“If you look at pictures of me when I was a kid, I never cracked a smile. Really grim. Acting was a way to help me loosen up, expose myself, relax, and I think I’ve made some progress. But I also think it takes 20 years to make an actor. I’m halfway there.” – Newsweek (January 1, 1979)
“Princeton absolutely formed me. It set me on a path that brought me great, great happiness.” – People (January 27, 1997)
“What makes Superman a hero is not that he has power, but that he has the wisdom and the maturity to use the power wisely. From an acting point of view, that`s how I approached the part.” – undated.
“I actually thought I was in pretty good shape before, but by the time we were done, I felt like I was ready to take on Muhammad Ali!” – on the weight training he did for Superman-The Movie – undated.
“[Jerry Siegel] and [Joe Shuster] created a piece of American mythology. It was my privilege to be the onscreen custodian of the character in the `70s and `80s. There will be many interpretations of Superman, but the original character created by two teenagers in the `30s will last forever.” – undated.
“I think he is an essential part of our culture and our mythology. He is a friend, and he is an unassuming hero, and I also think the fact that he is both awkward and a shy newspaper reporter makes him like everybody else. And yet he has another identity, this larger-than-life superhero. Sometimes we feel like Clark Kent, and sometimes, if we are lucky, we feel like Superman.” – undated.
“(He’s) such an accurate psychological model…. You’re combining basic fantasy with everyday reality, and it’s an unbeatable combination. What person has not dreamed of flying and freedom and power and all those things and yet had to face the 9 to 5 work world that we all really live in? …In the 1930’s–1933 particularly in the Depression–Siegel and Shuster said it first and best, I think. And all the other characters I think basically are some version of Superman. He was the first and the truest.” – interview with Brian McKernan (March 15, 1983)
“I don’t want Superman to be accused of being a piece of American propaganda. We’re living in a global village now, and there has to be a new heightened awareness of our interactions as people on this planet.” – The Associated Press (December 25, 1986)
“He’s not a one-man vigilante force who goes around knocking people’s heads together. He’s more reserved. Superman’s attitude is that people have to solve their own problems, they can’t always look to superheroes. That’s what makes Superman more like student council president than Rambo.” – Comics Scene (1987)
“It’s very hard for me to be silly about Superman, because I’ve seen firsthand how he actually transforms people’s lives. I have seen children dying of brain tumors who wanted as their last request to talk to me, and have gone to their graves with a peace brought on by knowing that their belief in this kind of character really matters. It’s not Superman the tongue-in-cheek cartoon character they’re connecting with; they’re connecting with something very basic: the ability to overcome obstacles, the ability to persevere, the ability to understand difficulty and to turn your back on it.” – Time, (March 14, 1988)
“The premiere was in Washington at the Kennedy Center and President Carter was there, and important world leaders. A huge audience. And that was the first time I saw the film… It got a standing ovation at the end. And I’ll never forget that moment when Superman flies for the first time at the Fortress of Solitude. That got tremendous applause, that Superman had finally taken off.” – AOL Online Chat (May 1, 2001)
“Superman, since the 1930’s, as been a very important figure in our culture…. I feel that the character is more important than the actor who plays him. But I feel that it was my privilege to be the custodian of the character in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s. I think he will always endure.” – AOL Online Chat (May 1, 2001)
“He`s a friend. Everybody needs a friend. That`s why he`s still here.” – referring to Superman`s enduring popularity – undated.
“I find that the movie is just really timeless, and after all of these years, it still holds up. And I’m really, really glad about that, and that new people are – you know, kids are finding the movie and discovering it for the first time, that the movie lives on.” – referring to Superman-The Movie – AOL Online Chat (May 1, 2001)
“To say that I believed in Superman is quite an understatement. Of course I knew it was only a movie, but it seemed to me that the values embodied by Superman on the screen should be the values that prevail in the real world.” – excerpt from “Nothing is Impossible” (2002)
“You know, when you make sequels, they have to be better each time. And you have to spend the money. I remember on Superman II (1980), we once went down to St. Lucia in the Caribbean from Pinewood–took a whole crew to get a shot of Superman picking a flower by a stream. And we had just been to Norway to get some shots of him in the snow fields. All that was scaled down by the producers of Superman IV: The Quest for Peace, and I think the film looks ersatz as a result.” – on making movie sequels – undated.
The Salkinds [producers Alexander Salkind and Ilya Salkind] wanted to make a splash. Their vision was really big. I remember much of that as being fun. The strong wind blowing the cars around, from the three baddies with their super breath, that was all staged by [Richard Lester]. And it had an element of humor to it, so it was fun for us to think of gags.” – on the famous fight scene in Superman II (1980) – undated.
