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Interview With Christopher Reeve's Widow, Dana

Aired February 22, 2005 - 21:00   ET


CHRISTOPHER REEVE: And when I was in rehab, every time she came in the door, the aides would always say, Here comes your medication, man.


LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, exclusive, Christopher Reeve's widow, Dana Reeve, in her first live prime-time interview since her courageous husband's tragic death. How does she keep on after losing an inspiration, a real, live Superman? An intimate emotional hour with Christopher Reeve's widow, Dana Reeve -- looking great. We'll take your calls, too, next on LARRY KING LIVE.

Chris Reeve died on October 10, 2004. He was 52 years old, survived by his wife, Dana, their son, Will, and two grown children from a previous relationship. He was paralyzed from the neck down in a horseback-riding accident May 27, 1995.

And we understand, Dana, that you just lost your mother? Is that right?

DANA REEVE, CHRISTOPHER REEVE'S WIDOW: Yes. Sadly, we've had a lot of losses in our family in a very short period of time. My mom died from...

KING: How old was she?

REEVE: She was 71. She died from complications after surgery for ovarian cancer, and she was just diagnosed just three weeks ago.

KING: Were you very close?

REEVE: Very, very, very close. And my dad and my mom, I think of them as almost the same person. So it's a profound loss for our family. And she was very close to my son, Will. Both my parents have always been. And especially since Chris's, accident my parents really stepped in. And so we'll miss Nani (ph).

KING: Is your dad still alive?

REEVE: He's very much alive. I imagine he's watching.

KING: Was your mom close to Chris?

REEVE: She was very close to Chris. And you know, my family just has always rallied around each other. And when Chris had his accident 10 years ago, my sisters came in, my brothers-in-law came in, my parents. They took Will every weekend. When Chris was in rehab, he spent the weekend with him. And my parents have always just -- they loved Chris. He was definitely a loved -- very much loved member of the family.

KING: I was fortunate enough to be invited to that wonderful memorial service that you put together for Chris, and Will stole the night. He spoke eloquently. How is he doing?

REEVE: He's doing well. It's amazing to me. He has a resiliency that is very much like his dad. He's doing remarkably well. I was so proud of him that day.

KING: He's in school?

REEVE: He does great in school. And he's got a lot -- there's a very strong gene pool there, I think. I mean, I was so proud of him, the poise that he showed. And he was funny and articulate, and he wrote every word of this tribute that he wrote for his dad. And you know, he's a good kid. And he's a hockey player and he's good in school, and Chris was always very, very proud of him.

KING: And most of his memories are post-accident, right?

REEVE: Pretty much. He was only -- it was right before his third birthday when Chris had his accident. And in fact, we celebrated Will's third birthday while Chris was still in the hospital in Virginia. And he -- most of his memories, I would say, are from videotape and stories. He has a couple, I guess, like we all do. But he really -- in so many ways, I feel so grateful for those nine-and-a- half years that he got to really know his dad and what a strong and funny and wise and encouraging father he was. And it really made Will the extraordinary child that I think he is.

KING: What are you doing with your life, Dana?

REEVE: Well, I was supposed to be on Broadway right about now. I was in California, doing a play, "Brooklyn Boy," which is now running on Broadway. And Polly Draper is doing the role. It's a brilliant play by Donald Margulies, and I was supposed to be in it, but I stepped out after Chris died. I'm doing a lot of work with the foundation. That's something I stepped into. I stepped off of the stage and right into Chris's very large shoes that are tough to fill. But I'm excited about the work at the foundation. It wasn't a job that I ever expected to take over. But you know, our work really has taken on a whole new meaning.

KING: I hear "Brooklyn Boy" is quite a play. Don't you ever say to yourself, Gee, I wish I were doing it?

REEVE: Well, I did, certainly. But I think, really, under the circumstances, it's just more important that Will have a mom home at night. I mean, doing a play is tricky. It was one thing if Chris was going to be around. It was always a time -- whenever I worked on a play, it was a time when Chris and Will could really bond. It was really dad and son time. But it's, you know, weekends and nighttime. It's not a great schedule for family. So yes, it's a great play. I wish I was in it but, you know, another time.

KING: Was that the play you were doing when Chris went into the coma?

REEVE: Yes. And it was the night before the last performance.

KING: Where were you, in LA?

REEVE: It's actually at South Coast Rep down at -- just south of Long Beach, in Costa Mesa.

KING: What happened that night? Was it a night -- who called? What happened?

REEVE: Well, I was doing the performance, and I got a message on my phone, which I checked after the performance. And it was Chris's doctor, and he said, Call me right away. And when I called him, he described that Chris was -- that he had -- in retrospect, what we realized was that he had had a -- probably had a reaction to a drug. But he was -- he had a very particular physiognomy that he would react to things that no one reacted to, or he would react to something on the third or fourth dosage, where he had been fine. And in this case, that was, I think what happened, which precipitated, then, a series of catastrophic events which he just couldn't come out of. He was -- he was bombarded with infection and had been struggling with that for months and -- but working throughout all of it.

I've gotten calls like that in the past or I'd been around when Chris had been rushed off, and he'd always come through. And I -- this sounded different to me, but at the same time, I thought, Well, there's a possibility.

KING: So what did you do? Did you come home?

REEVE: Immediately, yes. I called my very close friend, who happened to have access to a plane, and she immediately arranged for me to get home as quickly as possible. And I got to the hospital in time to be with him before he passed on. But it was -- it was very hard and a little too dramatic. And it was -- but I feel like -- you know, some people have said to me, Do you feel like you got to say goodbye? And I feel like for nine-and-a-half years, we had -- you know, that was the conversation. That was the deathbed conversation. I think you have to live the conversation, and I think we did.

KING: Did -- was he in a coma?

REEVE: He was -- yes, he was in a coma.

KING: So there was no moment of -- where you could talk to him or anything?

REEVE: No. Because I think if he had been out of a coma, we would have -- we would -- you'd be talking to him tonight. You know, I think it was really -- as I said, it was a series of catastrophic conditions.

KING: Was it peaceful?

REEVE: Well, I don't know. I can't say it was peaceful because they were trying to -- you know, they were reviving him and keeping him alive, to a certain extent. He was peaceful throughout the night. I was -- Alexandra, my stepdaughter, his daughter, was with him through a whole night as I was traveling, and I was able to, you know, talk to her and he was quite peaceful. And I had requested -- I said, Please, just keep him alive until I get there. And they were able to, but it was really -- you know, it was over.

KING: We'll take a break and we'll talk about dealing with grief. Dana will take your calls in a while. And by the way, for any information about the foundation, it's Our guest is Dana Reeve. We'll be right back.


REEVE: I made a vow to Chris when we married that I would love him and I would be with him in sickness and in health. And I did OK with that. But there's another vow that I need to amend today. I promised to love, honor and cherish him until death did us part. Well, I can't do that because I will love, honor and cherish him forever. Goodbye to you!



KING: Did you ever think of not wanting to live?

CHRISTOPHER REEVE: I thought for about -- about 10 minutes when I first was in the intensive care. And when I first realized what my situation was, I thought, Maybe I'm too much trouble. Maybe this will be just too hard on everybody. Maybe I should just check out. And my wife, my beautiful, extraordinary wife, Dana, put the end to it with one sentence. She said, But you're still you, and I love you. End of story. And then my three children came in, Matthew, Alexander and Will, and our family was together. And I thought, No way I'm going to miss this. This is my family.


KING: Dana, how do you deal with grief?

REEVE: How do you deal with grief? Well, I'm learning. I think after Chris's accident, there was a sense of loss, but we were able to share it. And I'm finding that now, really, what you need to do is, you need to turn to family and you need to turn to friends and you need to truly have the person inhabit you. And I feel like that has happened.

I also believe the only cure for grief is grieving. You really need to let it -- things come up, things sort of bubble up at sometimes inappropriate times or whatever, but -- a lot of memories. And gradually, I'm told, eventually, you have a feeling that -- you know, you start feeling OK. But I'm a pretty positive person, so I'm pretty forward thinking.

KING: Did you and Chris talk about dying?

REEVE: Definitely, because we were living a life that was really always on the edge. There was a lot of challenge and a lot of hardship. When you live with a spinal cord injury, there are a life- threatening situations on a regular basis. There are a lot of issues that you deal with. And we were not afraid to have big talks. We were not afraid of emotion. And luckily, though, in a way, I think people take for granted sometimes their life and what they have, and we were very much aware of what we had and the gifts of life. And that's one of the ironic hidden gifts behind disability is that you just realize the gifts that you have are precious, and family and relationships.

KING: Did he ever say how he wanted to be memorialized?

REEVE: He always said he wanted it to be a party. And I had to apologize to him. I said, I don't really feel much like having a party. I apologized to his spirit. But we did celebrate his life. Absolutely. He had a lot to celebrate. And in the 52 years that he lived, he accomplished so much, and particularly in the last nine-and- a-half. The work the foundation has done, and his work personally, in Washington and for the disabled in this country is huge. Huge.

KING: His last day was a good one, though, right?

REEVE: It was great one. It was a great one. It's exactly how he liked to spend his day. He went to a hockey game and watched Will play. And the team won, and Will got the game puck for his level of play. He had a conversation with John Kerry on the phone and gave him a couple pieces of advice, which is very typical for Chris. We talked on the phone from California, and we talked about how much I wanted to -- I couldn't wait to get home and how great it had been, the two weeks prior.

I was traveling home every weekend, actor's weekends, Sunday to Tuesday. And I had been home -- a couple weeks before, we had had Matthew and Alexandra and Will all together for Chris's birthday, and we talked about how great that was and how well everyone seemed. And he just seemed so happy. And that night, he watched the Yankee game with Will. And then, you know, later he -- oh, that's a picture from the birthday. That was two weeks before. I love that picture. And so that evening, that Saturday evening, he -- you know, he slipped into the coma quite quickly. So -- and you asked before if it was peaceful, and I imagine, in that sense, it was. He was unconscious for, you know...

KING: There was no autopsy, right?

REEVE: No. We had really the best possible caregivers, and there's no question in my mind that everyone did the absolute right thing. I -- you know, I had questioned everyone afterwards, What happened? Did you do this? Did you do that? And everyone acted exactly the way that they should have. And it was just unfortunate. It is difficult. With his level of spinal cord injury and the infections he was battling, some mysterious, and his particular physiology, that he had to deal with a lot of other challenges additionally, just the fact that he reacted -- you know, he had adverse reactions to a lot of different drugs, and that was always a challenge, as well.

KING: Was Will at the hospital?

REEVE: Will came to the hospital when -- shortly after I arrived. Yes, he was there.

KING: Who told -- was he at the bedside?

REEVE: I told. He saw his dad, and I told him. And he kissed his dad on the head and he wiggled his toe, which is how he used to say good night to him.

KING: How did he take it?

REEVE: Well, it was a terrible, terrible shock. And you know, I think, really, it's the long term that you look at, that kind of news. It's nothing that anyone can take lightly. But I think he really showed who he is and who he will become when he spoke at Chris's memorial service. And I think -- you know, we are a family that has dealt with a lot of adversity and a lot of challenges. And I think that he can trust that life has a lot of joy and laughter even amidst pain and hardship. And that's another great gift, to be able to live a life with joy that can co-exist with hardship and pain. You know, it's a life lesson I wouldn't have wished on him, but at the same time, he has coping skills that I think a lot of 12-year-olds might not.

KING: We'll take a break and be back with more. At the bottom of the hour, we'll go to your calls. For any information, help and the like, you can click into And Dana Reeve now heads that foundation. You're watching LARRY KING LIVE. don't go away.


CHRISTOPHER REEVE: You know, when Dana and I got married, I really felt that, you know, things are on the right track, and you know, life was stable. You know, when I was -- I remember the first thing I said to her was that I'd really pushed the marriage vows to the limit. You know, in sickness and in health. This wasn't what we had in mind.




CHRISTOPHER REEVE: I'm lucky. I'm very lucky, first of all, because I think that I'm in a position to do more than just sit home and stare out the window, that I can actually be of help. That wasn't a road I would have picked, but a lot of times, things, you know, get picked for you. So the point is, either I give in or I say, All right, let's make the best of this. And there's a lot I can do.


KING: I had a lot of association with Chris Reeve, saw him do the play, "The 5th of July," in New York, interviewed him before the accident quite a few times, and even got to speak at the same forum once, when he drew 50,000 people in Atlanta, Georgia. He was really, really extraordinary.

Did you -- did you believe he was going to walk?

