Michael’s Story

Michael J. Fox, iconic actor, author and advocate whose Hollywood career has been marked by worldwide acclaim, honor, and awards, launched the Foundation in 2000 after publicly disclosing his 1991 diagnosis, at age 29, with Parkinson’s disease.


Michael J. Fox was born Michael Andrew Fox in 1961 to parents William and Phyllis in Edmonton, the capital of the Canadian province of Alberta. (He later adopted the “J” in homage to legendary character actor Michael J. Pollard.) A self-described “army brat,” Fox moved several times during his childhood along with his parents, brother and three sisters. The Foxes finally planted roots in Burnaby, British Columbia (a suburb of Vancouver), when William Fox retired from the Canadian Armed Forces in 1971.

Living and working with Parkinson’s disease

Though he would not share the news with the public for another seven years, Fox was diagnosed with young-onset Parkinson’s disease in 1991 at 29. Upon disclosing his condition in 1998, he committed himself to the campaign for increased Parkinson’s research.

Michael shot to fame as Alex P. Keaton on TV’s “Family Ties” and became a box office draw with films like “Back to the Future.”

Fox announced his retirement from “Spin City” in January 2000, effective upon the completion of his fourth season and 100th episode. Expressing pride in the show, its talented cast, writers, and creative team, he explained that new priorities made this the right time to step away from the demands of a weekly series.

Later that year he launched The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research, which the New York Times has called “the most credible voice on Parkinson’s research in the world.”

Today the world’s largest non-profit funder of Parkinson’s drug development, the Foundation has galvanized the search for a cure for Parkinson’s disease (PD). Fox is widely admired for his tireless work as a patient advocate. The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research has raised more than $1 billion to help fund research for therapies and cures

In 2011, he guest-starred in “Larry Versus Michael J. Fox,” the season-eight finale of Larry David’s acclaimed HBO comedy “Curb Your Enthusiasm.”

In spring 2009, he portrayed embittered, drug-addicted Dwight in Denis Leary’s hit FX Network drama “Rescue Me,” a role that earned him his fifth Emmy award.

His 2006 recurring guest role in the ABC legal drama “Boston Legal” was nominated for an Emmy, and he appeared as Dr. Kevin Casey in the then-NBC series “Scrubs” in 2004.

In 2012, Fox announced his intention to return to full-time acting. In 2013, he returned to primetime network TV as Mike Henry on NBC’s “The Michael J. Fox Show.” The show, which quickly gained nationwide attention, centered on a beloved newscaster and family man returning to work following a diagnosis with PD.

Fox also has continued to thrill fans playing wily attorneys in multi-episode guest arcs on hit dramas. In 2020, he joined the cast of “The Good Fight,” reprising his role on CBS’ “The Good Wife” (from 2010 to 2016) as Lewis Canning, who used his tardive dyskinesia to his clients’ advantage.

In 2018, on the ABC drama “Designated Survivor,” he portrays Ethan West, a Washington attorney appointed as a special prosecutor to investigate former President Cornelius Moss.

Fox is the recipient of several lifetime achievement awards for accomplishments in acting, including the 2011 Hoerzu Magazine Golden Camera Award and the 2010 National Association of Broadcasters Distinguished Service Award.


Fox also is the bestselling author of four books. His most recent memoir, No Time Like the Future: An Optimist Considers Mortality, was published on November 17, 2020. A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Future, a compendium of wisdom for graduates, was published in April 2010. 

Always Looking Up: The Adventures of an Incurable Optimist, published in April 2009, debuted at number two on the New York Times bestseller list. It was accompanied by an ABC-TV primetime special that was nominated for an Emmy for Outstanding Nonfiction Special; additionally, its audio recording by Fox won the 2010 Grammy award for Best Spoken Word Album, an honor for which all three books were nominated. His first book, the 2002 memoir Lucky Man, also was a New York Times and national bestseller.

Fox has spoken and written extensively about his predisposition to look at challenges, including his Parkinson’s disease, through a lens of optimism and humor. His message has always been one of gratitude for the support he has received from his fellow Parkinson’s patients, and hope and encouragement for every decision to take action — no matter how big or small — to help advance research towards the pursuit of a cure.

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