“[He] was always looking for a gag – sometimes to the point where the gags involving Richard Pryor went over the top. I mean, I didn`t think that his going off the top of a building, on skis with a pink tablecloth around his shoulders, was particularly funny.” – on director Richard Lester`s filming of Superman III (1983) – undated.
“One thing about acting is that as you change, what’s open to you changes. You get dealt new cards all the time. I’m enjoying getting older. Older faces are more interesting – particularly my face, which was a little on the bland side when I was younger.” – quoted in People (June 12, 1995)
“I was worried that only acting with my voice and my face, I might not be able to communicate effectively enough to tell the story. But I was surprised to find that if I really concentrated and just let the thoughts happen, that they would read on my face.” – on his post-accident role in Rear Window (1998)
“Hollywood needs to do more. Let`s continue to take risks. Let`s tackle the issues. In many ways our film community can do it better than anyone else.” – undated.
“I refuse to allow a disability to determine how I live my life. There is only one way to go in life and that is forward.” – undated.
“Even if your body doesn’t work the way it used to, the heart and the mind and the spirit are not diminished.” – undated.
“I gradually stopped wondering, ‘What life do I have?’ and began to consider, ‘What life can I build?” – undated.
“There are no absolutes and patients should be encouraged to push as far as they can. I decided some time ago, I won’t just listen to the rules.” – undated.
“I am a very lucky guy. I can testify before Congress. I can raise funds. I can raise awareness.” – undated.
“The fact that I was in a wheelchair and dependent on others for almost every aspect of my life had not diminished the fact that I was and always would be…their Superman.” – from Chris’ book, Still Me, where he writes about the reception he got backstage at the 1996 Academy Awards shortly before he went out on stage.
“You’re sitting here fighting depression. You’re in shock. You look out the window, and you can’t believe where you are. And the thought that keeps going through your mind is, ‘This can’t be my life. There’s been a mistake.’” – Time (August 26, 1996)
“Living a life with meaning means spreading the word. Even if you can’t move, you can have a powerful effect with what you say.” – undated.
“I thought I had to put a human face on a condition that the scientists were not really able to dramatize. You have to move politically, but you also have to reach the people’s hearts.” – Time (August 26, 1996)
“Whether it’s from birth, accident or disease, disabilities can happen to anyone – to your relatives, your friends, your neighbors, or even yourself. We have to really look at the abilities that people with disabilities are capable of, and to do everything we can to bring them into the mainstream of society. That’s what (‘Without Pity’) accomplishes. It shows you the reality of what these disabilities are in people’s lives, and yet shows you the hope of living with them and overcoming them.” – The Associated Press (October 8, 1996)
“When I was injured I thought that it must be my fault, that I was being punished for being a bad person. That’s a natural reaction. But part of what helped me to turn around fairly quickly was the core of discipline I had developed over the years. It helped me to see this as a new chapter in my life rather than the end of it.” – from the Greater Washington Society of Association Executives Distinguished Speaker Series (December 2, 1996)
“We live in a time when the words impossible and unsolvable are no longer part of the scientific community’s vocabulary. Each day we move closer to trials that will not just minimize the symptoms of disease and injury but eliminate them.” – testimony to US House of Representative, 1999.
“I really am not putting any expectations or limitations on what my future will be. But I do believe that, in the not too distant future, that I will be on my feet again, and certainly, if that happens, I would think there’s another book to talk about that and the whole process that led up to it.” – AOL Online Chat (May 1, 2001)
“While some people are able to accept living with a disability, I am not one of them.” – New York Times (2002)
“I’ve just decided I won’t listen to the rules. I mean, how many people are walking around who have been told by a doctor that, ‘Oh, I’m sorry, you’ve got six months to live?’ It’s just a lot harder than I’d thought it was going to be – but that’s no excuse. You just have to keep going.” – BBC interview (2004)
“Sometimes I get jealous of people who take their ability to move for granted.” – Reader’s Digest (October 2004)
“To be able to feel the lightest touch really is a gift.” – undated.
“I refuse to allow a disability to determine how I live my life. I don’t mean to be reckless, but setting a goal that seems a bit daunting actually is very helpful toward recovery.”- undated.
“I often refer to Abraham Lincoln, who said [in 1860], “When I do good I feel good. When I do bad I feel bad. And that is my religion.” I think we all have a little voice inside us that will guide us. It may be God, I don`t know. But I think that if we shut out all the noise and clutter from our lives and listen to that voice, it will tell us the right thing to do.” – undated.
“I am getting older and time is ticking. The more time goes by the more I feel a sense of urgency and I can accept anything except for complacency.” – from a Barbara Walters interview a few months prior to his death.