REEVE: I -- absolutely. Chris was an incredible visionary. And I think that he's probably walking now, but -- running, flying and sailing. But I think that his legacy is what he has provided for future generations and for people living right now with spinal cord injury. And I believe that the science, if we can encourage unfettered scientific research within good ethical guidelines, that we -- the legacy that he left is that spinal cord injury research will lead to rehabilitation and, ultimately, a cure for paralysis, absolutely, without question.

KING: Are you talking about embryonic stem cell research?

REEVE: That's one road. And I think that the popular support right now is really pushing towards that -- certainly, the state by state support, talking about that. But there are a lot of things. And ironically, Larry, in the past year or so, it became pretty apparent that for Chris's particular case, embryonic stem cell research may or may not have been of tremendous benefit for him.

But he -- there are a lot of other -- there's a lot of other work that we at the foundation fund. We do a lot of funding in the area of the aggressive kind of physical rehabilitation that he was able to enjoy, the treadmill walking therapy and many, many other things that had brought great, great things for him and tremendous promise for other people, where really, truly, rehabilitative work is going on. So certainly, stem cells are an area that we support and -- vocally, and also -- but there's a lot of other research out there.

KING: Where's the wheelchair?

REEVE: His wheelchair now?

KING: Yes.

REEVE: Well, I'm hoping to approach the Smithsonian to see if they want it. It is in the clothes closet/shower area of Chris's. And I've folded up a Rangers jersey that says "Reeve No. 1," and that's sitting on it now.

KING: He would like that. Is there any question whether they would take it or not? REEVE: I don't know. Maybe you can help. I don't know. There's been an initial pass on it. And they'd said they'd like some theater things and other things. But I think he truly was -- other than perhaps FDR -- I'm trying to think of anyone else in a wheelchair who's had such an impact on society, and I really can't. I would say Roosevelt and he.

KING: Yes. And all over the world.

REEVE: Yes. Yes. And I don't want to -- we gave -- we donated a lot of his equipment through our Paralysis Resource Center, and that was tremendous because I think Chris would haunt me if all of his exercise equipment went into a museum. He definitely wanted it to benefit other people. But the wheelchair was -- you know, was getting on, and he -- and it really needs to be -- I don't want to just give it away for parts or something. It was really -- it became a part of him, and I think it symbolizes what -- you know, he moved around a lot in that, symbolically and literally.

KING: They're going to do, apparently, another "Superman." Does that bother you?

REEVE: No, I think it's time for a generation. I mean, Chris was aware of that when he was alive, that they were doing another "Superman." I think it might have bothered him a little, only because of that feeling, like, time marches on and we all get older. And you know, even if he was up on his feet at 52, I'm not sure -- he said -- he said he was not sure he could fit into the tights!


REEVE: So no, I can't say it bothers me because I don't identify Chris solely with that role. He was an actor, and that was one of the roles he did. And so -- it may bother other people, fans.

KING: Sure. Did he support your doing theater?

REEVE: Absolutely. He was incredible. I mean, we met at the Williamstown Theater Festival. We were both acting there. And we were definitely an acting family. And he supported it very much. It was really -- over and over, it was my choice to sort of cut back on my career, both when we had Will and then shortly after he had his accident. I just -- my family has always been my priority. And it's just -- that is satisfying for me. But he was great in terms of supporting me. As Will got older, he was such a good dad and such an involved dad that when Will had fewer physical needs, where just really needed a ride and a cheering section, Chris was very, very much able to be there for him. And yes, he was very supportive.

KING: Do you ride horses?

REEVE: I rode my whole life, and after Chris had his accident, I stopped riding, primarily because he loved it so much, and I think it really would have been painful for him if I was going off riding and he wasn't able to. And it didn't mean that much to me to drop. You know, his accident was a freak accident, and he was an exceptionally good rider for someone -- really, for anyone. But he had started as an adult, and I'd started as a child and he was better than I was, so -- and his daughter rode on the polo team at Yale. She continued riding, and she's a very good rider, as well.

KING: Do you ever think you feel him around you?

REEVE: All the time. And watching these clips of him -- you know, he's such a powerful presence. He was such a powerful presence in life, and he continues. I mean, someone like that, it's like the -- there's a wonderful Maya Angelou poem that a dear friend sent me after Chris died. And it starts with, you know, "When old trees die, the whole forest feels it." Then it talks about When -- when, you know, large souls die, you continue to feel their vibration. And I think that's definitely true. And I feel my mom, too. Good thing. That is a good thing.

