j fox

Michael J. Fox

Michael J. Fox (born Michael Andrew Fox; June 9, 1961) is a Canadian/American film and television actor. His roles include Marty McFly from the Back to the Future trilogy (1985–1990); Alex P. Keaton from Family Ties (1982–1989), for which he won three Emmy Awards and a Golden Globe Award; and Mike Flaherty from Spin City (1996–2000), for which he won an Emmy, three Golden Globes, and two Screen Actors Guild Awards.

Fox was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease in 1991, and disclosed his condition to the public in 1998. As the symptoms of his disease worsened he semi-retired from acting in 2000.

Early life

Fox was born in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, the son of Phyllis, an actress and payroll clerk, and William Fox, a police officer and member of the Canadian Forces. Fox's family lived in various cities and towns across Canada because of his father's career. The family finally settled in Burnaby, British Columbia, a suburb of Vancouver when his father retired in 1971. Fox also attended Burnaby South Secondary, which currently has a theater named after him.

Fox co-starred in the Canadian television series Leo and Me at age fifteen, and in 1979, at eighteen, moved to Los Angeles to pursue an acting career. He was "discovered" by producer Ronald Shedlo and made his American television debut in the television movie Letters from Frank, credited under the name "Michael Fox". He intended to continue to use the name, but when he registered with the Screen Actors Guild, which does not allow duplicate registration names to avoid credit ambiguities, he discovered that Michael Fox, a veteran character actor, was already registered under the name. As he explained in his autobiography, Lucky Man, and in interviews, he needed to come up with a different name. He did not like the sound of "Andrew" or "Andy" Fox. He decided against using his middle initial because he didn't want to fit into a Canadian stereotype, as in Michael "Eh?" Fox, and because he did not want teen fan magazines referring to him as "Michael, A Fox!". He decided to adopt a new middle initial and settled on "J" in reference to actor Michael J. Pollard. Sometimes he jokes that the J stands for "Jenius" or "Jenuine".

Acting career

Family Ties

Fox's first important role was as "Young Republican" Alex P. Keaton in the show Family Ties which aired on NBC for seven seasons, from 1982 to 1989. It had been sold to the network using the pitch "hip parents, square kids," and the parents were originally intended to be the main characters. However, the audience reacted so positively to Fox's character Alex P. Keaton during the taping of the fourth episode that he became the focus on the show. This happened despite the fact that Fox only received the role after Matthew Broderick turned it down:

At the time, the show's producers felt Fox was simply too short for the gig. To make the point, NBC Entertainment Chief Brandon Tartikoff asked the show's creator Gary David Goldberg if he could imagine Fox's face on a lunchbox. Some years later, after Back to the Future, Fox's face did find its way to lunchboxes--and he was sure to send one to Tartikoff, with a note attached that reportedly read: "Dear Brandon, this is for you to put your crow on. Lots of Love, Michael J. Fox." Rumor has it Tartikoff kept the lunchbox in his office for the rest of his NBC career.

Fox met Tracy Pollan on the show when she portrayed his girlfriend, Ellen. They later married. When Fox left his next series Spin City his final episodes (Goodbye: Part 1 & 2, Season 4, Episodes 25 and 26) made numerous allusions to Family Ties. Michael Gross (Alex's father Steven) portrays Michael Patrick Flaherty's (Fox) therapist and there is a reference to an off-screen character named "Mallory. After Flaherty becomes an environmental lobbyist in Washington D.C., he meets a "conservative congressman named Alex P. Keaton."

Post-Family Ties

Fox shot to movie stardom in the mid 1980s with his leading role as time traveller Marty McFly in the Back to the Future trilogy of films. His other notable films included Teen Wolf (1985), The Secret of My Succe$s (1987), Bright Lights, Big City (1988), Doc Hollywood (1991), The Hard Way (1991), For Love or Money (1993) or The Concierge in some countries , Life With Mikey (1993), Greedy (1994), The American President (1995), and Mars Attacks! (1996). His last major film role was in The Frighteners (1996).

He has also done voice work providing the voice of Stuart Little in the movie of the same name and its sequel, both of which were based on the popular book by E. B. White. He also voiced the bulldog Chance in Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey and its sequel Homeward Bound II: Lost in San Francisco as well as Milo Thatch in Atlantis: The Lost Empire.