Marriage and Family
“It was a case of what happens to you when you’re not looking. Happiness always sneaks up on me.” – on his marriage to Dana, quoted in People (1992)
“I always loved (Dana) very deeply, but I never knew just how deep that love was until May 27.” – the Spotlight Awards, quoted in Star (October 31, 1995)
“At the dinner table, when each of us in turn spoke a few words about what we were thankful for, Will said, ‘Dad.’” – Thanksgiving Day 1995, from “Still Me” (1998)
“You don’t want to go through life on tiptoes. Let children have their freedom and spontaneity. But don’t let them ride a bike or skate without helmets. When they’re roughhousing, make sure they’re not putting headlocks on each other.” – USA Weekend (May 15-17, 1998)
“(Will’s) absolutely thriving, and it’s enough that I’m here for him.” – Life (November 1998)
“Dana never makes me feel guilty for having created this situation. We’re just as much in love. Whether I have zero recovery or full recovery, our relationship will survive. That’s pretty incredible.” – Life (November 1998)
“I can feel his hand on mine. I can feel his arm on mine. A lot of times he climbs up into the bed, next to me, and he’ll scratch the top of my head, or he’ll just put his face against mine. I have all that feeling.” – referring to his and Dana’s son, Will Reeve.
“The thing that I want more, though, is to be able to put my arms around him. That’s what he’s entitled to. … And I believe that day is coming.” – referring to his and Dana’s son, Will Reeve.
“As parents we all have different ideas of what success means for our children. I think the most important aspect of success has to do with finding a real passion for something in life. It means a responsibility to live up to one’s potential. That has to be discovered; it can’t be forced upon a youngster growing up. We cannot expect children to be replicas of us. From the minute they emerge from the womb they are already themselves. That must be honored, and they must be given the tools and opportunities to go as far as they possibly can on their own.” – Brown University Parents’ Weekend (October 2001)
“I’m not living the life I thought I would lead… but it does have meaning, purpose. There is love, there is joy, there is laughter.” – 2001 interview (quoted in People, October 25, 2004)
“In bringing up children and relating to others, sometimes being is more important than doing.” – excerpt from “Nothing is Impossible” (2002)
“The experience of feeling like a child gave me a new perspective on being a father. I became acutely aware that virtually everything that parents say and do has a powerful effect on children, even when we think they’re not paying attention. We have to constantly monitor the level of communication and be ready to take action if a child is tuning us out or having difficulty expressing his or her feelings.” – excerpt from “Nothing is Impossible” (2002)
“I believe that becoming a parent is a gift, even though parenting means taking on an enormous responsibility. It’s a miracle that a child can come into the world and instinctively give us unconditional love. If we can return that kind of love and provide a nurturing environment, the responsibility becomes less challenging.” – excerpt from “Nothing is Impossible” (2002)
“Real love, and the ability to love somebody as damaged as I was, that is a very rare and precious thing.” – undated (quoted in People, October 25, 2004)
Wit and Humor
“There was this guy wearing a blue scrub hat and a yellow gown and with a Russian accent, being some insane Russian doctor . . . I laughed for the first time, and I knew that life was going to be okay.” – talking about Robin Williams` visiting him in the hospital shortly after the accident. – undated.
“He used to be in a band, but now he’s into rehabilitation.” – Reeve about his physical therapist Glenn “Juice” Miller, at the Spotlight Awards, quoted in People (October 30, 1995)
“We managed until the very last minute to keep the secret (of the 1996 Oscar appearance). Me and the author of ‘Primary Colors.’” – People (April 15, 1996)
“Mr. President, I’ve seen your train go by, and I think I can beat it. I’ll even give you a head start.” – Democratic National Convention (August 26, 1996)
“I guess a prerequisite to living in Princeton is that you have to be able to sing.” – People (January 27, 1997)
“When I’m out of this chair you can take it, put a Chevy 350 engine in it, and blast down the freeway.” – The Tonight Show with Jay Leno (undated)
“There were a lot of women who would come to the gym where I was working out, and they wanted to see if I was appropriately cast as Superman. It’s all in good fun.” – CNN People Profile (1999)
“Once a nurse asked me if I liked my wheelchair. I told her I didn’t exactly like it, but it was a good thing to legally drink and drive at the same time.” – excerpt from “Nothing is Impossible” (2002)
“During one of his many visits to our home (Robin Williams) watched a nurse suction secretions from my trachea with a coughalator, basically a vacuum cleaner for the lungs. Robin grabbed it and went to work on the bedspread, then the curtains, and was about to start on the carpet before his new toy was taken away from him.” – excerpt from “Nothing is Impossible” (2002)
“I truly feel that if you understand yourself and set goals without the regulations and limitations others put on you, then nothing is impossible.” – undated.