KING: Good thing. We'll take a break and come back, go to your calls for Dana Reeve on this edition of LARRY KING LIVE. Don't go away.


CHRISTOPHER REEVE: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) told me very early on, and that was, Really try very hard not to make your wife have to become your nurse or your mother. And we made this commitment, and it's still just as strong, if not stronger. And we just look forward and keep going.




C. REEVE: Hope has to be built on the same solid foundation as a lighthouse. But thankfully where we are now with science and where we are with physical therapy, it's tremendous what's happening, the breakthroughs, all around the world.

So when I say to people who are paralyzed or suffering from Parkinson's, and Alzheimer's, and Leukemia, et cetera, this is really the dawning of a new age of real hope.


KING: The late Chris Reeve. His widow, Dana Reeve, is our special guest.

Let's go to your calls. Toronto, hello?

CALLER: Hi, Larry.

Hi, Dana. How are you?

KING: Hi. CALLER: Coincidentally, my husband was in a car accident on May 27th, 2000, however, and he was left a C5/6 quadriplegic. So, although he wasn't vent dependent, I have a lot of similarities.

After his accident, you both became an incredible inspiration to us. I have two quick questions. One is, Dana, how much longer do you think the world is going to take before they realize that stem cells are the cure and we need to pay attention to that? And, two, how did you guys deal with all the infections that you faced?

D. REEVE: Well, starting with one, is that I do think, as I mentioned before, there is a groundswell of popular support in this country and certainly around the world. A lot of the cutting-edge research in stem-cell research is happening in other countries who are leading the way. And we're in danger of falling behind.

However, the state-by-state initiatives, which we've been a part of -- Chris was very, very strongly supportive of -- And the foundation stands in support of these initiatives, as well, continues to. Proposition 71 in California being so far the most significant one. Those, I think, that will be a continuing trend.

And I think that people -- and I was lucky enough to sit in -- and I was invited by Congressman Langevin of Rhode Island to the State of the Union Address. And I would say, during that speech, President Bush even left a little bit of an open-ended idea when he was talking about the possibility of biomedical research and saying we should pursue it, we shouldn't be left behind, we should do it under ethical circumstances. And we couldn't agree more.

The second question, how do we deal with the infections? You do have to be absolutely religious about it. I mean, Chris had a lot of infections. He stayed off -- when you have a decubitus ulcer, you have to stay off of it. He was very good about that, but he also liked very much to live an extremely active lifestyle. And so he refused sometimes to go to bed for, you know, three days in a row. But he would occasionally. You just have to be right on top of it. It's a real problem.

KING: By the way, what's the name of the foundation?

D. REEVE: Our foundation? Christopher Reeve Paralysis Foundation, And you can also call the Paralysis Resource Center and they can give you a lot of practical advice, as well.

KING: St. Petersburg, Florida, hello?

CALLER: Hi, Larry.

Dana, actually, I went to camp with you and your sister. Your sister, Debbie, in Maine taught me how to ride horses many years ago.

D. REEVE: Who is this?

KING: What camp? CALLER: Camp Telage (ph).

D. REEVE: Yes. What am I talking to?

CALLER: My name's Laurel (ph). We went to camp 100 years ago together.

D. REEVE: Oh, wow. Oh, my goodness.

CALLER: Yes, my question was, do you plan on continuing your singing career?

KING: Oh, you sing, too?

D. REEVE: I was -- yes, I sing, too. I was actually slated to appear at Feinstein's in New York at the end of October, and I canceled that, as well. This is something I definitely want to do before my singing voice turns into a croaking voice. I absolutely want to continue that and pursue it.

And thank you for asking. I was beginning to work on it.

KING: Are you going to record?

D. REEVE: I would like to. I would like to record. I would like to do some cabaret acts. Chris, when we met, he was there listening to me sing. I was singing at a late-night cabaret. And that's when he came up to me. And he was enchanted by my voice, so I guess I have got to continue for him.

KING: Feinstein's would be great spot for singing.

D. REEVE: Yes, oh, it's great. It's wonderful.

KING: It's a singer's room.

Olympia, Washington, hello?

CALLER: Hi, Larry.

Hi, Dana.



