I posted a blog entry a couple of days ago about the film Somewhere in Time, the actor Christopher Reeve, and the catastrophic accident that left him a quadriplegic. But there are some other things to say on the topic that some might find of interest:
It seems that the character of “Elise McKenna,” who is played by Jane Seymour in Somewhere in Time — and who originated in the 1975 novel Bid Time Return, by Richard Matheson, on which the movie is based — was inspired by the legendary American stage actress Maude Adams, who became most famous for her performance as “Peter Pan,” beginning in 1905. At one point, Adams was apparently earning more than a million dollars each year.
Maude Adams was born in Salt Lake City and had Latter-day Saints in her extended family. It’s not clear, however, whether or not she was ever a member of the Church. (The 2015 LDS Living article “The Mormon Whose Life Inspired One of the Most Iconic Romance Movies of All Time,” kindly brought to my attenton by reader “Joseph M,” goes just a tad beyond the evidence of which I’m aware, anyway.)
But there is no question that “Elise McKenna” was suggested by Maude Adams.
“I stopped at a hotel in Virginia City once and saw a photo of Maude Adams, the 1900s actress,” Matheson told Deseret News writer Dennis Lythgoe in a 2005 phone interview from his California home, “and she fascinated me so much I could see a man falling in love with her and wanting to travel back. I still think that is the best book I’ve ever written.”
I remember the first time that I saw the photo of Maude Adams above. It was in Salt Lake City’s Pioneer Theater, and I too found it sharply arresting. Most people in old photographs look . . . well, like people in old photographs. Somehow, though, Maude Adams seemed contemporary, as if she could step right out of the photo. I can understand Richard Matheson’s reaction to the image. And “Richard Collier’s.”
Quite understandably, Christopher Reeve considered suicide after his devastating injury. However, his wife stood firmly, remarkably, by him and he soon surrendered the idea. Still he struggled with discouragement and depression, especially alone at night.
At one point in June 1995, he was facing surgery to reattach his skull to his spine. He had only a fifty percent chance of even surviving the operation.
“Then,” recalls in his memoir, “at an especially bleak moment, the door flew open and in hurried a squat fellow with a blue scrub hat and a yellow surgical gown and glasses, speaking in a Russian accent.” The man introduced himself as a proctologist and announced that he was there to perform a rectal exam on Reeve. It was Robin Williams, an old friend from student days at the Juilliard School, reprising his character from the film Nine Months. “For the first time since the accident,” Reeve wrote afterwards, “I laughed. My old friend had helped me know that somehow I was going to be okay.”
Unfortunately, nobody was home for Robin Williams on 11 August 2014.
Finally, the most important thing in this entry: Sam LeFevre has generously called my attention to a somewhat fuller account of Christopher Reeve’s out-of-body experience:
As I’ve said before, if even one such account is true, naturalistic materialism is false.