Spin City was a sitcom that ran from 1996 to 2002 on ABC, based on a fictional local government running New York City, originally starring Fox as Mike Flaherty, the Deputy Mayor of New York. After leaving the show, he was replaced by Charlie Sheen, who portrayed the character Charlie Crawford. Altogether 145 episodes were made (see list of episodes). Fox also served as executive producer during his time on the show, alongside co-creators Bill Lawrence and Gary David Goldberg, and continued to be credited as executive consultant after he left.

In 2004, Fox guest starred in the comedy-drama Scrubs as Dr. Kevin Casey, who suffered from obsessive-compulsive disorder. In 2006, he appeared in four episodes of Boston Legal as a lung cancer patient who used his influence in an experimental drug test to ensure he received the real drug instead of a placebo. The producers brought him back in a recurring role for Season 3, beginning with the season premiere. Though his character did not survive the season, Fox was nominated for an Emmy Award for best guest appearance.

Personal life, illness and advocacy

Fox married actress Tracy Pollan on July 16, 1988, at West Mountain Inn in Arlington, VT. The couple have four children: Samuel Michael (born May 30, 1989), twins Aquinnah Kathleen and Schuyler Frances (born February 15, 1995), and Esmé Annabelle (born November 3, 2001). Fox holds dual Canadian-U.S. citizenship.

Fox started displaying symptoms of early-onset Parkinson's disease in 1990 while shooting the movie Doc Hollywood, though he wasn't properly diagnosed until the next year. In 1998, he decided to go public with his condition, and since then he has been a strong advocate of Parkinson's disease research. His foundation, The Michael J. Fox Foundation, was created to help advance Parkinson's Disease research through embryonic stem cell studies.

One of the few people to know that Fox had Parkinson's Disease before 1998 was one of Michael's best friends, his stunt double Charles Croughwell on Doc Hollywood. In later years, he and Fox developed a system of hiding Michael's symptoms.

In 1998, he was honored with a star on Canada's Walk of Fame.

On May 14, 2008, Fox was the recipient of an honorary degree, Doctorate of Fine Arts at New York University's 176th Graduation Commencement, the only college graduation to be held for the first and last time at Yankee Stadium in New York, NY. Later on May 22, he received the degree Doctor of Laws honoris causa from the University of British Columbia.

Fox, in a 2006 interview with Katie Couric, explained his political advocacy, "I'm in this situation with millions of other Americans... and we have a right, if there’s answers out there, to pursue those answers with the full support of our politicians".

Two years earlier, Fox had appeared in a television commercial for Republican Arlen Specter's 2004 Senate campaign. In the commercial, sponsored by Specter's re-election campaign, Fox comments that Specter "gets it" and Specter's voice is heard saying, "There is hope."

On July 18, 2006, Fox appeared in a taped interview on ABC's Good Morning America, defending a Senate bill (Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act) that would have expanded federal funding for stem cell research. The bill was not enacted, however, being vetoed by President George W. Bush.

For the November 2006 U.S. midterm elections, Fox endorsed candidates on the basis of their support of embryonic stem cell research, as different from adult stem cell research. He appeared at events for several candidates including New Jersey Senator Bob Menendez, Iowa Secretary of State and gubernatorial candidate Chet Culver, Illinois congressional candidate Tammy Duckworth, Virginia senatorial candidate James Webb and Ohio senatorial candidate Congressman Sherrod Brown.

2006 political advertisement controversy

In late October 2006, Fox appeared in a television campaign commercial, endorsing Claire McCaskill, the Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate in Missouri and opposing incumbent senator Jim Talent for his specific opposition to federal funding of embryonic stem cell research. Fox also made similar ads in Wisconsin (supporting Governor Jim Doyle) and in Maryland, endorsing senatorial candidate Congressman Ben Cardin. All three of the endorsed politicians won their respective elections.

Conservative radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh caused controversy by claiming Fox was "either off his medication or he's acting." Limbaugh later said he would apologize to Fox "if I am wrong in characterizing his behavior on this commercial as an act. . ." Elaine Richman, a neuroscientist in Baltimore who co-wrote Parkinson's Disease and the Family offered the opinion that "Anyone who knows the disease well would regard his movement as classic severe Parkinson's disease. Any other interpretation is misinformed."

Fox responded to Limbaugh's comments, "... it's difficult for people who don't have Parkinson's, or don't know about Parkinson's, to understand the symptoms and the way they work and the way medication works. You get what you get on any given day".

