Dana Reeve, widow of Chris Reeve, dies at 44

The Curse of Superman, the superstitious belief that wreaks havoc with those associated to TV and movies about the legendary superhero, seemed to claim another life yesterday. Dana Reeve, the widow of filmdom's Superman Christopher Reeve, died of lung cancer late Monday night. She was 44.

Dana Reeve was diagnosed with cancer last August, only days after ABC World News Tonight's Peter Jennings died of the same disease. According to the American Cancer Society, lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death among both men and women, with about 60 percent of victims dying within a year of diagnosis. Lung cancer can be contracted through smoking (Reeve did not smoke), asbestos inhalation, or breathing in secondhand smoke.

Chrisopher Reeve died in 2004 at the age of 52 after being paralyzed from the neck down in a horse-riding accident in 1995. After her husband's death, Dana Reeve chaired the Christopher Reeve Foundation and founded the Christopher and Dana Reeve Paralysis Resource Center. The foundations focused on paralysis and spinal cord research, raising more than $55 million for neuroscience studies.

"Dana will always be remembered for her passion, strength, and ceaseless courage that became her hallmark," said foundation president Kathy Lewis.

In a statement, US Senator and Reeve family friend John Kerry said, "Dana gave voice to a movement to find life-saving cures and promote medical research, and when she lost her inspiration and love she didn't stop the fight."

The Superman Curse stems from the unfortunate events that often befall those associated with Superman films and television series.

George Reeves, star of the 1950s TV series Adventures of Superman, was found dead of a gunshot wound to the head in 1959. His death was ruled a suicide, but his fingerprints were not found on the weapon.

Superman film stars Margot Kidder and Richard Pryor also had runs of bad luck, with Kidder suffering a nervous breakdown and Pryor contracting MS soon after appearing in Superman 3.

1940s cartoon Superman voice Bud Collyer died of a circulatory illness after returning to voice a new Superman series in 1968.

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