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Michael J. Fox (1961)

Michael Andrew Fox

Type :  

  Summary  

Michael J. Fox, OC is a Canadian American actor, author, producer, activist and voice-over artist. With a film and television career spanning from the late 1970s, Fox's roles have included 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. Fox semi-retired from acting in 2000 as the symptoms of his disease worsened. He has since become an activist for research toward finding a cure. This led him to create the Michael J. Fox Foundation, and on March 5, 2010, Sweden's Karolinska Institutet gave him a honoris causa doctorate for his work in advocating a cure for Parkinson's disease.

Since 2000 Fox has mainly worked as a voice over actor in films such as Stuart Little and Atlantis: The Lost Empire, and taken guest TV roles such as in Boston Legal, The Good Wife, Scrubs, and Curb Your Enthusiasm. He has also released three books, Lucky Man: A Memoir , Always Looking Up: The Adventures of an Incurable Optimist and A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Future: Twists and Turns and Lessons Learned . He was inducted as an Officer of the Order of Canada on May 27, 2011 for his outreach and fundraising work.

  Biography  

 early life
Michael Andrew Fox was born in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, the son of Phyllis (née Piper), 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 moved to the Vancouver suburb of Burnaby, British Columbia, when his father retired in 1971. His father died on January 6, 1990 from a heart attack. Fox attended Burnaby Central Secondary School, and now has a theatre named after him in Burnaby South Secondary.

Fox starred in the Canadian television series Leo and Me at the age of fifteen, and in 1979, moved to Los Angeles to pursue an acting career at the age of eighteen. Shortly after his marriage, he decided to move back to Vancouver, BC. Fox is one of four members of the Leo and Me cast and crew who eventually developed Parkinson's disease in mid-life, an unusually high number that led to some investigation as to whether an environmental factor may have played a role.

Fox 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: A Memoir, and in interviews, he needed to come up with a different name. He did not like the sound of "Andrew" or "Andy" Fox, so he decided to adopt a new middle initial and settled on "J", as an homage to actor Michael J. Pollard.

 acting career
 Early career


Fox's first feature film roles were in Midnight Madness and Class of 1984 , credited in both as Michael Fox. Shortly afterward, he began playing "Young Republican" Alex P. Keaton in the show Family Ties which aired on NBC for seven seasons, from 1982 to 1989. Fox only received the role after Matthew Broderick was unavailable. Family Ties had been sold to the television network using the pitch "hip parents, square kids," with the parents originally intended to be the main characters. However, the positive reaction to Fox's performance led to his character becoming the focus of the show following the fourth episode. 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 respectively. He also won a Golden Globe Award in 1989.

Brandon Tartikoff, one of the show's producers, felt that Fox was too short in relation to the actors playing his parents, 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.

While filming Family Ties, Fox met his future wife, Tracy Pollan, when she portrayed his girlfriend, Ellen. When Fox left the TV series Spin City, his final episodes made numerous allusions to Family Ties: Michael Gross (who played Alex's father Steven) portrays Mike Flaherty's (Fox's) therapist, and there is a reference to an off-screen character named "Mallory". Also, when Flaherty becomes an environmental lobbyist in Washington D.C., he meets a conservative senator from Ohio named Alex P. Keaton, and in one episode Meredith Baxter played Mike's mother.

 Back to the Future trilogy


Back to the Future tells the story of Marty McFly , a teenager who is accidentally sent back in time from 1985 to 1955. He meets his parents in high school, accidentally attracting his mother's romantic interest. Marty must repair the damage to history by causing his parents to fall in love, while finding a way to return to 1985.
Robert Zemeckis, the director, originally wanted Fox to play Marty but Gary David Goldberg the creator of Family Ties, which Fox was working on at the time refused to allow Zemeckis to even approach Fox as he felt that as Meredith Baxter was on maternity leave at the time that Fox's character Alex Keaton was needed to carry the show in her absence. Eric Stoltz was cast and was already filming Back to the Future, but Zemeckis felt that Stoltz was not giving the right type of performance for the humor involved. Zemeckis quickly replaced Stoltz with Fox whose schedule was now more open with the return of Meredith Baxter. During filming, Fox would rehearse for Family Ties from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m, then rush to the Back to the Future set where he would rehearse and shoot until 2:30 a.m. This schedule lasted for two full months. Back to the Future was both a commercial and critical success. The film spent 8 consecutive weekends as the number one grossing movie at the US box office in 1985, and eventually earned a worldwide total of $381.11 million. Variety applauded the performances, arguing Fox and his co-star Christopher Lloyd imbued Marty and Doc Brown's friendship with a quality reminiscent of King Arthur and Merlin. Two sequels, Back to the Future Part II and Back to the Future Part III, were released in 1989 and 1990, respectively.

