Superman actor Reeve dies

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The Independent US

Christopher Reeve, the actor who played Superman, has died at the age of 52.

Reeve fell into a coma on Saturday after going into cardiac arrest while at his New York home and died yesterday, his publicist Wesley Combs said today.

Reeve was paralysed from the shoulders down after a riding accident in 1995. The accident turned him into a worldwide advocate for spinal cord research.

Reeve was being treated at Northern Westchester Hospital for a pressure wound that he developed, a common complication for people living with paralysis.

In the past week the wound had become severely infected, resulting in a serious systemic infection. He died of heart failure,

Dana Reeve, Christopher's wife, said in a statement today: "On behalf of my entire family, I want to thank Northern Westchester Hospital for the excellent care they provided to my husband,"

"I also want to thank his personal staff of nurses and aides, as well as the millions of fans from around the world who have supported and loved my husband over the years."

Reeve was a virtual unknown before he shot to superstardom in the 1978 blockbuster Superman.

The movie's producers were looking for an unknown actor to star in the title role alongside Marlon Brando and Gene Hackman.

Reeve screen-tested for the role and, through his meticulous preparation and close physical resemblance to the comic-strip hero, was given the part.

The film and its three sequels turned Reeve into a worldwide star and grossed 300 million.

Reeve broke his neck in May 1995 when he was thrown from his horse during an equestrian competition in Culpeper, Virginia.