Hollywood actor Michael J Fox showed his exceptional flair in acting with his award-winning portrayal of Alex P. Keaton in Gary David Goldberg’s sitcom “Family Ties” (1982-1989), which garnered him 3 Emmy Awards, a Golden Globe Award and 2 Viewers for Quality Television Awards. The role also brought him an Emmy and three Golden Globe nominations. While working on the famous series, Fox took a part as Marty McFly in the renowned franchise of Back to the Future (1985, won Fox a Saturn Award and earned a Golden Globe nomination), Back to the Future Part II (1989) and Back to the Future Part III (1990). The actor once again proved his wit by starring as Dep. Mayor Michael ‘Mike’ Flaherty in “Spin City” (1996-2000, also served as executive producer). Thanks to his superb acting, Fox won an Emmy Award, three Golden Globe Awards and two Screen Actors Guild Awards, as well as received three Emmy and Golden Globe nominations.
Off screen, in a 1998 interview, Fox revealed he was diagnosed with Parkinson in 1991 and had undergone brain surgery to eliminate tremors. He has tirelessly fought the disease since then. Fox became a strong advocate of Parkinson’s research, especially stem cell research, and established the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research in 2000 to advance the effort. In July 2005, he urged Congress to lift President Bush’s limits on embryonic stem cell research. Fox, who claimed that his wife helped him survive the battle, was hailed as an inspiration to fellow sufferers for showing his enjoyment of family activities despite his illness. Furthermore, in December 2005, the American Association of Retired Persons honored him for raising more than $76 million since the launching of his foundation. Fox also wrote a best-selling memoir titled “Lucky Man,” about his experience of the onset of Parkinson’s disease.
One of the John Willis’ Screen World “12 Promising New Actors of 1985,” Fox received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2002. He also has a theatre in Canada named after him. On a more private note, after having a romantic relationship with actress Nancy McKeon, Fox married actress Tracy Pollan and if the father of their four children.
Stupid Youthful Mistake
Childhood and Family:
Son of Bill Fox (Canadian Army sergeant, died of a heart attack in 1990) and actress Phyllis Fox, Michael J. Fox was born Michael Andrew Fox on June 9, 1961, in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. He moved with his three sisters (Kelli, Karen and Jacki) and his brother Steven to Burnaby, a suburb of Vancouver, after his father retired.
Michael, who was too small for his favorite activity, ice hockey, compensated his disappointment with drama class. He soon developed a fondness for acting and when his fondness became a passion, dropped out of high school and moved to the United States with his father. This decision later became his biggest regret and was referred to as a “stupid youthful mistake.” Later, Michael changed his middle initial “A” into “J” as homage to character actor Michael J. Pollard, and to distinguish himself from the late Michael Fox (Canadian actor). He also wanted to prevent such twisting magazine headlines as “Michael, A Fox.”
On July 17, 1988, Michael married actress Tracy Pollan, his costar in the sitcom “Family Ties.” The couple has a son named Sam Michael (born in 1989), twin daughters Schuyler Frances and Aquinnah Kathleen (born in 1995) and daughter Esme Annabelle (born in November 2001).
While still in high school, teen Michael J Fox made his first professional acting performance in an episode of the series “The Magic Lie.” In 1979, he debuted on TV film with the supporting turn of Ricky in the drama Letters From Frank. Encouraged by Art Carney, the star of the TV movie, Fox relocated to LA and gave up his education.
The following year, Fox made his first US debut on the small and large screen. He took the small role of Thomas Elston in the made-for-TV action drama Trouble in High Timber Country, starred as Scott in the family comedy movie Midnight Madness, and had a first regular role of Willy-Joe Hall in the family drama series “Palmerstown, U.S.A.” It was then followed with several roles, including the leading part of Jamie in the sitcom “Leo and Me” (1981) and Arthur in Class of 1984 (1982).
Fox got his first huge boost when he played Alex P. Keaton in the Gary David Goldberg-created sitcom “Family Ties” (1982-1989). Delivering a witty performance, he later netted a number of awards, including 3 Emmys, a Golden Globe and a Viewers for Quality Television for Best Actor, as well as a Viewers for Quality Television for Best Supporting Actor. For the same role, he also earned an Emmy nomination for Best Supporting Actor and three Golden Globe nominations for Best Actor.
