Michael J. Fox


Actor

About

Also Known As
Michael J Fox, Michael Andrew Fox
Birth Place
Edmonton, Alberta, CA
Born
June 09, 1961

Biography

With two long-running sitcoms, multiple Emmy Awards and a top-grossing film series to his name, actor Michael J. Fox might have spent the rest of his life at the forefront of Hollywood's A-list, had the debilitating symptoms of Parkinson's disease not limited the actor's screen career. The Canadian actor was one of the biggest stars of the 1980s, first embodying the Reagan-era culture cl...

Family & Companions

Nancy McKeon
Companion
Actor. Dated briefly in the 1980s.
Tracy Pollan
Wife
Actor. Born on June 22, 1960; married on July 17, 1988 in Vermont; worked together on "Family Ties" and in the film "Bright Lights, Big City" (1988); also appeared with Fox in 1997 episode of "Spin City" as an old girlfriend.

Bibliography

"Lucky Man: A Memoir"
Michael J Fox, Hyperion (2002)

Biography

With two long-running sitcoms, multiple Emmy Awards and a top-grossing film series to his name, actor Michael J. Fox might have spent the rest of his life at the forefront of Hollywood's A-list, had the debilitating symptoms of Parkinson's disease not limited the actor's screen career. The Canadian actor was one of the biggest stars of the 1980s, first embodying the Reagan-era culture clash with his role as an aspiring yuppie teen on the sitcom "Family Ties" (NBC, 1982-89). He parlayed his flawless comic timing and clean-cut good looks into a successful film career as amiable boys-next-door, including one with access to a havoc-wreaking time machine in the mega blockbuster "Back to the Future" franchise. Fox challenged his image with grittier roles in films like "Bright Lights Big City" (1988), but more consistently scored as officious young professionals, like his starring role as deputy mayor on the sitcom "Spin City" (ABC, 1996-2002). In 1998, Fox disclosed that he had been diagnosed with the neurological disorder, Parkinson's disease, and semi-retired from acting in 2000, occasionally surfacing as a sitcom guest and voice actor in animated family films including the "Stuart Little" (1999) series. But with this new calling, Fox dedicated himself to publicizing the need for increased stem cell research for his disease as well as many other afflictions. While Fox's steady presence was missed on primetime, his inspirational advocacy on behalf of Parkinson's sufferers ultimately left a more important legacy than his roster of popular comedies.

Born on June 9, 1961, Fox was raised in Edmonton, Alberta and the suburbs of Vancouver, British Columbia. He was always interested in the arts, learning to play guitar at the age of eight which led to teenage band gigs and an interest in stage acting, as well. His first acting job came at the age of only 15, where his boyish face landed him the role of a 10-year-old in the CBC series, "Leo and Me" (1976). Fox became more and more active in regional theater as well as appeared in an ABC TV movie shot in Vancouver, "Letters from Frank" (1979). Encouraged to pursue his dreams by the film's star, TV icon Art Carney, Fox dropped out of high school and moved to Los Angeles where he relatively quickly landed a regular part on "Palmerstown, U.S.A." (CBS, 1980-81). But after a small movie role in "Midnight Madness" (1980), things dried up - enough that the actor was forced to sell off sections of his couch as finances necessitated it. The actor was ready to cash it in and return to Canada when the he auditioned for a new TV sitcom, "Family Ties." Beginning the show as a no-name teen actor billed below the show's adult stars, Meredith Baxter-Birney and Michael Gross, Fox quickly stole the show as the couple's Reagan-era yuppie son, Alex P. Keaton. He may have been playing a greedy, self-serving conservative, but his charming manner and ruffled straight man routine made him almost impossible to dislike. It would be the first of two monumental and defining roles, catapulting him to international fame as the ultimate Republican groupie. And it would be his role of Alex that would change the course of his personal life, as he met his future wife, actress Tracy Pollan, after she played his onscreen girlfriend, Ellen. The couple would go on to marry in 1988 and have four children - as well as the distinction of having one of the more happy and devoted of Hollywood marriages.

