This is a different post than you’d probably expect to find here, so just stick with me. A couple of nights ago, I was surfing the ‘net for a couple of my favorite songs from the movie, Fame. Naturally, I ended up watching part of the 5th People’s Choice Awards. (It’s called “quantum thinking”, it’s a thing now and I’m quite good at it.)
On March 7, 1979, Dick van Dyke was hosting the show and introduced Christopher Reeve, who would be announcing the winner of Favorite Male Performer in a New TV Program. Robin Williams secured the honor for his performance on Mork and Mindy.
This is where things began to get slightly bittersweet for me.
Robin Williams was a comic whose talent was out of this world. Christopher Reeve was the man who performance of the comic book superhero from another world would be remembered as the definitive face of Superman for my generation.
The friendship these two men began in 1973, when approximately 2,000 students auditioned for 20 places in the freshman class at Juilliard. Reeve and Williams were the only students selected for Juilliard’s Advanced Program, and they had several classes together in which they were the only students.
We know that in 1993, two years before Reeve’s accident, he gave breath to Superman for the last time. On May 27, 1995, Reeve was left quadriplegic after being thrown from a horse during an equestrian competition in Culpeper, Virginia. He died October 10, 2004.
And we know that on August 11, 2014, Williams committed suicide in his home at the age of 63.
But this was still March 7, 1979. I watched the video, nearly holding my breath as Reeve rose in an elevator. In spite of the fact that this ceremony was several years before Reeve’s accident, it had been so long since I had not seen him in a wheelchair that I was still surprised to see him standing tall. First, I saw his head, then his shoulders, his torso, and finally, his legs. It was beautiful to watch him take the long strides toward the podium as Superman’s theme played. He was Superman, giving his best friend an award that would be the first of many to come.
They were two young men with the world ahead of them and time on their side. And I realized that on that night, they were blissfully ignorant of the future that, for the rest of us, had been been history several years already.
For many of us, Reeve had become the superhero who’d lost the ability to move from the neck down. And Williams was the comic who was able to make anyone laugh – except himself. But for a few magical moments on the evening of March 7, 1979, all was right with the world for two young men who’d been roommates and friends at Julliard.
For the moment, life was really, really good! See for yourself.