Paralysed Superman actor Christopher Reeve died of heart failure on Sunday (10OCT04). He was 52.

The movie star's publicist WESLEY COMBS announced Reeve passed away in New York state's Northern Westchester Hospital on Sunday with his family by his side.

Reeve had been receiving treatment from the hospital for several weeks for a pressure wound - a common complication for people living with paralysis - which had become infected last week (ends08OCT04). He fell into a coma on Saturday (09OCT04) after suffering a heart attack in his home.

Reeve's wife DANA said in a statement, "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."

The New York city-born star began his acting career part-time while studying for a degree at Ithaca's Cornell University. In his final year, he was selected to study at the prestigious Juilliard School Of Performing Arts.

Reeve leapt to international fame after he landed the role of superhero Superman in 1978, at the age of 26. He went on to win a BAFTA award for his performance as Clark Kent, before reprising his role in the sequels Superman II in 1980 and SUPERMAN III in 1983.

The actor had been confined to a wheelchair since a near-fatal horse-riding accident in Virginia in May 1995, when he fractured the top two vertebrae in his neck and damaged his spinal cord.

After coming to terms with his paralysis, Reeve set up the CHRISTOPHER REEVE PARALYSIS FOUNDATION and lobbied Congress to fund more research into spinal injuries.

In 2002 Reeve and Dana opened America's first centre devoted to teaching paralysed people to live more independently in New Jersey.

Reeve returned to acting in 1998 in the TV remake of HITCHCOCK thriller Rear Window opposite Daryl Hannah, playing a paralysed architect who believes he witnesses a murder from the window of his home. He was awarded a SCREEN ACTORS GUILD (SAG) gong for his performance.

In 2003 and in April this year (04), Reeve played DR VIRGIL SWANN in two episodes of Superman TV series SMALLVILLE.

The Superman star is survived by his wife Dana and their son WILL. He has two children MATTHEW and ALEXANDRA from a previous relationship with GAE EXTON.

11/10/2004 09:40