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Remembering Christopher Reeve

This is a partial transcript from "On the Record," Oct. 11, 2004, that has been edited for clarity.

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GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, HOST: Tonight Christopher Reeve is being remembered as a true superhero, a man who turned his personal tragedy into a public crusade, bringing hope to millions in the face of his untimely death. Reeve, paralyzed since a near-fatal horse-riding accident in 1995, has died at age 52. Just last Tuesday, Reeve was on the road, championing spinal cord injury research in Chicago. He also just finished directing his second TV movie about a girl determined to go to college after being paralyzed in a car accident. In a moment, we're going to be joined by the lead actress. Reeve's personal doctors will also join us.

But first, our next guest sat down with Reeve in August to discuss the movie for a "Reader's Digest" cover story interview on newsstands tonight. Alanna Nash joins us from Louisville, Kentucky.

Welcome, Alanna. And obviously, sad news for all of us tonight. But you just spent time with him. Your thoughts tonight?

ALANNA NASH, "READER'S DIGEST": I was very, very saddened to hear of his death, but it was not unexpected with me, actually, Greta, from when I visited with him in August. He had just fought so many infections for so long.

VAN SUSTEREN: How do you describe his mood when you sat down with him in August for this interview?

NASH: Well, he was a little puzzled about why he kept having these life-threatening infections. That was his third. He was recovering from his third of the year in August. But he was absolutely determined to keep fighting and to make plans for the future. His paralysis act was coming before Congress in the fall, and as you mentioned, "The Brooke Ellison Story," is on A&E on October 25. And he was very upbeat about those things.

VAN SUSTEREN: Did he realize that he was sort of an inspiration to the rest of us, that, you know, many of us had watched for years, this 10- year journey that he's had and, you know, how disappointing in many ways — but did he realize he was an inspiration to others?

NASH: I think he was because he heard that from so many people. And he also volunteered to counsel people who were recent victims of spinal cord injury and who were contemplating suicide, as he himself did when this first happened to him. He would get on the phone with somebody as often as once a week and talk them out of it. I think he was very proud when he told me that he hadn't lost anybody yet.

VAN SUSTEREN: Did he have hope?

NASH: He absolutely had hope. He was not as optimistic that he would walk again because he was a month shy of his 52nd birthday and he was aware that aging was slowing everything down. And of course, his injuries were chronic. They weren't acute. And you have better recovery prospects if your injuries are acute.

VAN SUSTEREN: But the injuries — I mean, the recent — the problems he's had, though, were recent, the three infections this year. Until then, he had had relatively — and I use the term relatively — good health since his accident.

NASH: Yes. He had regained sensation over about 70 percent of his body. He had had setbacks. He had dislocated his hip during an exercise program. And he was getting infections from his pool therapy. But on the whole, he was in amazingly good shape, and he boasted about that. He was very proud of that.

VAN SUSTEREN: When is the last time you spoke to him? Was it when you interviewed him in August?

NASH: I interviewed him twice in August. So yes, August 5 and August 8.

VAN SUSTEREN: What did he say about his family life? Because I know his wife has been a tremendous support for him.

NASH: He basically said that he would not have lived beyond the seven years that is the usual expectation for people with these injuries without the love and support of his family and the fact that he himself was needed, through his foundation and in speaking directly with other people who had undergone this kind of injury. So those were the things that really kept him going. And he spoke about how the accident had changed him. He said that he now had a generosity of spirit that he had not had before and that he was much more sensitive to people's needs.

VAN SUSTEREN: In terms of his work, he's also got this new movie coming up that's going to be on — he spoke about that?

NASH: He did. He was very proud of that. It's so sad that he's not going to see that actually air. But he wanted — it was important to him to direct "The Brooke Ellison Story" because he wanted people to see that if you have this kind of injury, you can live a normal life and you can have a high quality of life.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, Alanna. Alanna, thank you very much for joining us.

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