CHRISTOPHER REEVE Biography - Other artists & entretainers


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Christopher Reeve was born September 25, 1952, in New York City. When he was four, his parents (journalist Barbara Johnson and writer/professor Franklin Reeve) divorced. His mother moved with sons Christopher and Benjamin to Princeton, New Jersey, and married an investment banker a few years later. After the divorce, the boys also spent substantial visitation time with their father, who writing under the name F. D. Reeve, is a noted novelist, poet, and scholar of Russian literature. While with him, Chris and Ben were exposed to a stimulating intellectual environment that included Sunday dinners with F. D. Reeve’s friends: Robert Frost, Robert Penn Warren, and Daniel Patrick Moynihan. Meanwhile, Reeve’s stepfather, Tristam Johnson, generously paid tuition for the boys to attend an exclusive private school, Princeton Day School, for the academic challenge.


Reeve traces his love of acting back to the early years of his childhood when he and his younger brother would climb inside cardboard grocery cartons and pretend they were pirate ships. "To us they became pirate ships simply because we said they were." Reeve continues with "The ability to retain at least some of this childhood innocence is essential to fine acting." By age eight, he had appeared in school plays, become interested in music, and was taking piano lessons. At age nine, he was picked to be in a Gilbert & Sullivan operetta Yeoman of the Guard for Princeton’s professional theater, the McCarter Theatre. "While I was growing up," Reeve recalls, "I never once asked myself, ‘Who am I?’ or ‘What am I doing?’ Right from the beginning, the theater was like home to me. It seemed to be what I did best. I never doubted that I belonged in it." Those he worked with were convinced as well. Milton Lyon, the Artistic Director of the McCarter Theatre who did Finian’s Rainbow and South Pacific with Reeve, told him when he was about 14 years old: "Chris, you better decide what you want, because you’re going to get it."


At Princeton Day School, Reeve participated in various school activities including being President of the Drama Club and the Student Director of The Glee Club. Reeve later said about those years, "I loved the theater so much. But I began to feel guility. I thought I wasn’t giving enough time to school. So I joined as many school clubs and teams as I could. I played on the ice hockey team. I was in the school orchestra. I even sang with a choral group!" Reeve recently explained why he did not go into ice hockey, a sport he has great love for that he played from the peewee level through high school where he was Princeton Day’s number one goalie for all four years, as a full-time career by remembering a time when his varsity team was the NCAA champion and Ken Dryden was the goalie. Reeve says about his decision, "On the first day of practice for the freshman team, I noticed that there were only two Americans and the rest were Canadians. I was in the goal, and the whole team lined up on the blue line, each with a puck, and they were supposed to take turns going from left to right taking a slapshot. They started to get out of sequence, and sometimes two or three were coming at me, faster than I’d ever seen a puck come at me in my entire lifetime. I got absolutely shelled, and I thought, ‘You know, I’m probably going to end up with no teeth,’ and so I retreated to the safety of the theatre department. That was the end of my hockey career. In retrospect, I made the right choice. And I still have all my teeth." He continued getting parts at school and at the McCarter. At age 15, Reeve got a summer apprenticeship at the Williamstown Theater Festival in Massachusetts. By age 16, he had an agent.