MIDDLEBURY, Vt.- Actor and activist Christopher Reeve, who is best known for his lead role in the 1978 motion picture "Superman," and his wife Dana Morosini Reeve, a member of the Middlebury College class of 1984, will co-deliver the commencement address at Middlebury's graduation ceremony on Sunday, May 23. Each of them will receive an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree. Reeve's wife is also an actress and an activist, as well as a singer.
Paralyzed from the neck down in an equestrian competition in 1995, Reeve became an advocate for those suffering from spinal cord injuries and other disabilities. Since 1999, he has served as the chairman of the board of the Christopher Reeve Paralysis Foundation (CRPF). CRPF, a national, nonprofit organization, supports research to develop effective treatments and a cure for paralysis caused by spinal cord injury and other central nervous system disorders. Reeve is also a volunteer for a number of other organizations, including the National Organization on Disability (NOD), which he serves as vice chairman.
Doctors initially feared that Reeve might not live after his injury. Since then, he has regained sensation in a significant part of his body, and now breathes without a respirator after becoming one of the first to undergo a procedure that allowed doctors to implant a breathing device in his diaphragm muscle.
Middlebury College President John M. McCardell Jr. said in an interview with The Middlebury Campus, the student newspaper, "I am delighted that Christopher Reeve and Dana Morosini Reeve will be our commencement co-speakers. Their message will undoubtedly be uplifting, and their example is inspiring."
Reeve's film credits also include the "Superman" sequels, "Deathtrap," "The Bostonians," and the Oscar-nominated "The Remains of the Day." His roles in theatre productions include "The Marriage of Figaro," "Fifth of July," "My Life," "Summer and Smoke," "Love Letters" and "The Aspern Papers."
Since his injury, Reeve has continued to work in his field. He made his directorial debut in April 1997 with HBO's "In the Gloaming," which was nominated for five Emmys and won six Cable Ace Awards. In his first major role since becoming paralyzed, Reeve starred in an updated version of the classic Hitchcock thriller "Rear Window," for which he was nominated for a Golden Globe Award and won the Screen Actors Guild Award for Best Actor in a Television Movie or Miniseries. He also served as executive producer of the film.
At Middlebury, Morosini Reeve, majored in English and took a number of theatre courses before graduating cum laude. Her theatre credits include the starring role in the New Jersey Shakespeare Festival's recent rendition of "The Crucible," as well as a leading role in the Broadway comedy "More to Love." On television, she has guest starred on "Law and Order" and "All My Children," and played recurring roles on the CBS drama "Feds" and the HBO series "Oz." She also appeared in the HBO films "Above Suspicion" and "Someone Had to Be Benny."
Like her husband, she is an advocate for increases in medical research funding, and for the rights of the disabled. She serves on the boards of several organizations, including the CRPF, where she is also the chair of the organization's Quality of Life Committee. Twice yearly the committee awards grants, which were originally conceived by her, and are intended to help nonprofit organizations improve the lives of people who otherwise could not enjoy such activities as sports, arts and education.
Both Reeve and his wife have published books documenting their experience. Reeve is the author of his autobiography, "Still Me" (Random House, 1998), which spent 11 weeks on the New York Times best-seller list, and "Nothing is Impossible: Reflections on a New Life" (Random House, 2002). His wife is the author of "Carepackages: Letters to Christopher Reeve From Strangers and Other Friends" (Random House, 1999). Both are also frequent lecturers, sharing with others what they have learned from the unexpected challenges they have faced.
-- end --