Reeve and his daughter Alexandra Reeve at the screening of "In the Gloaming" on April 7, 1997. | Source: Getty Images

Dana Reeve, Christopher Reeve and his daughter Alexandra Reeve at the screening of "In the Gloaming" on April 7, 1997. | Source: Getty Images

The Hollywood star was able to rebuild his life to a certain extent. Christopher was also filled with so much gratitude that he did not have to worry about finance during this life-changing ordeal, a gift not many in his position had.

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However, Dana revealed that the actor still experienced lows with the highs. "Chris is incredibly resilient. He will occasionally get down, [and] hit rock bottom. I just listen, and try to find things that can help," she said.

Dana and Christopher Reeve at the Blue Light Theater Company Benefit on May 4, 1998, in New York City. | Source: Getty Images

Dana and Christopher Reeve at the Blue Light Theater Company Benefit on May 4, 1998, in New York City. | Source: Getty Images

Being Remembered by His Children

Christopher died of heart failure on October 11, 2004. He was 52. "On behalf of my entire family, I want to thank Northern Westchester Hospital for the excellent care they provided to my husband," Dana said in a statement.

"I also want to thank his personal staff of nurses and aides, as well as the millions of fans from around the world who have supported and loved my husband over the years," the late actor's wife added.

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Dana Reeve at the Christopher Reeve Paralysis Foundation 13th Annual Gala on November 18, 2004, in New York City. | Source: Getty Images

Dana Reeve at the Christopher Reeve Paralysis Foundation 13th Annual Gala on November 18, 2004, in New York City. | Source: Getty Images

Christopher's legacy lives on through his three children. His eldest child, Matthew Reeve, has since gone on to follow in his father's footsteps and pursued a career in the film industry. Matthew has made a name for himself as a writer, producer, and director, and beyond the camera, he is a father himself.

In 2017, Matthew appeared in a picture enjoying a family trip to Stockholm, Sweden, with his baby and his younger half-brother, William.

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Since becoming a dad, Christopher's eldest son has opened up about his own father and revealed, "I absolutely understand how everyone sees him as Superman. To me, he was dad and he was just awesome."

Christopher's second child is his daughter, Alexandra Reeve. Unlike her older brother, Alexandra did not pursue a career in Hollywood. Instead, she serves as the President and CEO of the Center for Democracy & Technology; a nonprofit organization that fights for and protects civil rights and liberties in the digital age.

Alexandra Reeve at the Variety Sundance Studio on January 20, 2024, in Park City, Utah. | Source: Getty Images

Alexandra Reeve at the Variety Sundance Studio on January 20, 2024, in Park City, Utah. | Source: Getty Images

Alexandra welcomed her first child in June 2015, which William announced on Instagram. "Beyond ecstatic for Garren and @alexandra1dc and their first kid," he captioned the post. William later gave his followers another adorable snap of him with his nephew.

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Following Alexandra's son's birth, William revealed that the newborn was named Christopher Russel Givens. A family representative later confirmed that the name Christopher was chosen as a touching gesture to pay homage to the infant's grandfathers on both sides of the family.

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Christopher's youngest child, William, is the only one the legendary actor shared with Dana. "In our short time together, my dad gave me everything: his love and attention, his values and passions," William revealed.

With over 74, 000 followers on Instagram at the time of writing, William has found success as a news personality for ABC. He is also in a loving relationship with his partner, Amanda Dubin.

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Sadly, William lost both of his parents as his mother passed only 2 years after his father. "I used to say to my wife, Dana, all the time, 'I really put the marriage vows to the test,'" Christopher humorously stated before his passing.

In 2021, William honored the 15-year anniversary of his mother's passing with a throwback photograph of him and Dana. "Fifteen years. A bit of a blur," the caption read.

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A Lasting Legacy

In January, "Super/Man: The Christopher Reeve Story" premiered at this year's Sundance Film Festival. The powerful documentary told the story of the actor's career and activism before and after the 1995 accident that paralyzed him.

Christopher's children later gathered to speak about the documentary, which left viewers in tears and earned a standing ovation. It's been almost 20 years since Matthew, Alexandra, and William lost their father.

However, they have continued to honor their father's legacy and champion his vision. Christopher spent the last few years of his life seeking a cure for his condition.

In 2015, his sons attended The Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation's 25-year celebration and offered a glimmer of hope for spinal cord research, ensuring their father's legacy remains a beacon of light.

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Matthew and William Reeve at The Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation 25th Anniversary "A Magical Evening" Gala on November 19, 2015, in New York City. | Source: Getty Images

Matthew and William Reeve at The Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation 25th Anniversary "A Magical Evening" Gala on November 19, 2015, in New York City. | Source: Getty Images

AI's Depiction of Christopher Reeve at 71

Through the lens of AI-generated images, we get a glimpse of what Christopher would have looked like if he were still with us today. The image below predicts what the dashing actor could have looked like with the common signs of aging.

Christopher Reeve via AI | Source: Midjourney

Christopher Reeve via AI | Source: Midjourney

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This AI-generated image predicts what Christopher might have looked like if aging caused his striking eyes to sink in slightly. The actor's cheeks have hollowed slightly in this image as well.

Christopher Reeve via AI | Source: Midjourney

Christopher Reeve via AI | Source: Midjourney

The AI-generated image below further shows Christopher with a full head of graying hair, predicting that the actor's locks might've lost their youthful brown hue.

Christopher Reeve via AI | Source: Midjourney

Christopher Reeve via AI | Source: Midjourney

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In this AI-generated image, we see a slightly different version of Christopher at 71, his face is lined with wrinkles and creases, signs of a life fully lived.

Christopher Reeve via AI | Source: Midjourney

Christopher Reeve via AI | Source: Midjourney

In this final AI-generated image, Christopher is depicted to be slightly younger. Although his face still appears to be more slender, this version of the actor sports fewer wrinkles and closely resembles the actor the world came to know and love.

Christopher Reeve via AI | Source: Midjourney

Christopher Reeve via AI | Source: Midjourney

While we will never know what Christopher Reeve would have looked like beyond 52, these AI-generated images serve as a comfort for those who came to know and love him. The iconic actor may be gone, but his legacy lives on.

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