 Mid-career

During and immediately after the Back to the Future trilogy, Fox starred in Teen Wolf , Light of Day , The Secret of My Success , Bright Lights, Big City and Casualties of War .

In The Secret of My Success, Fox played a recent graduate from Kansas State University who moves to New York City where he has to deal with the downs and ups of the business world. The film was successful at the box office, taking $110 million worldwide. Roger Ebert in The Chicago Sun Times wrote; "Fox provides a fairly desperate center for the film. It could not have been much fun for him to follow the movie's arbitrary shifts of mood, from sitcom to slapstick, from sex farce to boardroom brawls."

In Bright Lights, Big City Fox played a fact-checker for a New York magazine, who spends his nights partying with alcohol and drugs. The film received mixed reviews, with Hal Hinson in The Washington post criticizing Fox by claiming that "he was the wrong actor for the job". Meanwhile Roger Ebert praised the actor's performance: "Fox is very good in the central role ". During the shooting of Bright Lights, Big City, Michael was reunited with his on-screen girlfriend Tracy Pollan from Family Ties.

Fox then starred in Casualties of War, a war drama about the Vietnam War, alongside Sean Penn. Casualties of War was not a box office hit, but Fox, playing a Private serving in Vietnam, received good reviews for his performance. Don Willmott on film critic’s website wrote; "Fox, only one year beyond his Family Ties sitcom silliness, rises to the challenges of acting as the film's moral voice and sharing scenes with the always intimidating Penn."

In 1991, he starred in Doc Hollywood, a romantic comedy about a talented medical doctor who decides to become a plastic surgeon. While relocating from Washington D.C. to Los Angeles, California, he winds up as a doctor in a small southern town. Michael Caton-Jones, from Time Out, described Fox in the film as "at his frenetic best". The Hard Way was also released in 1991, with Fox playing an undercover actor learning from police officer James Woods. Between 1992 and 1996, he continued making several films, such as For Love or Money , Life With Mikey and Greedy . Fox then played small supporting roles in political drama The American President and comedy Mars Attacks! .

His last major film role was in The Frighteners . The Frighteners tells the story of Frank Bannister , an architect who develops psychic abilities allowing him to see, hear, and communicate with ghosts. After losing his wife, he uses his new abilities by cheating customers out of money for his "ghost hunting" business. However, a mass murderer comes back from Hell, prompting Frank to investigate the supernatural presence. Fox's performance received critical praise, Kenneth Turan in The Los Angeles Times wrote; "The film's actors are equally pleasing. Both Fox, in his most successful starring role in some time, and Alvarado, who looks rather like Andie MacDowell here, have no difficulty getting into the manic spirit of things."

Fox has also done voice-over work providing the voice of Stuart Little in the Stuart Little movie and its sequel, both of which were based on the popular book by E. B. White. He also voiced the American 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 and later career

Spin City ran from 1996 to 2002 on American television network channel ABC. The show was based on a fictional local government running New York City, originally starring Fox as Mike Flaherty, a Fordham Law graduate serving as the Deputy Mayor of New York. Fox won an Emmy award for Spin City in 2000, three Golden Globe Awards in 1998, 1999 and 2000 and two Screen Actors Guild Awards in 1999 and 2000. During the third season of Spin City, Fox made the announcement to the cast and crew of the show that he had Parkinson's Disease. During the fourth season, he announced his retirement from the show 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 . After leaving the show, he was replaced by Charlie Sheen, who portrayed the character Charlie Crawford. Altogether, 145 episodes were made. Fox also served as an executive producer during his time on the show, alongside co-creators Bill Lawrence and Gary David Goldberg.

