He was the first actor to play Superman who was born after the character was created (1938).
Brother: Benjamin Reeve (b. 1953). Half-brothers: Jeff Johnson and Kevin Johnson.
Attended Cornell University, where he lived in Risley Hall, as a member of the class of 1974, leaving for Juilliard after his junior year.
Made his Broadway debut starring opposite Katharine Hepburn in a production of "A Matter of Gravity" in 1976. Hepburn became very fond of him, both as an actor and as a person, and teased him that he would take care of her when she retired. Ironically, Reeve's reply was "Miss Hepburn, I don't think I'll live that long."
Along with Margot Kidder, Jackie Cooper, and Marc McClure, he is one of only four actors to appear in the first four Superman films: Superman (1978), Superman II (1980), Superman III (1983), and Superman IV: The Quest for Peace (1987).
His weight trainer for Superman (1978) was British weight-lifting champion David Prowse, who played Darth Vader in Star Wars (1977), Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back (1980), and Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi (1983).
Wore nearly 25 different Superman costumes for Superman (1978), some of which were specifically for walking and others that were for flying, and some of which were turquoise for blue screen shots (in order to balance out the blue of the uniform).
Was only 24 years old when he was cast by Richard Donner in Superman (1978), making him the youngest actor ever to play the part of Superman.
Was a licensed hang glider pilot. This proved useful during the making of Superman (1978), as his knowledge of how flying works allowed him to create distinctive movements for Superman during the flight scenes.
Following Superman (1978), he was offered a number of scripts for action films, one of which he claims was a script for a film about the Viking Eric the Red. He turned them down because he felt they didn't require much in the way of acting. Instead, he chose Somewhere in Time (1980) as his first post-Superman film, against the advice of his agent, because he liked the script and the character.
Children, with Gae Exton: Matthew Reeve (b. 1979) and Alexandra Reeve (b. 1982).
1979: After meeting Reeve at the Academy Awards, John Wayne turned to Cary Grant and said, "This is our new man. He's taking over.".
Turned down the lead role in American Gigolo (1980) which went to Richard Gere. Turned down the role of Fletcher Christian in The Bounty (1984) which went to Mel Gibson. Turned down the lead role in Body Heat (1981) which went to William Hurt. Turned down the role of Mason Verger in Hannibal (2001) which went to Gary Oldman. In 1976, turned down the role of Mark Harris in "Man from Atlantis" (1977) which went to Patrick Duffy. Turned down the role of Jack T. Colton in Romancing the Stone (1984) which went to Michael Douglas, who also served as one of the film's producers.
While Reeve was filming Somewhere in Time (1980), the local theater decided to show his breakout hit Superman (1978). Many "Somewhere" cast members joined locals for the event. Early into the screening, the sound went out. Reeve, who was seated next to co-star Jane Seymour, stood up in the audience and delivered all the lines.
His friend Jane Seymour used to call him Superfoot because of his tendency to step on her toes while filming their dance scenes from Somewhere in Time (1980).
Among the lead roles turned down were Julian Kaye in American Gigolo (1980), Richard Lestrange in The Blue Lagoon (1980), Ned Racine in Body Heat (1981), T.S. Garp in The World According to Garp (1982), Jeff Spicoli in Fast Times at Ridgemont High (1982), Allen Bauer in Splash (1984), Daniel Jack T. Colton in Romancing the Stone (1984), Dan Gallagher in Fatal Attraction (1987), Martin Riggs in Lethal Weapon (1987), Edward Lewis in Pretty Woman (1990) and Fletcher Christian in The Bounty (1984) (when David Lean was attached as director).
After the critical and box-office failure of Superman III (1983), he was reluctant to do a fourth Superman film, especially if it was going to be treated as a farce. He eventually agreed to do it when the producers promised him story input and that they would finance a longtime pet project of his, the gritty crime drama Street Smart (1987), in which he played an amoral reporter.
Was not given first billing in any of the Superman films until Superman III (1983). As a relatively unknown actor at the time, he was given third billing behind Marlon Brando and Gene Hackman in the Superman (1978), then given second billing behind Hackman in Superman II (1980) before achieving top billing in the third film.
Attended the Supergirl (1984) premiere with Helen Slater.
A picture of him as "Superman" appears at the end credits of European Vacation (1985).
Was offered numerous roles, such as the lead in The Running Man (1987) and Total Recall (1990) (both of which went to Arnold Schwarzenegger). He turned them down to take on more challenging ones.
He went to Chile in 1987 during the military dictatorship to support about 80 Chilean artists (actors and directors) whose lives were threatened by the death squads of dictator Augusto Pinochet.
Was a fan of "Law & Order" (1990). He claimed that watching it helped him through his physical therapy.
Was offered Richard Gere's role in Pretty Woman (1990). When he went in to do a reading, he was not given actress Julia Roberts to read with, but the casting director, giving a half hearted effort at best. Reeve felt this was extremely unprofessional and chose not to do the film.
1992: Son, with Dana Reeve, Will Reeve born.
Was the very first caller into Dr. Frasier Crane's radio show on the TV sitcom "Frasier" (1993).
Starred opposite Michael Keaton in Speechless (1994). Keaton and Reeve portrayed DC Comics' two most iconic characters, Batman and Superman respectively.
The last character he played before his riding accident was a paralyzed individual in Above Suspicion (1995), which was released six days before the accident.
His last theatrical film, John Carpenter's Village of the Damned (1995), paired him with Mark Hamill, who provided the voice of the Joker in the animated "Batman" (1992).
Said he had originally planned for 1995 to be his comeback year, with lead roles in Village of the Damned and Above Suspicion and other major roles in the works, including a film reuniting him with director Richard Donner. Unfortunately his comeback was cut short by his tragic horse riding accident.
Received a two-minute standing ovation at the 68th Annual Academy Awards in 1996. He was introducing a film montage recognizing how Hollywood has tackled social issues.
Winner of a Grammy Award in the "Best Spoken Word Album" category for "Still Me" (1998)
August 2000: Broke his leg after falling out of his wheelchair during a workout.
The "Smallville" (2001) episode "Devoted" was dedicated to his memory, with the caption at the end of the credits reading: "He made us believe a man could fly.".
The character he portrayed on "Smallville" (2001), Dr. Swann, was named after longtime Superman artist Curt Swann.
Biography in: "The Scribner Encyclopedia of American Lives". Volume 7, 2003-2005, pages 452-454. Farmington Hills, MI: Thomson Gale, 2007.
January 2004: He was decorated by the Chilean government for his humanitarian work, with the Bernardo O'Higgins Order, by the Chilean chancellor in his home in New York.
5/18/05: Was posthumously awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Letters by Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, in New Brunswick, and an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree at Stony Brook University's commencement on 5/20/05. His degree was accepted by Stony Brook graduate student Brooke Ellison, whose life and struggle against paralysis was the subject of a made-for-TV movie directed by the late actor just before his death in 2004.