October 11, 2004


I wanted him to walk again someday. And I really believed he would.

I think it's extraordinarily weird when people develop strong emotional ties to celebrities. There are actors I think are really talented, and there are celeb crushes I had when I was a kid, but no celebrity could really hit me on an emotional level.

Well, except for one.

Many of you already know my family's fascination with Superman. We watched all of the movies when I was a kid, and Superman was our hero. We had Superman birthday cakes and Superman pajamas. And we loved Superman because he reminded us of our father. My dad doesn't look exactly like Christopher Reeve, but the resemblance was striking enough. My father also alternated between glasses and contacts, so we called him Clark Kent and we bought him a SuperDad shirt.

Superman stands for everything that I think is good: truth, justice, and the American way. He represents integrity, fortitude, and honor. Lois Lane was the ambulance chaser; Clark was the honest and respectful one. Superman embodied all that I admire in a man.

When Christopher Reeve was injured in 1995, he worried that people would laugh: Superman was now paralyzed. But he never stopped being my Superman. I looked at him in that wheelchair and I saw a father-figure, someone we had idolized as children who now had to put all of his Superman qualities to the test. And I truly believed he would walk again. I knew he had it in his heart. And I'm crushed that he ran out of time.

So I spent the first few hours of my birthday crying for a celebrity. Ridiculous, I know, but he's the only one who mattered to me. Throughout my childhood, he represented everything that was perfect in man; throughout my adulthood, he represented struggling with imperfection. I cared very deeply for this man, and my heart is aching.

In his book Still Me, he laid out perfectly how I felt about him:

During my stay in Hollywood I entered hotels and buildings through garages, kitchens, and service elevators, and met cooks, waiters, chambermaids, and maintenance crews. Many of them said that they were praying for me. Others looked me right in the eye and said, "We love you, Superman. You're our hero." At first I couldn't believe they meant it. Then I realized they were looking past the chair and honoring me for a role that obviously had real meaning for them. I didn't feel patronized in any way. Clearly a part I had played twenty years before was still valued. The fact that I was in a wheelchair, unable to move below my shoulders, and dependent on the support of others for almost every aspect of my daily life had not diminished the fact that I was--and always would be--their Superman.

Posted by: Sarah at 05:14 AM | Comments (12) | Add Comment
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1 You beat Drudge with this by several hours.

Posted by: John at October 11, 2004 07:58 AM (crTpS)

2 To quote Remember the titans... "You can't be hurt.. your Superman!" Damm.. Gonna have to rent that once I return Space Cowboys... We need more heros... He was a hero.. still is.. just not the one one he played on screen...

Posted by: LarryConley at October 11, 2004 08:03 AM (aontM)

3 Yeah...when i heard he died, my first thought was, we're going to miss you superman. It's almost a turning of an era I think. I was just discussing with someone about how the heroes that are presented today seem like their heroism is by accident, but a fluke of nature and not by their own moral beliefs, which is what superman represented. And even when he was paralyzed, he still retained that superman quality. The wheelchair and vent mattered not. he could still fly in his mind. he wouldn't give up. who is our hero today? anyone? They are all the heroes of our childhood. I remember watching the lone ranger (re-runs of course, I'm not that old) when I was a kid. They were so hokey, but he always stood against the bad guys and he always won. Where will we find our heroes now?

Posted by: kat-missouri at October 11, 2004 09:17 PM (yfrm2)

4 ""Where will we find our heroes now? "" http://www.thedonovan.com/archives/002685.html Its not hard......

Posted by: LarryConley at October 12, 2004 02:00 AM (aontM)

5 I was so sad to hear of his death. What an amazing man. I do believe he was a hero, not for a role as he played, but for his strength and courage, and for his ability to give others hope. He will be missed. Kat, I have lots of heroes these days, the difference is I know them personally..and have the honor of being to married to one of them for 16 years.

Posted by: Tink at October 12, 2004 04:52 AM (S6VXg)

6 Kev has word on another true hero who died just this week.

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