Health: He Never Gave Up

What actor and activist Christopher Reeve taught scientists about the treatment of spinal-cord injury

In public, Christopher Reeve usually played the stoic, silently enduring the indignities of paralysis. In private, he was more candid. He had vowed, shortly after the 1995 horseback-riding injury that left him a quadriplegic, that he would walk again by his 50th birthday. That milestone came--and went--in 2002. "I'm tired of being noble," he confessed shortly afterward in a long conversation with TIME. "I try to go about this with as much dignity as I can, but not a day goes by when I don't make some effort to get out of this situation."

Dignity and effort are good words to describe how Reeve lived the...