Christopher D'Olier Reeve (September 25, 1952 – October 10, 2004) was an American actor, director, and activist, best known for playing the title role in the groundbreaking movie Superman (1978) and its three sequels. Reeve discovered a passion for acting and the theater at the age of nine. He studied at Cornell University and the Juilliard School and made his Broadway debut in1976. After his acclaimed performances in Superman and Superman II, Reeve declined many roles in action movies, choosing instead to work in small films and plays with more complex characters. He later appeared in critically successful films such as The Bostonians (1984), Street Smart (1987), and The Remains of the Day (1993), and in the plays Fifth of July on Broadway and The Aspern Papers in London's West End. On May 27, 1995, Reeve was completely paralyzed from the shoulders down after being thrown from a horse during an equestrian competition. In the years following the accident, Reeve returned to creative work, directing In the Gloaming (1997) and acting in the television remake of Rear Window (1998). He also made several appearances in the Superman-themed television series Smallville, and wrote two autobiographical books, Still Me and Nothing is Impossible. Over the course of his career, Reeve received a BAFTA Award, a Screen Actors Guild Award, an Emmy Award, and a Grammy Award. Beginning in the 1980s, Reeve engaged in activism for environmental and human-rights causes and for artistic freedom of expression. After the accident, he lobbied for spinal cord injury research, including human embryonic stem cell research, and for better insurance coverage for people with disabilities. His advocacy work included founding the Christopher Reeve Foundation and co-founding the Reeve-Irvine Research Center. Reeve died on October 10, 2004, at the age of 52.