Best known for his role on the sitcom Family Ties where he played Alex Keaton, Fox has achieved a great amount of success as both a television and film actor. With appearances in hit films like Back to the Future, and countless TV productions like Spin City, Fox has proven his success as a versatile actor both on the big screen and TV screens around the world.
Fox was born in 1961 in Canada, and he soon became known as Alex Keaton with his first big break on the series Family Ties. It was in 1999 that Fox made the public announcement to admit he was battling Parkinson’s disease. The following year, he left the popular series Spin City and launched his own foundation that supported Parkinson’s research. He focused on his family during this time, but soon came back to television when he guest starred on shows like Boston Legal and Scrubs.
Born in Alberta, Canada, when Fox decided to pursue acting, he adding the “J” to his name in order to avoid confusion with another actor by the same name. While his middle name was actually Andrew, Michael has since said that he didn’t like the play on words that Michael A Fox could lead to, so he chose J instead. While Fox himself never said, many believe his choice for J was also a tribute to Michael J. Pollard, a great American actor.
The youngest with four older siblings, Fox spent most of his childhood in Canada. With his parents Bill and Phyllis, he was said to have struggled in school, and he was picked on for his size. At only 5’4” today, he was unable to play ice hockey, his favorite sport. Since he was too small to compete in sporting activities, he soon found his second home at the drama club in the mid-70s. When he was fifteen, Fox made his professional debut on CBS, with the series Leo and Me. On the show, he played a ten year old, and he soon got another part on the movie Letters from Frank, another CBS production filmed in Canada.
Experiencing early success with his pursuit, he dropped out of high school and decided to drive to LA with his father. It was there that Fox got a part on the series Palmerstown, U.S.A., and he soon got his big break in the 80s when he was cast as Alex on the hit show Family Ties. His charm and comedy would soon build him a huge fan base, and audiences’ love for the show and Fox only grew for the following seven years.
During the 80s, Michael got another big break. While still participating on Family Ties, Michael was cast on the cult classic Back to the Future. The franchise led Michael to a huge jolt of success in his career. During the 80s, he also made appearances on a variety of other films like Teen Wolf and The Secret of My Success. After his run of comedy films, Fox decided he wanted to show off his flexibility. He took some dramatic turns during his career when he took roles on movies like Light of Day, Bright Lights, Big City, and Casualties of War. Despite his huge change from comedic to dramatic and serious, Fox managed to pull it off and received critical acclaim for the majority of his attempts.
With Back to the Future making two sequels during 1989 and 1990, Fox effortlessly reprised the role and gained the franchise even more attention. In the 90s, Fox met with more success with movies like The American President. But, despite his big-screen success it wasn’t until his return to television in 1996 that Fox’s career truly took another leap forward. When he got a role on the ABC show Spin City, the series quickly took off, and fans felt that Fox was finally back where he belonged.
Fox enjoyed his part on the series, later saying it gave him more time to spend with his family. Fans loved the show, too, and the sitcom became an almost instant hit. In 2002, Fox got a much-deserved star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
In 1999, Fox made the announcement that startled his fans. After revealing that he had been battling with Parkinson’s disease since the beginning of the 90s, it was found that he had underwent brain surgery in order to alleviate tremors that were caused by his condition. It was 2000 when Fox announced he would be leaving Spin City. After dozens of awards and nominations, he admitted he wanted to spend more time with his family.
While fans were sad to see him go, Fox still makes regular TV appearances and has even made his way back on to the big-screen with some film parts.