Michael J. Fox biography
Born in Canada in 1961, actor Michael J. Fox first became known for his role as Alex P. Keaton on the popular sitcom Family Ties, and went on to star in such films as Back to the Future and Teen Wolf, as well as on the TV series Spin City. In 1999, Fox announced that he was battling Parkinson's disease. He left Spin City in 2000 to launch the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research and focus on family, later guest-starring on such shows as Scrubs and Boston Legal.
Famed actor Michael J. Fox, who first achieved stardom in 1982 as the acquisitive Reagan-era poster-boy Alex P. Keaton on the popular television sitcom Family Ties, was born Michael Andrew Fox on June 9, 1961, in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. Fox began using the middle initial "J" professionally because he wanted to distinguish himself from another actor named Michael Fox, and didn't like the play on words that "Michael A. Fox" lent itself to; his stage name is also reportedly a tribute to American actor Michael J. Pollard.
Hailing from Canada, where he grew up the youngest of five children to Bill and Phyllis Fox, Fox struggled in school and was too small—he's 5'4"—to compete in his favorite activity, ice hockey. He found an outlet in drama class, and in 1976, at the age of 15, made his professional debut on the CBS series Leo and Me; he played a 10-year-old on the show. After starring in the CBS movie Letters from Frank (also filmed in Canada), Fox dropped out of high school and drove to Los Angeles, California, with his father. There, he landed a role on the series Palmerstown, U.S.A. before being cast as Alex Keaton on Family Ties (1982-1989), where he would woo audiences with his confident charm and impeccable comedic timing for the next seven years.
Michael J. Fox also met with enormous success on the big screen, most notably playing Marty McFly in Robert Zemeckis's zany romp Back to the Future (1985). After playing comic roles in Teen Wolf (1985) and The Secret of My Success (1987), Fox, wanting to broaden his range, took some unlikely dramatic turns: He played a factory worker in Light of Day (1987), a cocaine-snorting fact checker in Bright Lights, Big City (1988), and earned critical acclaim for his starring role alongside Sean Penn in Brian DePalma's Vietnam saga Casualties of War (1989).
Audiences applauded Fox's return to Back to the Future, for the second and third installments of the film series, released in 1989 and 1990, respectively. His pitch-perfect portrayal of a George Stephanopoulos-type character in The American President (1995) also earned Fox accolades, but it was his ceremonious return to primetime TV with a role on the ABC sitcom Spin City, launched in 1996, that put Fox back where he belonged: delighting audiences on a weekly basis with a schedule that allowed him more time with his family.
In 1999, Fox contributed his trademark voice and comic flare as the title character (a little white mouse) in the film adaptation of E.B. White's Stuart Little. The actor was honored with a star on the fabled Hollywood Walk of Fame in December 2002.
Battle with Parkinson's Disease
In late 1999, Michael J. Fox made the startling announcement that he had been battling Parkinson's disease since 1991, and had even undergone brain surgery to alleviate tremors caused by the condition. Despite Spin City's incredible success and a showering of Emmy and Golden Globe awards, Fox announced in early 2000 that he would be leaving the show, which he also executive produced, to spend time with his family and to concentrate on raising money and awareness for Parkinson's disease. He left Spin City following his fourth season—and 100th episode—on the show and, in May 2000, launched the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research, a nonprofit organization "dedicated to finding a cure for Parkinson's disease through an aggressively funded research agenda and to ensuring the development of improved therapies for those living with Parkinson's today." Today, the foundation is credited as the world's largest nonprofit funder of drug development for Parkinson's disease.
Fox won an Emmy and a Golden Globe for his final season on Spin City, along with the respect and support of the entire Hollywood community.
In 2004, Fox guest-starred on the TV comedy Scrubs as Dr. Kevin Casey, a surgeon with obsessive-compulsive disorder. In 2006, he appeared in a recurring role on the drama Boston Legal, for which he garnered an Emmy nomination (best guest appearance). In 2009, Fox appeared on the dark drama Rescue Me. That same year, his TV special Michael J. Fox: Adventures of an Incurable Optimist, based on his best-selling book of the same title, aired on ABC.
Fox went on to make guest appearances on such TV series as Curb Your Enthusiasm and The Good Wife, and later began starring on a new sitcom, The Michael J. Fox Show, premiering on NBC in 2013; he co-stars with Betsy Brandt, best known for her role as Marie Schrader on the hit show Breaking Bad, on the series.
Fox married actress Tracy Pollan (who played Ellen, Alex Keaton's girlfriend, on Family Ties) in 1988. The couple has four children: son Sam, twin girls Aquinnah and Schuyler, and daughter Esmé Annabelle.