Michael J. Fox circa 1984 and now.
Michael J Fox is known to millions of fans as Marty McFly, Mike Flaherty, the mayor's assistant on Spin City, and Doc Hollywood, but the role that put Fox on the road to stardom Alex P. Keaton on Family Ties.
In 1979 Fox was eighteen years old living in Canada when he told his parents he was moving to Los Angeles to pursue his acting career. Fox's dad, William Fox, a police officer and member of the Canadian Forces supported his son's decision, probably because Michael's mother had been an actress.
Fox was discovered by producer Ronald Shedlo and made his American television debut in the television film 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 requires unique 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: A Memoir , and in interviews, he needed to come up with a different name. He did not like the sound of "Andrew" or "Andy", so he decided to adopt a new middle initial and settled on "J", as an homage to actor Michael J. Pollard.
The going wasn't easy. In 1982, things had become so bad that in order to pay his bills Fox was selling off sections of a sectional couch, and was ready to return to Canada when Family Ties series creator, Gary David Goldberg, cast Fox as Alex P. Keaton, even though Brandon Tartikoff, one of the show's producers, felt that Fox was too short and tried to have him replaced. Tartikoff reportedly said that "this is not the kind of face you'll ever find on a lunch-box." After his later successes, Fox presented Tartikoff with a custom-made lunch-box with the inscription "To Brandon, this is for you to put your crow in. Love and Kisses, Michael J. Fox". Tartikoff kept the lunch-box in his office for the rest of his NBC career.
At its peak, the audience for Family Ties drew one-third of America's households every week. Fox won three Emmy awards for Family Ties, in 1986, 1987 and 1988. He also won a Golden Globe Award in 1989.
During Family Ties Fox made two hit feature films, Teen Wolf and Back to the Future. While filming Back to the Future, Fox would rehearse for Family Ties from 10AM to 6PM, then rush to the Back to the Future set where he would rehearse and shoot until 2:30AM. This schedule lasted for two full months.
Fox started displaying symptoms of early-onset Parkinson's disease in 1990 while shooting the movie Doc Hollywood, although he was not properly diagnosed until the next year.
Doc Hollywood, a romantic comedy about a talented medical doctor who decides to become a plastic surgeon, was released in 1991. While moving from Washington, D.C. to Los Angeles, California, he winds up as a doctor in a small southern town in South Carolina. Michael Caton-Jones, from Time Out, described Fox in the film as "at his frenetic best".
In 1996 Fox and Gary David Goldberg would team up again, when Goldberg created Spin City with Bill Lawrence and they cast Michael J. Fox in the lead as Mike Flaherty, the Deputy Mayor of New York.
In 1998, Michael J. Fox announced that he had Parkinson's disease and in 2000 Fox announced his retirement from the Spin City to focus on spending more time with his family. He announced that he planned to continue to act and would make guest appearances on Spin City (he made three more appearances on the show during the final season). After leaving the show Fox served as an executive producer alongside co-creators Bill Lawrence and Gary David Goldberg. Fox remained close friends with Goldberg until Goldberg's death from brain cancer in June of this year.
From 2000 until now, Fox kept busy as a strong advocate of Parkinson's disease research. The Michael J. Fox Foundation, was created to help advance every promising research path to curing Parkinson's disease, including embryonic stem cell studies. Fox limited his acting on TV to guest starring roles that didn't exceed eight episodes.
In Fox's new NBC series, "The Michael J. Fox Show," he plays Mike Henry, one of New York's most beloved news anchors. Mike Henry, put his career on hold to spend more time with his family and focus on his health after he was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease. But five years later, with the kids busy growing up and Mike growing restless, it just might be time for him to get back to work. Having never wanted Mike to leave in the first place, his old boss Harris Green (Wendell Pierce) jumped at the chance to get him back on TV. The trick, as it's always been, was to make Mike think it was his idea. Now the plan is in motion and Mike will be back to juggling home, family, and career - just like the old days, but only better. Fox also serves as executive producer.
On November 12th, Paramount Home Entertainment will release a collectible gift set, Family Ties: The Complete Series . The set will include an exclusive bonus disc not available on the season sets, plus special photo album packaging that showcases rare photos of the cast and memorable moments from each season. CLICK HERE to pre-order from amazon.com and save 30% off the suggested retail price.
Fox Fact: Fox sat next to Princess Diana for Back to the Future's 1985 charity premiere.
Get the Back to the Future Trilogy on Blu Ray. This set includes all 3 movies which include Back to the Future, Back to the Future 2 and Back to the Future 3 plus a brand new 6-part documentary "Tales of the Future" on Blu Ray.
Fox Fact: Michael has been married to actress Tracy Pollan for 25 years. The couple has four children together.
Get Michael J. Fox on DVD Blu-Ray and Instant Video All his movies and TV shows, most for less than the price for a single movie ticket.
Fox Fact: As a child, Michael dreamed of being a pro hockey player. He taught himself guitar at age eight and played in several garage bands before choosing acting as his true passion.