“Living in fear is not living at all.” – undated.
“It’s pretty irrefutable that you can help yourself. I just don’t believe in ultimatums.” – undated.
”Gratitude, like love, needs to be active.” – undated.
“By reaching out, more comes back than you can possibly imagine.” – undated.
“You should have a dream and absolutely go for it. Don’t let anybody say you can’t do it.” – undated.
“We all have powers within us that we don’t know exist until we’re tested. There are no limitations to what you can do if you have the determination.” – undated.
“Once you choose hope, anything’s possible.” – undated.
“The key to success is letting the relationships in your life grow to the highest levels they possibly can . . . not putting yourself first in life and remembering that the more you give away, the more you have.” – undated.
“Your body is not who you are. The mind and spirit transcend the body.” – undated.
“I want to thank you for giving me my life.” – statement to Dr. John Jane (May-June 1995)
“(Life) is like a game of cards. Sometimes you get (lucky), and sometimes you don’t. But I think the game is worthwhile.” – interview with Barbara Walters, 20/20 (September 29, 1995)
“You can do anything you think you can.” – statement to patients at an Ohio rehabilitation hospital, quoted in People (March 1996)
“So many of our dreams at first seem impossible, then they seem improbable, and then, when we summon the will, they soon become inevitable.” – Democratic National Convention (August 26, 1996)
“When John Kennedy promised that by the end of the 1960’s we would put a man on the moon, everybody, including the scientists, shook their heads in dismay. But we did it. We can cure spinal-cord injuries too, if there’s the will. What was possible in outer space is possible in inner space.” – Time (August 26, 1996)
“Self-pity comes in the beginning. And it does recur. But what you begin to say to yourself, instead of ‘What life do I have?’ is ‘What life can I build?’ And the answer, surprisingly, is, ‘More than you think.’” – Time (August 26, 1996)
“It is not a question of if, but when.” – People (January 27, 1997)
“You’ve got to give more than you take.” – undated.
“The idea is that you get another chance – in life, in relationships – if you’re open to it. If I never go anywhere again, this will have been worth it.” – People (January 27, 1997)
“The mind and body are connected… The body expresses what the mind is trying to suppress. But if you have a positive attitude, and the faith and love of people around you, you heal faster.” – USA Weekend (May 15-17, 1998)
“As the old saying goes, you better know what you want because you might get it and you’ve got to accept it. Whether you succeed or whether you encounter adversity, you always have to believe in your worth as a person. That’s what counts.” – Portland, Oregon success seminar (February 6, 2001)
“For the survivors of the attacks upon our nation that occurred on Tuesday, September 11, hope provides them the strength to confront psychological trauma that I can’t imagine. For the rescue workers, hope keeps them going day after day… For America, hope allows us to overcome our grief and our fear, to believe that our wounds will heal and our nation will come through this tragedy as strong and great as ever.” – Walking Tomorrow (Winter 2001)
“In the face of adversity, hope often comes in the form of a friend who reaches out to us.” – excerpt from “Nothing is Impossible” (2002)
“When the unthinkable happens, the lighthouse is hope. Once we find it, we must cling to it with absolute determination… When we have hope, we discover powers within ourselves we may have never known – the power to make sacrifices, to endure, to heal, and to love. Once we choose hope, everything is possible. We are all on this sea together. But the lighthouse is always there, ready to show us the way home.” – excerpt from “Nothing is Impossible” (2002)
“For everyone who thought I couldn’t do it… for everyone who thought I shouldn’t do it… for everyone who said, ‘It’s impossible’… see you at the finish line!” – undated (quoted in People, October 25, 2004)
“A hero is someone who in spite of weakness, doubt or not always knowing the answers goes ahead and overcomes anyway.” – undated.
“I think a hero is an ordinary individual who finds strength to persevere and endure in spite of overwhelming obstacles.” – undated.
Dana Reeve’s Words
“Your emotional state has a tremendous amount to do with sickness, health and well-being. For years, my husband and I lived on — and because of — hope. Hope continues to give me the mental strength to carry on.” – undated.
“Some of the choices in life will choose you. How you face those choices, these turns in the road, with what kind of attitude, more than the choices themselves, is what will define the context of your life.” – undated.
“Take care of yourself and be caring with others. Nurture a sense of gratitude, and be grateful for a sense of humor. Be sure to thank your parents and mentors for all they’ve given you, but give love to your future children and mentees freely without any expectation of thanks in return. Look for ways to let your light shine, but don’t be afraid occasionally to be in the dark. Strive to make your behavior above reproach, but be careful not to cast judgment on others whose behavior may reflect a different form of reality. The more you give, the richer you will become. Let your life be enhanced by the company you keep.” – undated.