In 2004, Fox guest starred in two episodes of the comedy-drama Scrubs as Dr. Kevin Casey, a surgeon with severe obsessive-compulsive disorder. The series was created by Spin City creator Bill Lawrence. In 2006, he appeared in four episodes of Boston Legal as a lung cancer patient. The producers brought him back in a recurring role for Season three, beginning with the season premiere. Fox was nominated for an Emmy Award for best guest appearance. In 2009, he appeared in five episodes of the television series Rescue Me which earned him an Emmy for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series. Since 2000 Fox has released three books, Lucky Man: A Memoir , Always Looking Up: The Adventures of an Incurable Optimist and A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Future: Twists and Turns and Lessons Learned . In 2010, Fox returned to television as a guest star in US drama The Good Wife. Fox will make another guest-star appearance on The Good Wife in episode 13.

He made an appearance at the 2010 Winter Olympics closing ceremony in Vancouver, Canada and delivered comedic monologues, along with William Shatner and Catherine O'Hara, in the "I am Canadian" part of the show.

Along with Tatjana Patitz, Fox appears in the 2011 Carl Zeiss AG calendar, photographed by Bryan Adams in New York City in the summer of 2010.

Despite a soundalike voicing his character of Marty McFly in the 2011 Back to the Future episodic adventure game, Fox lent his likeness to the in-game version of McFly alongside Christopher Lloyd. Fox makes a special guest appearance in the final episode of the series as an elder version of Marty, as well as his great grandfather Willie McFly.

 personal life
Fox married actress Tracy Pollan on July 16, 1988, at West Mountain Inn in Arlington, Vermont. The couple have four children: Sam Michael , twins Aquinnah Kathleen and Schuyler Frances , and Esmé Annabelle . Fox holds dual Canadian-U.S. citizenship. On February 28, 2010, Fox provided a light-hearted segment during the 2010 Winter Olympics' closing ceremony in Vancouver, Canada wherein he expressed how proud he is to be Canadian. On June 4, 2010, the City of Burnaby, British Columbia honoured Fox by granting him the Freedom of the City.

 Illness and activism
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. After his diagnosis, Fox began drinking more heavily than in the past; however, he sought help and stopped drinking altogether. 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 every promising research path to curing Parkinson's disease, through embryonic stem cell studies.

Fox manages the symptoms of his Parkinson's disease with the drug Sinemet, and he also had a thalamotomy in 1998.

His first book, Lucky Man focused on how after seven years of unacceptance of the disease he set up the Michael J Fox Foundation, stopped drinking and began to be an advocate of PD sufferers.

In Lucky Man, Fox wrote that he did not take his medication prior to his testimony before the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee in 1998;


In an interview with NPR in April 2002, Fox explained what he does when he becomes symptomatic during an interview;

In 2006, Fox starred in a campaign ad for then-Missouri State Auditor Claire McCaskill in her 2006 Senate campaign against incumbent Jim Talent, expressing her support for stem cell research. In the ad, he visibly showed the effects of his Parkinson's medication;

The New York Times called it "one of the most powerful and talked about political advertisements in years" and polls indicated that the commercial had a measurable impact on the way voters voted, in an election that McCaskill won. His second book Always Looking Up: The Adventures Of An Incurable Optimist describes his life between 1999 and 2009, with much of the book centered on how Fox got into campaigning for stem cell research. On March 31, 2009, Fox appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show with Dr. Oz to publicly discuss his condition as well as his book, his family and his prime time special which aired May 7, 2009 .

His work led him to be named one of the 100 people "whose power, talent or moral example is transforming the world" in 2007 by Time magazine. On March 5, 2010, Fox received an honorary doctorate in medicine from Karolinska Institutet for his contributions to research in Parkinson's disease. He also has received an honorary doctor of laws from the University of British Columbia.

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    1996

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Whole or part of the information contained in this card come from the Wikipedia article "Michael J. Fox", licensed under CC-BY-SA full list of contributors here.