CALLER: Hi. I just wanted to say that "Somewhere in Time" is my all-time favorite movie. And I was wondering what Christopher's favorite movie role was.

KING: "Somewhere in Time" is -- people who love that movie.

D. REEVE: They love it. It's like a cult following.

KING: They put it at the top of the list. D. REEVE: Yes, it is a very romantic movie. I think the idea of time travel is very seductive. And he's adorable in it. And Jane Seymour is so beautiful. And people love it.

I think Chris' favorite role was in "Remains of the Day," which was the Merchant Ivory film that he shot not long before his accident, a couple years before. He loved working with Merchant Ivory. And he really used to say how he just had started to figure out how to act when he got his -- when he had his accident. He did a brilliant job. He got a SAG award for the work that he did in "Rear Window," which he did after his accident. He loved that role as well. But I think "Remains of the Day" was probably, for him, was really his favorite. And there he is directing. He did love directing, too.

KING: It's also ironic, that the last thing he did on film with Joe Montagna for HBO, I think, he played a man in a wheelchair and he was a villain.

D. REEVE: Yes, he was.

KING: He was a cop killer. A cop who was a cop killer.

D. REEVE: Yes, he was. He was a very bitter man in that movie.

KING: He sure was.

Agawam, Massachusetts, hello?

CALLER: Hi Larry.

Hi, Dana.


CALLER: I just wanted to know, first of all, Dana, my condolences to your loss on Chris.

D. REEVE: Thank you.

CALLER: My question is, do you know if there's any plans on making a movie on Chris' life or his career in show business?

D. REEVE: Well, none that I'm involved in. I think that his life is a wonderful story. After he wrote "Still Me," which is his autobiography, there was a lot of interest in turning that into a movie. And he said, "Well, no."

I think if there's anyone who wanted to make a movie about his life, I would hope that they would do it in -- the kind of movie I would like to see is more the inner journey of the man, rather than sort of a biopic, where you go chronologically. He was born, he was a star, he had an accident. I would rather see his inner journey. Because he was a fascinating, brilliant, funny, engaging person who had a tremendous kind of spiritual sense and...

KING: What was his number-one fault? D. REEVE: His number-one fault?


KING: Yes.

D. REEVE: Perhaps perfectionism, that he was very hard on himself. And he wanted, you know, things to be perfect. And so he held himself to a very high standard, and he held other people to a high standard as well, if that's a fault.

KING: I'm sure it could drive other people nuts.

Ventura, California, hello?

CALLER: Hello.


CALLER: My husband knew for three years that he was -- there was no hope for his recovery, yet we seek hope here and there. Forgive me.

With each rejection of his case, he became more and more remorse and his personality changed. He was so, so sweet before his illness but became more bitter. Did this affect Chris the same way?

D. REEVE: Well, I'm so sorry to hear that, because I think that that can happen. I think it can be very tough, when you're -- the life that you've known has been taken away.

And Chris was -- the makeup of his person was such that he had a tremendous will before his accident, tremendous drive, and as I said, perfectionism. And he did not tend to get depressed and say depressed. He had his moments, but he tended to be pretty optimistic. But I know that that isn't always the case for other people.

KING: As we go to break, we'll be back with more calls. We mentioned, she mentioned it, Dana Reeve sings. Watch.


D. REEVE (singing): This is the only music that makes me die.




C. REEVE: I certainly have the motto that nothing is impossible. I think the question of whether I will walk is going to depend on politics, it's going to depend on collaboration between scientists around the world. It will depend on economics, a lot of factors that I knew very little about when I was injured eight years ago. I think my purpose, when I was 42, in saying that I would walk by the time I was 50 was to be provocative, to be a voice saying, "Why can't we do this? Don't tell me the reasons why not."


KING: Now there was a dramatic night on this program, Dana and Chris were on. And Chris moved a finger. I think we can show that clip and ask Dana about that night. Watch.


C. REEVE: To show that it's voluntary, you give me the instruction. You say, "Go."

KING: OK. Christopher Reeve, I'm your director here tonight.

C. REEVE: Correct.

KING: Move your finger.

C. REEVE: Say go.


C. REEVE: There you go.

KING: Whoa.

C. REEVE: Say stop.

KING: Stop.

C. REEVE: Say go.


D. REEVE: Who's directing who here?

KING: Stop. Yes, he's directing me.


KING: What a night.

D. REEVE: Yes. And as a direct result, that finger movement and the other movement, was as a direct result of some of the physical therapy that he did, which we fund.

KING: Peoria, Illinois, hello?

CALLER: Hello?

KING: Yes, go ahead.

CALLER: Yes, I was wondering, you showed such remarkable strength, Dana.

D. REEVE: Thank you.

CALLER: You're just unbelievable to me. And I was wondering, who did you turn to when you needed maybe a little extra strength? Was there a church, maybe some friends, family that when, you know, things got tough for you, that you were able to reach out and, you know, helps?

D. REEVE: You know, part of it is that I was very, very lucky to have Chris. We had each other. And we would turn to each other for strength. And I know that sounds odd, but that was definitely a big part of it.

I also am blessed with a tremendously supportive family and great, great friends. And I have been very lucky in that regard. And I think, in a way -- you know, I said to a friend of mine recently, "Chris was the one person I felt I could go through such a difficulty with." And I know that's, again, that's strange, but he and I, as a team, were able to face this and again live a joyful life.

And I do, I credit my parents, because I was raised in a very loving, positive-thinking home, where you learn to help each other and yet live independently, so some of it just sort of happened. I don't know the secret.

KING: It was Robin Williams' wife that flew you home, right, from L.A...

D. REEVE: Yes.

KING: ... from southern California to see Chris right?

D. REEVE: Yes. You're quite the sleuth. Yes.

It was Robin's wife, Marsha, who flew me home. They have always been incredible friends, just really beyond anything I can even describe, just rushing in. And there they are as young students at Juilliard. And I can't say enough good about the two of them. They're just -- they're quiet about their generosity, and they are extremely generous and loving people.

KING: Homer, Louisiana, hello?

CALLER: Good evening, Larry.

Good evening, Dana. My condolences to you and your family.

D. REEVE: Thank you.

CALLER: I was wondering, what are some of the important life lessons that you've learned from Chris?

D. REEVE: Wow. There are so many. I can do a whole hour on just the life lessons. I'll frame them in the lessons that I think that he's taught his children, because I think they're the one who have been given that even more. And that is that you can be someone who needs help without being a helpless person, that you can ask for help and still be a strong person.

I learned about facing challenges with optimism, solving problems rather than dwelling on them and wishing things were different. Definitely playing the cards that you're dealt and playing them extremely well.

Chris, boy, was he ever resilient, and was he ever someone who would never give up and had tremendous discipline, and he set goals and met them. And he just -- he really believed and lived nothing is impossible. That's a sampling of some of the lessons.

KING: And one might also say he was a real good guy.

D. REEVE: He was a good guy. He was a good guy. He was a mensch. He was a great...

KING: A mensch.

D. REEVE: He was. He was a good guy.

KING: We'll be back with our remaining moments with Dana Reeve.

Don't forget, for more information,, Keep the spirit alive. We'll be right back with a few more calls for Dana. Don't go away.


C. REEVE: I think that, for me, what I have faith in, I have faith in the best possibilities of human beings, that we can do more than we think we can and that love really conquers every possible problem.

KING: It's been the strongest voice in your life, right?

C. REEVE: Absolutely. Without love, without love...

KING: Did you feel it more after?

C. REEVE: Yes, I mean...

KING: Yours was a happy marriage, though, wasn't it?

C. REEVE: It was, is and will be.

KING: But before the accident, it was happy marriage?

C. REEVE: Yes.

KING: Happier after? C. REEVE: Yes. Even so because, I mean, I joked with her. I said, "You know, in sickness and in health," I said, "Wow, I really put these vows to the test."

KING: Why is it happier for you?

C. REEVE: Well, because everything, every moment is so precious. I nearly died twice in 1995. So I've been to the edge and back. And the fact, you know, that everything that we do, every place we go, everything we see, we share it in a new light. And that really is just a triumph.




KING: Here's what Dana says to Chris: "The path we are on is unpredictable, mysterious, profoundly challenging, and, yes, even fulfilling. It's a path we chose to embark on together and, for all the brambles and obstructions that have come our way of late, I have no regrets. In fact, all of our difficulties have shown me how deeply I love you and how grateful I am that we can follow this path together. Our future will be bright, my darling one, because we have each other and our younguns. With all my heart and soul, I love you, Dana."

