Dana Reeve

'Superwoman' widow


Dana Morosini, singer, actress and campaigner: born New York 19 February 1961; married 1992 Christopher Reeve (died 2004; one son); died New York 6 March 2006.

Dana Reeve turned from singer and actress to full-time caregiver in 1995 when her husband, the Superman actor Christopher Reeve, fell from a horse during a competition in Virginia. The accident left him paralysed from the neck down. Over the ensuing years, Dana Reeve was barely away from her husband's side. He often said that he had considered suicide after his fall but that his wife's love gave him the courage to endure.

The couple established the Christopher Reeve Paralysis Foundation, dedicated to providing funding for research into cures for paralysis victims. To date it has made grants of about $55m for research, as well an additional $7.5m in quality-of-life grants for paralysis patients. The Reeves also lobbied together for an easing of restrictions on stem cell research, believed to hold out hope for a future cure for paralysis.

In 1999, Dana Reeve published Carepackages: letters to Christopher Reeve from strangers and other friends. She also received many awards for her work, including, most recently, the American Cancer Society's Mother of the Year Award. "She was a woman with an incredible heart," said Kathy Lewis, Chief Executive Officer of the Paralysis Foundation.

In 2004, Dana Reeve was acting in California when word reached her that her husband was losing a battle with a fierce infection. She made it back to the East Coast to be at his bedside when he died on 10 October. Last August, less than a year after her husband's death, Dana revealed that she was suffering from lung cancer. She only made her plight public, she admitted at the time, because she knew a tabloid was about to publish the story.

There had seemed hope, at first, that she could beat the disease. Four months ago, she appeared at a fund-raising gala for the Paralysis Foundation, for which she had become chairman, looking healthy and relaxed. "My prognosis looks better all the time," she told those attending. Asked how she kept her spirits up, she said: "I was married to a man who never gave up."

She was born Dana Morosini in 1961 in the affluent New York suburb of Scarsdale, where her father, Charles, was a cardiologist. A graduate of the California Institute of the Arts, Dana built a career that spanned singing, live theatre, film and television. She appeared on Broadway in More to Love, played several roles off-Broadway, including at the Manhattan Theatre Club and Joseph Papp's Public Theatre. Her television acting included guest-star appearances on Law & Order, Oz and All My Children.

In 1987 she met Christopher Reeve, already a Hollywood star and with two children from a relationship with the British agent and model Gae Exton, while appearing in cabaret at the Williamstown Theater Festival in Massachusetts. They were married in 1992 and had a son of their own, Will.

After Christopher Reeve's accident, many people referred to his wife as "Superwoman". "There was nothing superhuman about standing by Chris," she said. "Like, what's so saintly about that? Lucky me. I'm with him!"

David Usborne

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Legal Secretary

£17000 - £17800 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to work ...

Recruitment Genius: Ad Ops Manager - Up to £55K + great benefits

£45000 - £55000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is a digital speci...

The Green Recruitment Company: Operations Manager - Anaerobic Digestion / Biogas

£40000 - £45000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: Operation...

Recruitment Genius: Implementation Consultant

£40000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This global leading software co...

Day In a Page

Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

Why are we addicted to theme parks?

Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

Iran is opening up again to tourists

After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
10 best PS4 games

10 best PS4 games

Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
Transfer window: Ten things we learnt

Ten things we learnt from the transfer window

Record-breaking spending shows FFP restraint no longer applies
Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

‘Can we really just turn away?’

Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

... and not just because of Isis vandalism
Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

Girl on a Plane

An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent