Ms. Reeve was 44. After the death of her actor husband, who had been paralyzed for a decade following a riding accident, Ms. Reeve became the face and voice of those seeking advances in research for spinal cord injuries.
Although she died of lung cancer, she was not a smoker.
Ms. Reeve was an actress, but her most high-profile role was in recent years when she served as Chair of the Christopher Reeve Foundation (CRF) and founder of the Christopher and Dana Reeve Paralysis Resource Center. CRF announced her death.
Ms. Reeve's one Broadway credit was Rob Bartlett's comedy More to Love in 1998, but she had many regional theatre credits and was a cabaret singer when she caught the eye of Reeve, the handsome actor known for "Superman" and "Somewhere in Time." They married in 1992.
Ms. Reeve was also on the board of the Williamstown Theatre Festival in Massachusetts, once a stomping ground for young actor Christopher Reeve and young actress Dana Morosini. Roger Rees, artistic director of the WTF, said March 7, "Giving tirelessly and joyously to a life in art, Dana Reeve worked her way through our Festival from lowly apprentice to international star. Her life is everything we at the Williamstown Theatre Festival believe in. Dana met her husband, Christopher, at the Festival. From Williamstown they went on to be loved by everyone, in and out of the business. Whenever she was needed, Dana was always there for Williamstown. We mourn her loss, of course, but let us celebrate, too, this vibrant, optimistic, beautiful and thrillingly talented actress."
Ms. Reeve was also a board member of the Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey.
In 2003, she appeared in the 9/11-themed Off-Broadway play, Portraits. She also collected TV credits over the years.
In fall 2004 she created a role in the world premiere of Donald Margulies' Brooklyn Boy at South Coast Rep but withdrew due to personal family reasons before the production moved to Broadway in early 2005.
A native New Yorker, Ms. Reeve was born Dana Morosini in 1961. She is survived by her father, Dr. Charles Morosini, sisters Deborah Morosini and Adrienne Morosini Heilman, her son Will and two stepchildren, Matthew and Alexandra. The family has requested privacy during this difficult time.
At this time, no plans for a funeral have been announced. For those who care to do so, donations may be made in Ms. Reeve's memory to the Christopher Reeve Foundation, 636 Morris Turnpike, Short Hills, New Jersey 07078 or online at www.ChristopherReeve.org.
Kathy Lewis, President and CEO of CRF, issued the following statement:
"On behalf of the entire Board of Directors and staff of the Christopher Reeve Foundation, we are extremely saddened by the death of Dana Reeve, whose grace and courage under the most difficult of circumstances was a source of comfort and inspiration to all of us. The Foundation extends our deepest condolences and sympathy to the entire Reeve and Morosini families.
"Dana will always be remembered for her passion, strength and ceaseless courage that became her hallmark. Along with her husband Christopher, she faced adversity with grace and determination, bringing hope to millions around the world.
"In addition to being a wonderful mother, actress, singer, author, motivational speaker and advocate, she was a founding board member of the Christopher Reeve Foundation and succeeded her late husband, Christopher Reeve, as chair in 2004. Ms. Reeve established the Foundation's Quality of Life initiatives: the Quality of Life grants program and the Christopher & Dana Reeve Paralysis Resource Center. Since its inception in 1999, the Quality of Life grants program has awarded more than $8 million to support programs and projects that improve the daily lives of people living with paralysis.
"After Christopher's death, Dana was determined to preserve the important work and the legacy of hope that became his life's mission. Even in our grief, the Foundation must pick up and continue to Go Forward with this mission. At the same time, we commit ourselves to ensuring that the light of grace, courage and hopefulness that Dana embodied continues to shine bright - bringing comfort and hope to people living with paralysis and their families and caregivers.
"Dana's courage and conviction leave us all with an abiding faith in every person's ability to make an important difference. We GO FORWARD because it is the responsibility of everyone touched by this remarkable woman to carry on the work of the Foundation."