|Did Robin Williams Pay Christopher Reeve's Medical Bills?|
|Netlore Archive: Rumor circulating since 1996 claims that comedian Robin Williams, lifelong friend of actor Christopher Reeve, promised to pay all the medical bills resulting from the accident that left Reeve paralyzed|
Email example contributed by T. Karr, 15 October 2004:
Subject: Christopher Reeve (fwd)
From Biran Fernandez - a friend of Christopher Reeve and his family.
Most folks are not aware that when Chris Reeve was injured, he had no medical insurance. You can imagine the costs were staggering and his family was caught in a difficult position. Without fanfare or publicity, someone stepped forward and paid all of his medical bills from the day of the accident until recently. His name? Robin Williams. This isnt urban legend we know the family.
Next time you see Robin Williams, remember there is an amazing heart of gold under that wild and crazy exterior. And he never asked for recognition or favor for his incredible support.
Comments: The world lost an accomplished actor and a fine, brave human being when 52-year-old Christopher "Superman" Reeve died of cardiac arrest on Sunday, October 10, 2004. Reeve had been a quadriplegic ever since falling from a horse in 1995 and had become known as a tireless champion of paralysis research.
The rumor that his lifelong friend, comedian Robin Williams, had promised to pay all of Reeve's medical bills began circulating within six months of the accident. It gained international currency thanks to the British tabloids, one of which, the Sunday Mirror, reported in early 1996 that Williams had secretly handed Reeve a "blank cheque" for 1.5 million pounds. According to the London Daily Star, the two had made a pact when they were struggling acting students at Juilliard some 22 years earlier to the effect that whoever made it big first would help the other. The story was picked up by U.S. wire services, which noted that Reeve's health insurance benefits were expected to run out later that same year.
That report was, to put it charitably, premature. Two years later, the Toronto Star was still reporting that Reeve's medical expenses were "quickly approaching the limit that his actors' union insurance will pay." But by then, the unstoppable Reeve, though still severely hampered by his disability, was making a steady income from speaking engagements, a book contract, acting appearances and directing films.
Rumor denied by both Reeve and Williams
From the start, both Reeve and Williams denied the rumor that the latter was paying all of Reeve's medical bills. Reeve did so through his agent in a San Francisco Chronicle article dated January 31, 1996. Williams did the same in an interview on the TV show "Extra" on February 12, 1996.
Not that Williams and Reeve's other show business pals didn't help out in smaller ways from time to time. "We bought Chris a van and a generator," Williams told The Mirror in 1999. "It was really frightening because where Chris and his family live in Connecticut the winters are very harsh. One night the generator they had for Chris crapped out, so there was Chris's wife Dana outside in the middle of the night trying to hand-crank the thing. Now Chris has his own income because of his book, his record and various other sources so he's financially independent and pays his own bills."
Gift of laughter
Williams' most valuable contributions, Reeve attested again and again, were the simple gifts of friendship and laughter. At a tribute dinner in 1995, he described his first reunion with the comic in a hospital room five days after the accident that left him paralyzed:
"I was hanging upside down, and I looked and saw a blue scrub hat and yellow gown and heard this Russian accent. There was Robin Williams being some insane Russian doctor. I laughed, and I knew I was going to be all right."
Sources and further reading:
- "1996 News Reports." Christopher Reeve Homepage.
- "Catastrophe's Continuing Toll." San Francisco Chronicle, 31 January 1996.
- "Friends Indeed." USA Today, 30 October 1995.
- "He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother." Knight-Ridder News Service, 3 January 1996.
- "I Work or I Die." Sunday Mirror, 16 March 1997.
- "Man of Steel Willpower." Toronto Star, 13 December 1998.
- "People." U.S. News & World Report, 15 January 1996.
- "'Superman' Christopher Reeve Dies." E! Online News, 11 October 2004.
- "Superpal." Sunday Mirror, 10 March 1996.
Last updated: 10/16/04