That's an extraordinary woman, Chris.

C. REEVE: Yes. I seriously tested the marriage vows, you know, you talk about in sickness and health. We got more than we bargained for -- more than we bargained for, but the fact is, Dana never flinched.


KING: We're back with our remaining moments with Dana Reeve.

Is it hard for you to look at him?

D. REEVE: No. It's actually wonderful. It's really been nice to get these little glimpses, to hear his voice. And that's a real gift. I don't know if everyone has as much footage.

KING: No kidding.

Cadiz, Kentucky, hello?

CALLER: Hello, Larry.

Hello, Dana. Dana, I'd like to know, my husband was paralyzed in '93. He died in 2000. I'd like to know how you deal with that grief now? I'm still grieving terribly.

KING: I think you said you should keep grieving, right? D. REEVE: Well, to a point. I think that, you know, it's five years now since he passed on. I think that it's hard -- it's particularly hard -- this woman has been through it as well as I have -- is that I think one of the things that happens is that you re- grieve the accident as well, the loss that you feel then.

I think, yes, the only cure for grief is grieving but, at the same time, to be able to look forward and take the gifts that you've been given, get friends around you, do things that you love to do and feel good about. And, I mean, that's how I try to live my life. But it's hard. You know, you get very -- it's hard. I think everyone has their own way.

KING: Ranson, West Virginia, hello?

CALLER: How you doing, Mr. King?


CALLER: How you doing, Mrs. Reeve?


CALLER: I just wanted to say, I saw you on "Oprah Winfrey" two weeks ago. And, man, I wish that I could have been there to let you know how much your husband meant to me.

I broke my neck in '98. And like your husband, I didn't -- initially, I wanted to commit suicide but, because I saw what he went through and how he handled it, it gave me the strength and the courage to continue to do the things that I needed to do to support my wife and kids.

And I just wanted to let you know that, if there is anything that I can do to assist the Christopher Reeve foundation, let me know, if it's just as small as licking envelopes and just mailing things out. I mean...

D. REEVE: Great.

CALLER: Where can I go to find out information about how I can just help with the organization?

D. REEVE: What you should do is call our resource center. It's the Christopher and Dana Reeve Paralysis Resource Center. And call and say you're the guy from LARRY KING.

KING: Do you have the number? Do you have the number?

D. REEVE: I don't have it offhand. I don't. But if you go to, you'll find the number. Because we do also have a mentoring and outreach program that we're starting up. And you sound like you'd be great. I'm so happy to hear, and Chris would be so happy to know, that he affected you in such a way. Because he really did on a regular basis reach out to people.

Congratulations. Good for you and your family.

KING: Can't top that.

Honestly, Dana, you're so beautiful, and young, and vivacious, and bright, will you date again?

D. REEVE: You, Larry, are you asking me out?


KING: No. Taken.

D. REEVE: I don't know, I suppose. Yes, I don't know. It's so early.

KING: No, I mean, Chris would want you to go on with your life, wouldn't he?

D. REEVE: Yes, yes.

KING: I mean, knowing Chris, he would want you to go on?

D. REEVE: Yes and no. I don't know.


D. REEVE: It's still early. It's four months. Life will go on.

KING: Thank you, Dana. Thanks for a wonderful hour.

D. REEVE: Thank you. Thank you. It's been a pleasure.

KING: Dana Reeve.

For more information, it's,

Dana just lost her mother ten days ago and made this commitment to come on tonight and kept it, for which we thank her.

We'll take a break. And I'll tell you about tomorrow night's exciting program right after this. Don't go away.


KING: Sandra Dee passed away the other day, and we're going to do a tribute to her tomorrow night. A lot of folks here, including James Darren, her co-star in "Gidget," Debbie Reynolds, because people forget that Sandra Dee also played "Tammy." That's tomorrow night.

Right now, let's go to New York, where "NEWSNIGHT" will once again be anchored by my dear friend, Aaron Brown.

It's been raining for 73, 74 days.

AARON BROWN, CNN ANCHOR: Yes. It's sort of like Noah and the ark.

KING: I'm getting used to it. I passed Noah today.

BROWN: Is that right?

KING: The animals are boarding.

BROWN: I believe that. It's our lead story, as well, Larry, so thank you.

KING: Go get 'em, Aaron.


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