Family, friends bid 'Superman' farewell
Spokesman: Reeve 'touched hearts of millions' throughout world
From Laura Dolan
NEW YORK (CNN) -- Nearly 100 friends and family members of Christopher Reeve remembered the actor who became an activist for spinal cord injury research in a small gathering at his home this week.
"He's Superman," actor and comedian Robin Williams said Wednesday, a day after attending the Westchester County service for his friend, whose death he had not thought would come so soon.
"He went from looking like a Greek god to becoming Buddha: quiet, contained, but so powerful," Williams said. "And he's such a fighter. I thought, 'He's going to the hospital, he'll be OK, he'll come out.' "
Williams said he was not surprised that Reeve emerged as a figure in the debate over stem-cell research -- which has become a central issue in the presidential election.
"He loved politics," Williams said. "He was always an activist on that level, always a fighter."
Reeve, 52, died of heart failure Sunday at the Northern Westchester Hospital in Mount Kisco, New York, near his home, a day after falling into a coma.
Plans for a larger memorial are not finalized, but it most likely will take place in Manhattan within the next few weeks, said Wes Combs, a spokesman for the Reeve family.
"The Reeve family is deeply grateful for the outpouring of support shown to them," Combs said.
"It is clear that Christopher Reeve has touched the hearts of millions of people around the world and that is the legacy he leaves behind. That is a great comfort to the family at this difficult time."
Born September 25, 1952, in New York City, Reeve made his movie debut in 1978, playing a small role in "Gray Lady Down." Later that year, he landed the role of his life, as the star in the blockbuster "Superman." He went on to play the superhero in three sequels. The actor appeared in more than three dozen films and television movies.
Reeve had been an avid horseman when he went for a ride in May 1995 in Culpeper, Virginia. But Reeve's horse balked at a rail jump during a cross-country event, and he was thrown forward and landed head first, fracturing his upper vertebrae.
The actor was left paralyzed from the neck down.
Reeve became an activist for increased funding and research for spinal cord injuries and other central nervous system disorders.
He raised money through the Christopher Reeve Paralysis Foundation, which has awarded millions of dollars in grants to neuroscientists working to develop treatments and cures for paralysis.