Fox earned three Emmy Awards during the course of "Family Ties." Only three years into the sitcom's run, the actor launched his career as movie star du jour with his role as the time-traveling, guitar-playing, boy-next-door Marty McFly, in Robert Zemeckis' wildly successful "Back to the Future" (1985). This second career-making role earned Fox a Golden Globe nomination for his energetic performance which hit all the right comedic notes. However, the same year he hit "Back to the Future" paydirt, Fox also starred in the anemic "Teen Wolf" (1985), which cast him as a student werewolf who parlays his condition into high school popularity. It was due largely to his Marty McFly appeal that "Teen Wolf" made any money at all. With high expectations resting heavily on his shoulders, Fox's next film, "The Secret of My Success" (1987), featured an appealing performance from the actor as a naive but ambitious kid who hustles his way into the corporate world of New York City, but it was hardly the audience pleaser many expected. Dissatisfied with his "nice boy" image, Fox attempted to broaden his range, slowly but surely, beginning with Paul Schrader's "Light of Day" (1987), a misguided rock 'n' roll drama co-starring Joan Jett as his renegade sister. Critics and fans alike reacted negatively to his atypical lack of intensity as the brooding factory worker/band member, enabling Jett to steal the mostly lackluster flick with her compelling performance. As for James Bridges' adaptation of Jay McInerney's "Bright Lights, Big City" (1988), the studio was as adamant as the public about not wanting to see Fox as a coke-snorting magazine fact checker. As expected, the troubled production failed to mark a new career direction for the actor, who for better or worse, typified the All American man-boy. It was a credit to the actor that despite substantial success on the big screen, Fox refused to bail on the sitcom that made him famous, riding Alex P. Keaton into the sunset when the show wrapped in 1989.

Still trying to make a go of edgier dramas, Fox played the conscience-stricken G.I. squaring off against an over-the-top sergeant (Sean Penn) in Brian De Palma's disturbing Vietnam saga "Casualties of War" (1989). The ticket-buying public and critics alike welcomed his return to light comic capers, "Back to the Future II" (1989) and "Back to the Future III" (1990). Shot back-to-back by Zemeckis, these films allowed Fox to play multiple characters, including an aged Marty, Marty's daughter, and his ancient Irish relative, Seamus McFly. He followed up with the cop buddy picture "The Hard Way" (1991) with James Woods and the fish-out-of-water comedy "Doc Hollywood" (1991) - neither coming close to the box office pyrotechnics of the "Future" franchise. Fox discovered another outlet for his talent when he lent his voice to the Disney animal adventure remake "Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey" (1993), but the tepid response to his child talent agent in "Life With Mikey" (1993), his beleaguered hotel concierge in "For Love or Money" (1993), and his turn as Kirk Douglas' nephew in "Greedy" (1994) led to a career reassessment.

Changing management, Fox kept a low profile until Woody Allen called and offered up the opinion that Fox "played paranoid angst better than anyone else." Taking this as a huge compliment, he starred in Allen's TV remake of "Don't Drink the Water" (1994). The following year, Fox's portrayal of a mouthy White House domestic advisor - modeled not-so-subtly on George Stephanopoulos - in Rob Reiner's solid political romantic comedy "The American President" (1995) begged for an encore. When the long shoot in New Zealand for Peter Jackson's "The Frighteners" (1996) convinced the actor that a TV series schedule was a better fit for his offscreen family life, he re-teamed with "Family Ties" executive producer-creator Gary David Goldberg for the ABC sitcom "Spin City," where he played a New York City mayoral aide. As executive producer, Fox also had more input into the show, which featured the witty, fast-talking Fox at his trademark best.

However, just as Fox was settling into his second successful series run, the actor was forced to publicly disclose he had been fighting Parkinson's disease since 1991, after the shakes and tremors were becoming more and more obvious to viewers. Audiences were saddened, but that sympathy quickly turned to admiration when Fox transformed into a tireless activist for research into the disease. He testified in Washington about the need to further research, and allowed his symptoms to be clearly visible in public appearances in order to put a human face on a mysterious disease which could make certain people uncomfortable.