Fox on living with Parkinson's disease

Parkinson's disease (PD) is a chronic neurological disorder which can be characterized by four cardinal symptoms: rigidity (specifically "leadpipe" and "cogwheeling" rigidity), resting tremor, postural instability, and bradykinesia (slow movement). At present, there is no cure, but medications provide some relief from the symptoms. Fox manages his symptoms using Sinemet, a commercial form of Levodopa (L-DOPA) and carbidopa. L-DOPA treatment decreases in effectiveness as it is used over a long period of time, so Fox, like many PD sufferers, extends the life of its effectiveness by using it as little as possible.

In his memoir, Lucky Man, Fox wrote that he did not take his medication prior to his testimony before the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee in 1998. "I had made a deliberate choice to appear before the subcommittee without medication. It seemed to me that this occasion demanded that my testimony about the effects of the disease, and the urgency we as a community were feeling, be seen as well as heard. For people who had never observed me in this kind of shape, the transformation must have been startling.

After years of L-DOPA treatment, new symptoms may develop called dyskinesia, which are different than that of PD. In an April 2002 NPR interview, Fox explained what he does when he becomes symptomatic during an interview:

Well, actually, I've been erring on the side of caution--I think 'erring' is actually the right word--in that I've been medicating perhaps too much, in the sense times the symptoms that people see in some of these interviews that have been on are actually dyskinesia, which is a reaction to the medication. Because if I were purely symptomatic with Parkinson's symptoms, a lot of times speaking is difficult. There's a kind of a cluttering of speech and it's very difficult to sit still, to sit in one place. You know, the symptoms are different, so I'd rather kind of suffer the symptoms of dyskinesia. . .this kind of weaving and this kind of continuous thing is much preferable, actually, than pure Parkinson's symptoms. So that's what I generally do...

...I haven't had any, you know, problems with pure Parkinson's symptoms in any of these interviews, because I'll tend to just make sure that I have enough Sinemet in my system and, in some cases, too much. But to me, it's preferable. It's not representative of what I'm like in my everyday life. I get a lot of people with Parkinson's coming up to me saying, 'You take too much medication.' I say, 'Well, you sit across from Larry King and see if you want to tempt it.'


Year Film Role Other notes
1980 Midnight Madness Scott
1982 Class of 1984 Arthur
1985 Back to the Future Marty McFly
Teen Wolf Scott Howard
1987 Light of Day Joe Rasnick
The Secret of My Succe$s Brantley Foster/Carlton Whitfield
1988 Bright Lights, Big City Jamie Conway
1989 Casualties of War PFC. Eriksson
Back to the Future II Marty McFly
Marty McFly Jr.
Marlene McFly
1990 Back to the Future Part III Marty McFly
Seamus McFly
1991 The Hard Way Nick Lang/Ray Casanov
Doc Hollywood Dr. Benjamin Stone
1993 Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey Chance Voice
Life with Mikey Michael "Mikey" Chapman
For Love or Money Doug Ireland
1994 Where the Rivers Flow North Clayton Farnsworth
Greedy Daniel McTeague
1995 Blue in the Face Pete Maloney
Coldblooded Tim Alexander Also Producer
The American President Lewis Rothschild
1996 Homeward Bound II: Lost in San Francisco Chance Voice
The Frighteners Frank Bannister
Mars Attacks! Jason Stone
1999 Stuart Little Stuart Little Voice
2001 Atlantis: The Lost Empire Milo James Thatch Voice
2002 Interstate 60 Mr. Baker
Stuart Little 2 Stuart Little Voice
2005 Stuart Little 3: Call of the Wild Stuart Little Voice
Year Title Role Notes
1973 The Beachcombers Episode: Truck Logger
1977 The Magic Lie Episode: The Master
1979 Letters from Frank Ricky CBS TV-Movie
Lou Grant Paul Stone Episode: Kids
1980 Palmerstown, U.S.A. Willy-Joe Hall
Family Richard Topol Episode: Such a Fine Line
Trouble in High Timber Country Thomas Elston ABC TV-Movie
1981 Trapper John, M.D. Elliot Schweitzer Episode: Brain Child
Leo and Me Jamie
1982–1989 Family Ties Alex P. Keaton
1983 The Love Boat Episode: I Like to Be in America...
High School U.S.A. Jay-Jay Manners NBC TV-Movie/TV-Pilot
1984 Night Court Eddie Simms Episode: Santa Goes Downtown
The Homemade Comedy Special Host NBC TV-Special
1985 Poison Ivy Dennis Baxter NBC TV-Movie
1986 David Letterman's 2nd Annual Holiday Film Festival NBC TV-Special
Segment: The Iceman Hummeth
1988 Mickey's 60th Birthday Alex P. Keaton TV-Special
1990 Sex, Buys & Advertising TV-Special
1991 Saturday Night Live Host Episode: Michael J. Fox/The Black Crowes
Tales from the Crypt Prosecutor Episode: The Trap
1994 Don't Drink the Water Axel Magee ABC TV-Movie
1996–2001 Spin City Mike Flaherty
2002 Clone High Gandhi's Remaining Kidney Voice Role
Episode: Escape to Beer Mountain: A Rope of Sand
2004 Scrubs Dr. Kevin Casey Episode: My Catalyst
Episode: My Porcelain God
2006 Boston Legal Daniel Post
2007 The Magic 7 Marcel Maggot Voice Role