Following his small screen appearances as Jay-Jay Manners in High School U.S.A. (1983) and the host for The Homemade Comedy Special (1984), he grabbed public attention by starring as Marty McFly, a teenager involved in time travel, in the popular sci-fi movie Back to the Future (1985), for director Robert Zemeckis. For his convincing portrayal, the young actor took home a Saturn for Best Actor and earned a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actor. Additionally, he became the recipient of the 1985 NATO for Most Exciting New Star.
The victory was ensued by Fox’ directing work for a short film titled The Iceman Hummeth, for the special program David Letterman’s 2nd Annual Holiday Film Festival (1986, TV). As a multi-talented artist, he composed a song titled “You’ve Got No Place To Go” for the movie Light of Day (1987) and played the role of Joe Rasnick/The Barbusters. After starring as Jamie Conway in Bright Lights, Big City (1988), he took parts in the sequels Back to the Future Part II (1989, played multi-characters Marty McFly/Marty McFly Jr/Marlene McFly) and Back to the Future Part III (1990, as Marty McFly/Seamus McFly). Taking on double tasks, Fox helmed and starred as the Prosecutor in an episode of the fantasy series “Tales from the Crypt,” titled The Trap (1991).
After a two-year break, Fox went back to the screen by voicing the wise Golden Retriever named Chance in Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey (1993), and by undertaking the role of Daniel McTeague in the adaptation of Frank Norris’ novel Greedy (1994). The versatile performer then tried his hand as a producer in the comedy Coldblooded (1995, appeared as Tim Alexander) before re-voicing Chance in the sequel of Homeward Bound II: Lost in San Francisco (1996).
Still in 1996, Fox lifted his name even further by rejoining creator Gary David Goldberg in his sitcom “Spin City” (1996-2000). Having the lead role of Dep. Mayor Michael ‘Mike’ Flaherty, the actor also served as the executive producer and the executive consultant for the series. He soon gained critical acclaim and won an Emmy, three Golden Globes and two Screen Actors Guilds for Best Actor. In addition, the role brought him three Emmy and Golden Globe nominations for Best Actor. However, Fox later left the sitcom due to his Parkinson disease, and the leading role was replaced by Charlie Sheen who played Dep. Mayor Charlie Crawford.
The winner of the 1997 People’s Choice for Favorite Male Performer in a New Television Series, Fox voiced the main character in the comedy Stuart Little (1999, re-voiced the title role for the 2002 sequel Stuart Little 2 and the 2005 Stuart Little 3: Call of the Wild), and Milo James Thatch in Atlantis: The Lost Empire (2001).
Meanwhile, Fox still continued his production work by executive producing the 1999 TV series “Anna Says,” as well as the TV movies Otherwise Engaged (2002) and Hench at Home (2003, featured Craig Bierko and Tracy Pollan). Furthermore, he wrote the script for the latter film, proving his disease could not stop him from creating.
Returning to acting, the recipient of 2000 Family Television and 2001 Aftonbladet TV Prize, Fox guest starred in two installments of “Scrubs” (2004), as surgeon Dr. Kevin Casey who suffered from obsessive-compulsive disorder. In a more recent performance, he made a guest appearance as a business tycoon suffering from cancer, named Daniel Post, in five episodes of the drama comedy series “Boston Legal” (2006).
- Aftonbladet TV Prize (Sweden): Best Foreign TV Personality – Male, 2001
- Emmy: Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series, “Spin City,” 2001
- Family Television: Actor, 2000
- Screen Actors Guild: Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Comedy Series, “Spin City,” 2000
- Golden Globe: Best Actor in a Leading Role--Musical or Comedy Series or Television Movie, “Spin City,” 1999
- Screen Actors Guild: Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Comedy Series, “Spin City,” 1999
- Golden Globe: Best Actor in a Leading Role--Musical or Comedy Series or Television Movie, “Spin City,” 1998
- Golden Globe: Best Actor in a Leading Role--Musical or Comedy Series or Television Movie, “Spin City,” 1997
- People’s Choice: Favorite Male Performer in a New Television Series, 1997
- Golden Globe: Best Actor in a Leading Role--Musical or Comedy Series or Television Movie, “Family Ties,” 1989
- Emmy: Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series, “Family Ties,” 1988
- Emmy: Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series, “Family Ties,” 1987
- Viewers for Quality Television: Best Actor in a Quality Comedy Series, “Family Ties,” 1987
- Emmy: Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series, “Family Ties,” 1986
- Viewers for Quality Television: Best Supporting Actor in a Quality Comedy Series, “Family Ties,” 1986
- Saturn: Best Actor, Back To The Future, 1986
- NATO: Most Exciting New Star, 1985