Michael J. Fox

Active - 1974 - 2018  |   Born - Jun 9, 1961 in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada  |   Genres - Comedy, Children's/Family

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Biography by Hal Erickson

Born June 9th, 1961, Michael J. Fox made his television debut in Vancouver at the age of 15. Three years later, he moved to the U.S., living in spartan conditions until he was able to get his green card. Things started breaking for Fox in 1980, when he made his simultaneous American TV and movie bow, winning a regular role on the weekly series Palmerstown, U.S.A. and a supporting part in the theatrical film Midnight Madness. Previously billed as Michael Fox, the actor was compelled by the Screen Actors Guild to add the "J" to his name to avoid confusion with an older character actor who went by the same name. At 5'4", the baby-faced Fox was able to play adolescents and teenagers well into his twenties; during the early stages of his career, however, his height lost him as many roles as he won.

Fox had sold all his furniture and was subsisting on macaroni and cheese at the time he won his star-making role as junior conservative Alex P. Keaton on the long-running (1982-1989) sitcom Family Ties. Before the series ran its course, Fox had won three Emmys, one of them for an unforgettable "one-man show" in which his character soliloquized over the suicide of a close friend. Fox's movie career caught fire after he replaced Eric Stoltz in the role of time-traveling teen Marty McFly in Back to the Future (1985), an enormous hit which spawned two sequels. Not all of Fox's subsequent movie projects were so successful -- although several of them, notably The Secret of My Success (1987) and Casualties of War (1989), were commendable efforts that expanded Fox's range. In later years, the actor seemed to be have difficulty finding the vehicle that would put him back on top, although he continued to keep busy. In the fall of 1996, Fox returned to television in the ABC sitcom Spin City, in which he starred as Michael Flaherty, the Deputy Mayor of New York City. That same year, he could also be seen in Tim Burton's Mars Attacks! and Peter Jackson's The Frighteners. In 1999, the diminutive actor lent his talents to another wee character, voicing the title role of Stuart Little for the film adaptation of E.B. White's beloved children's book about a walking, talking mouse.

Married to actress Tracy Pollan since 1988 -- she played his long-time girl friend on Family Ties -- Fox credited her with helping him survive his battle with Parkinson's Disease, with which he was diagnosed in 1991. Fox voiced a variety of animated characters throughout the 2000s, and appeared on TV shows including CBS' The Good Wife and the FX drama Rescue Me,

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  • Added the middle initial to his professional name in honor of veteran character actor Michael J. Pollard.
  • Made TV debut on the Canadian series Leo & Me when he was 15.
  • Took over the role of Marty McFly in Back to the Future (1985) when Eric Stoltz was released shortly after filming began; continued to work on Family Ties during the day and filmed the movie at night.
  • Met future wife Tracy Pollan on the set of Family Ties when she costarred as Ellen, a love interest of Fox's Alex Keaton.
  • Diagnosed with Parkinson's disease in 1991 and went public with his condition in 1998; in early 2000, left Spin City to focus on raising awareness and money for the disease.
  • Founded the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research in May 2000.
  • Published memoir, Lucky Man, in 2002.
  • Returned to TV in 2004 with a guest appearance on the sitcom Scrubs, a role which reunited him with Scrubs producer and Spin City creator Bill Lawrence.
  • Published a second book, Always Looking Up: The Adventures of an Incurable Optimist, in 2009.
  • Was asked by longtime pal Denis Leary to appear on the FX series Rescue Me; his guest turn won him his first Emmy for a dramatic performance in 2009.
  • Son Sam was named Mr. Golden Globe in 2013.