Awards & nominations

Canada's Walk of Fame

  • 2000: Inducted, "Canada's Walk of Fame"

Saturn Awards

  • 1986: Won, "Best Actor" - Back to the Future
  • 1997: Nominated, "Best Actor" - The Frighteners

Aftonbladet TV Prize, Sweden

  • 2001: Won, "Best Foreign TV Personality"

American Comedy Awards

  • 1996: Nominated, "Funniest Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture" - The American President
  • 1999: Nominated, "Funniest Male Performer in a TV Series (Leading Role) Network, Cable or Syndication" - Spin City
  • 2000: Nominated, "Funniest Male Performer in a TV Series (Leading Role) Network, Cable or Syndication" - Spin City

Emmy Awards

  • 1985: Nominated, "Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series" - Family Ties
  • 1986: Won, "Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series" - Family Ties
  • 1987: Won, "Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series" - Family Ties
  • 1988: Won, "Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series" - Family Ties
  • 1989: Nominated, "Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series" - Family Ties
  • 1997: Nominated, "Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series" - Spin City
  • 1998: Nominated, "Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series" - Spin City
  • 1999: Nominated, "Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series" - Spin City
  • 2000: Won, "Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series" - Spin City
  • 2006: Nominated, "Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series" - Boston Legal

Family Television Awards

  • 2000: Won

Golden Globe Awards

  • 1986: Nominated, "Best Performance by an Actor in a TV-Series - Comedy/Musical" - Family Ties
  • 1986: Nominated, "Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture - Comedy/Musical" - Back to the Future
  • 1987: Nominated, "Best Performance by an Actor in a TV-Series - Comedy/Musical" - Family Ties
  • 1988: Nominated, "Best Performance by an Actor in a TV-Series - Comedy/Musical" - Family Ties
  • 1989: Won, "Best Performance by an Actor in a TV-Series - Comedy/Musical" - Family Ties
  • 1997: Nominated, "Best Performance by an Actor in a TV-Series - Comedy/Musical" - Spin City
  • 1998: Won, "Best Performance by an Actor in a TV-Series - Comedy/Musical" - Spin City
  • 1999: Won, "Best Performance by an Actor in a TV-Series - Comedy/Musical" - Spin City
  • 2000: Won, "Best Performance by an Actor in a TV-Series - Comedy/Musical" - Spin City

Nickelodeon Kids' Choice Awards

  • 1988: Won, "Favorite TV Actor" - Family Ties
  • 1990: Won, "Favorite Movie Actor" - Back to the Future Part II
  • 2000: Nominated, "Favorite Voice from an Animated Movie" - Stuart Little
  • 2000: Nominated, "Favorite Television Actor" - Spin City

People's Choice Awards

  • 1997: Won, "Favorite Male Performer in a New Television Series"

Satellite Awards

  • 1997: Nominated, "Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series - Comedy or Musical" - Spin City
  • 1998: Nominated, "Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series - Comedy or Musical" - Spin City
  • 1999: Nominated, "Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series - Comedy or Musical" - Spin City

Screen Actors Guild Awards

  • 1999: Won, "Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Comedy Series" - Spin City
  • 2000: Won, "Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Comedy Series" - Spin City

TV Guide Awards

  • 1999: Nominated, "Favorite Actor in a Comedy" - Spin City
  • 2000: Nominated, "Favorite Actor in a Comedy" - Spin City

TV Land Awards

  • 2007: Nominated, "Break Up That Was So Bad It Was Good" - Family Ties (shared w/Courtney Cox)

Viewers For Quality Television Awards

  • 1986: Won, "Best Supporting Actor in a Quality Comedy Series" - Family Ties
  • 1987: Won, "Best Supporting Actor in a Quality Comedy Series" - Family Ties

Hollywood Walk of Fame

  • 2002: "Star on the Walk of Fame" - 7021 Hollywood Blvd.


See also


External links

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