A private memorial for Christopher Reeve has been held in his New York home. The family of the deceased Superman star, who died of heart failure last Sunday, said they were overwhelmed by the public?s support; a spokesman for the family said: "It is clear that Christopher Reeve has touched the hearts of millions of people around the world and that is the legacy he leaves behind". A larger memorial service will be announced next week.

Reeve became a star overnight after winning the role of Superman when he was 26. Although live-action comic book films are now a commonplace Hollywood product, there was much trepidation regarding the film?s release, as many were worried that the sight of a man in a blue spandex suit and red underwear would engender laughter rather than empathy and awe. Fortunately, Reeve gave an excellent, knowing performance, and was largely responsible for the Superman films? massive box office success.

Although he never found an ideal role to break him away from the Superman image, he gave strong performances in two Merchant Ivory films ? The Bostonians and The Remains Of The Day. With cruel irony, one of the last roles he was to play before infamous horse-riding accident was as a paralysis victim in Above Suspicion. After his accident, he became a paraplegic, but he continued to act, winning a Screen Actors Guild award for the James Stewart role in the TV remake of Hitchcock?s Rear Window.

It has just been announced that an animated film he had been working on will still be released despite the star?s demise ? Yankee Living, about a father?s relationship with his baseball-laying son, is due to be released in 2006.