Fox returned to the big screen in 1999, providing the gleefully boyish vocals of beloved mouse "Stuart Little" (1999). While purists may have objected to the changes in the E. B. White story, family audiences embraced the little white mouse and turned the film into a surprise box office hit. The following year, Fox bid farewell to "Spin City" to focus on his health and advocacy efforts, though he remained a consultant to the show and returned frequently as a guest star to visit his successor and real-life friend Charlie Sheen. Fox regularly appeared in voice form in theatrical animated releases, starring as the lead character in Disney's "Atlantis: The Lost Empire" (2001), a not-so-successful attempt to graft a teen boy to the classic Disney animated formula. He revisited Stuart Little in the equally charming 2002 sequel, "Stuart Little 2." He played a seemingly perfect doctor who threatens the staff in a few episodes of the NBC sitcom "Scrubs" (2001-09) in 2004, a series created by "Spin City's" Bill Lawrence. In three 2005 episodes of "Boston Legal" (ABC, 2004-08), Fox guested as a rich businessman with lung cancer, earning an Emmy nomination for his work.

In 2006, Fox's Parkinson's advocacy efforts were in the spotlight once again when the actor stepped forward to publicly endorse Senatorial candidates who supported federally funded stem cell research - a promising avenue of medical research that was ultimately vetoed by president George W. Bush over objections to its use of embryonic tissues. Fox carried on his with his efforts even after the bill was nixed and Right-wing commentator Rush Limbaugh accused Fox of exaggerating his symptoms in a PSA to win over public support of the controversial bill. Nonplussed by the insensitivity of the Right, the actor continued his stem cell advocacy and reprised his voice role of Stuart Little in the third installment of the series, "Stuart Little 3," which was released direct-to-DVD in 2009. Meanwhile, he landed a four-episode arc on the popular comedy-drama, "Rescue Me" (FX, 2004-2011), playing an abrasive paraplegic and new boyfriend to Janet (Andrea Roth), who runs afoul of Tommy (Denis Leary) when they first meet. Fox earned another Emmy nomination for his work on the show for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series, which he would go on to win. He earned further acclaim for his performance as a manipulative rival attorney on "The Good Wife" (CBS, 2009-16) opposite the series' star Julianna Margulies. Meanwhile, he delivered a hilarious send up of himself on "Curb Your Enthusiasm" (HBO, 2000- ), where neighbor Larry (Larry David) accuses him of harassment. His performance on "The Good Wife" earned him Emmy nominations for guest actor in 2011 and 2012, while his "Curb" appearance gave him a second nomination in the latter year.

Filmography

 

Cast (Feature Film)

A.R.C.H.I.E. (2016)
Voice
Annie (2014)
Himself
Drew: The Man Behind the Poster (2013)
Himself
Interstate 60 (2003)
Stuart Little 2 (2002)
Voice
Atlantis: the Lost Empire (2001)
Voice
Stuart Little (1999)
Voice
Mars Attacks! (1996)
Homeward Bound II: Lost in San Francisco (1996)
Voice
The Frighteners (1996)
Blue in the Face (1995)
Coldblooded (1995)
The American President (1995)
Greedy (1994)
Don't Drink the Water (1994)
Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey (1993)
Voice
For Love or Money (1993)
Where the Rivers Flow North (1993)
Clayton Farnsworth
Life with Mikey (1993)
James Cagney: Top Of The World (1992)
Doc Hollywood (1991)
The Hard Way (1991)
Back To The Future (Part 3) (1990)
Casualties of War (1989)
Back To The Future (Part 2) (1989)
Bright Lights, Big City (1988)
The Secret Of My Success (1987)
Light Of Day (1987)
Dear America: Letters Home from Vietnam (1987)
Narrator
Teen Wolf (1985)
Scott Howard
Family Ties Vacation (1985)
Alex Keaton
Poison Ivy (1985)
Back To The Future (1985)
High School U.S.A. (1983)
Jay-Jay Manners
Class of 1984 (1982)
Arthur
Midnight Madness (1980)
Letters From Frank (1979)
Ricky Miller

