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Actor Christopher Reeve dead

Christopher Reeve with wife Dana

Actor Christopher Reeve, 52, who was mentioned by Sen. John Kerry in Friday night’s presidential debate, died last night of heart failure.

Publicist Wesley Combs told the Associated Press Reeve, who became a quadriplegic in a horseback riding accident nearly a decade ago, fell into a coma Saturday after going into cardiac arrest at his New York home.

Reeve was under treatment at Northern Westchester Hospital for a pressure wound resulting from his paralysis. The wound had become severely infected in the past week.

“On behalf of my entire family, I want to thank Northern Westchester Hospital for the excellent care they provided to my husband,” Dana Reeve, his wife, said in a statement. “I also want to thank his personal staff of nurses and aides, as well as the millions of fans from around the world who have supported and loved my husband over the years.”

In a Chicago Sun-Times report just one week ago, Reeve was described as “positive, upbeat and totally focused on his recovery” and “blessed with a supportive family and group of friends.”

He was a leading advocate for biological and rehabilitation research to find cures for paralysis patients.

Kerry cited him as an advocate for embryonic stem cell research.

Reeve, known also for his film role as “Superman,” told the Sun-Times his campaign “continues to instill in me a tremendous sense of optimism and hope that I’ll someday walk – because I see amazing advances every day.”

The actor said his marriage became even stronger after his injury.

”My relationship with Dana went from close to profound,” he said.

Reeve was in Chicago during the last week of September to headline the 50th anniversary of the acclaimed Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago.