The curtain came down on one of life’s great ironies when actor Christopher Reeve died, observed Mark Lore, president and CEO of Rideaway Handicap Equipment Corp. in Londonderry. Reeve, best known for his starring role in a series of “Superman” movies, had been paralyzed for several years from a spinal cord injury suffered in a fall from a horse in 1995. He died Oct. 10 at age 52.
“It’s one of life’s huge ironies, this Superman relegated to being able to move only his head and his lips,” said Lore, who sold two specially designed vans to Reeve and his wife Dana in 1996 and 2001. The Reeves had heard of the New Hampshire company while the actor was at a rehabilitation facility in New Jersey, Lore said.
Though Reeve was immobile from the neck down and depended on a ventilator for breathing, he continued to make appearances, primarily as an advocate for spinal cord research. He also returned to Hollywood as a film director and starred in a 1998 TV movie, a remake of the Alfred Hitchcock thriller, “Rear Window,” about a wheelchair-bound man who is convinced a neighbor has been murdered.
“He was a very active guy” despite the paralysis, Lore said. “I was always reading about him going somewhere, speaking somewhere.”
While a hero to many, Reeve was, nonetheless, a controversial figure in his advocacy role, Lore said.
“He was controversial in the spinal cord injury society because he was always looking for a cure. About half of that society wanted to push for finding a cure and said, ‘Let’s push for more money,’” Lore said. The other half said that was too distant a goal. “They said, ‘Let’s fight for equal rights in jobs, housing, things like that. Let’s fight a system that keeps us in poverty because of the way Medicaid works.’”
His meetings with the Superman of screen lore were brief but memorable, Lore said. “I was impressed with how absolutely nice and cordial Christopher and his wife Dana were to us and our people,” he said. “They were just great people.”