Producer (Feature Film)

Coldblooded (1995)
Producer

Music (Feature Film)

Light Of Day (1987)
Song
Light Of Day (1987)
Song Performer

Misc. Crew (Feature Film)

Annie (2014)
Other

Director (Special)

The Trap (1991)
Director

Cast (Special)

ABC 50th Anniversary Celebration (2003)
The Comedy Central Roast of Denis Leary (2003)
NBC 75th Anniversary Special (2002)
The Concert For New York City (2001)
Meredith Baxter: Perfection & Reality (2000)
David Blaine: Frozen in Time (2000)
The 52nd Annual Primetime Emmy Awards (2000)
Presenter
The 2nd Annual Family Television Awards (2000)
Performer
GQ's 2000 Men of the Year Awards (2000)
Golden Hanger Awards (1999)
Performer
Tntla 51st Annual Emmy Awards (1999)
Presenter
The 56th Annual Golden Globe Awards (1999)
Presenter
The 55th Annual Golden Globe Awards (1998)
Presenter
50th Emmy Awards (1998)
Presenter
The Late Show With David Letterman 5th Anniversary Special (1998)
I Am Your Child (1997)
1997 Emmy Awards (1997)
Presenter
Walt Disney World's 25th Anniversary Party (1997)
1996 Emmy Awards (1996)
Performer
The Last Laugh: Memories of the Cosby Show (1992)
The Trap (1991)
The Secrets of the Back to The Future Trilogy (1990)
Sex, Buys & Advertising (1990)
The 40th Annual Emmy Awards (1988)
Performer
Inside "Family Ties": Behind the Scenes of a Hit (1988)
Funny, You Don't Look 200 (1987)
Bruce Willis: The Return of Bruno (1987)
The 39th Annual Emmy Awards (1987)
Performer
NBC's 60th Anniversary Celebration (1986)
David Letterman's 2nd Annual Holiday Film Festival (1986)
The 38th Annual Emmy Awards (1986)
Performer
Comic Relief (1986)
The 58th Annual Academy Awards Presentation (1986)
Presenter
Bob Hope Buys NBC? (1985)
The NBC All-Star Hour (1985)
Time Travel: Fact, Fiction and Fantasy (1985)
Narrator
The Night of 100 Stars II (1985)
The Homemade Comedy Special (1984)
Battle of the Network Stars XVI (1984)
Battle of the Network Stars XVII (1984)

Cast (TV Mini-Series)

The Magic 7 (2004)
Voice
Mickey's 60th Birthday (1988)

Life Events

1976

Made professional acting debut on the CBC series "Leo and Me"

1979

TV-movie acting debut, "Letters From Frank" (CBS), encouraged by Art Carney to pursue acting in Los Angeles, CA

1980

Made TV series debut as a regular on "Palmerstown U.S.A." (CBS)

1980

Made film debut in "Midnight Madness"

1982

Achieved fame as Alex P Keaton, the conservative elder son of two former hippies on popular NBC sitcom "Family Ties"

1985

Feature debut in a leading role, playing Marty McFly in Robert Zemeckis' "Back to the Future"

1986

Directed first short, "The Iceman Hummeth" for "David Letterman's 2nd Annual Holiday Film Festival" (NBC)

1987

Acted opposite rocker Joan Jett in Paul Schrader's "Light of Day"

1988

Starred as a young Midwesterner whose NYC life is coming apart at the seams in "Bright Lights, Big City"

1989

Delivered fine dramatic turn as the conscience-stricken soldier in Brian De Palma's Vietnam drama "Casualties of War"

1989

Reprised role of Marty McFly in "Back to the Future II" (1989) and "Back to the Future III" (1990), both directed by Zemeckis; also played multiple roles in both sequels

1991

Made TV directorial debut with an episode of HBO's "Tales From the Crypt"

1992

Helmed "Rainy Day" episode of "Brooklyn Bridge" (CBS), re-teaming with executive produce and creator Gary David Goldberg, who worked on "Family Ties"

1993

Played rare supporting turn as a heavy in "Where the River Flows North"

1993

Provided the voice of Chance (the Bulldog) in "Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey"

1994

Portrayed Alex Magee in ABC movie version of Woody Allen's "Don't Drink the Water"

1995

Appeared in Wayne Wang and Paul Auster's improvizational "Blue in the Face"

1995

Delivered dead-on portrayal of advisor to "The American President"

1995

Producing debut, "Coldblooded"; also appeared in a cameo

1996

Joined the all-star cast of Tim Burton's "Mars Attacks!"

1996

Reprised Chance for "Homeward Bound II: Lost in San Francisco"

1996

Returned to series TV playing mayoral aide Michael Flaherty on ABC sitcom "Spin City"; also executive produced; announced plans to leave the show in 2001 to concentrate on raising money and awareness for Parkinson's disease; remained on as an executive producer; won an Emmy for his work as an actor in his final season

1996

Re-teamed with Zemeckis (this time as executive producer) for Peter Jackson directed feature "The Frighteners"

1997

Re-teamed with director Rob Reiner for the musical comedy special "I Am Your Child" (ABC)

1998

Publicly disclosed his 1991 diagnosis of Parkinson's disease in an interview with <i>People</i> magazine (November), also revealed he underwent brain surgery to alleviate tremors

1999

Voiced the title character in the feature "Stuart Little"; returned for 2002 sequel "Stuart Little 2"

2001

Provided the voice for the leading explorer in the Disney animated feature "Atlantis: The Lost Empire"

2002

Received a star on the Hollywood Walk Of Fame

2003

Wrote and produced the ABC sitcom pilot "Hench at Home" about a forcibly retired pro hockey player's home life

2003

Released the bestselling memoir <i>Lucky Man</i>

2004

Guest starred on "Scrubs" (NBC) as a surgeon with obsessive-compulsive disorder

2006

Played a business tycoon who suffers from cancer on three episodes of ABC's "Boston Legal"; earned an Emmy nomination

2009

Guest starred on "Rescue Me" (FX) as Janet's (Andrea Roth) love interest

2009

Earned Grammy nomination in Best Spoken Word category for <i>Always Looking Up</i>

2009

Traveled the world and sought out examples of what makes people from different cultures their happiest as host of the one-hour ABC special "Michael J. Fox: Adventures of an Incurable Optimist"

2010

Earned Grammy nomination for Best Spoken Word for the album <i>A Funny Thing Happened On the Way To The Future...</i>

2010

Joined cast of CBS' "The Good Wife" as a wily and cynical attorney afflicted with a neurological condition, which he exploits to sway jurors and potential clients

2013

Starred as Mike Henry on the short-lived "The Michael J. Fox Show"

2018

Cast as Ethan West on "Designated Survivor"

Videos

Movie Clip

Trailer

Family

Bill Fox
Father
Canadian Army officer. Died of a heart attack in 1990.
Phyllis Fox
Mother
Payroll clerk. Showing no favoritism, she placed his first Emmy in the same family trophy case with bowling and bridge trophies.
Sam Michael Fox
Son
Born on May 30, 1989; mother, Tracy Pollan.
Aquinnah Kathleen Fox
Daughter
Twin; born on February 15, 1995; mother, Tracy Pollan; name is a Native American word meaning "beautiful colors by the sea".
Schuyler Frances Fox
Daughter
Twin; born on February 15, 1995; mother, Tracy Pollan.
Esme Annabelle Fox
Daughter
Born on November 3, 2001; mother, Tracy Pollan.

Companions

Nancy McKeon
Companion
Actor. Dated briefly in the 1980s.
Tracy Pollan
Wife
Actor. Born on June 22, 1960; married on July 17, 1988 in Vermont; worked together on "Family Ties" and in the film "Bright Lights, Big City" (1988); also appeared with Fox in 1997 episode of "Spin City" as an old girlfriend.

Bibliography

"Lucky Man: A Memoir"
Michael J Fox, Hyperion (2002)