Friday, May 29, 2015

Michael J. Fox: A "Lucky Man"


Actor, author, producer and activist Michael J. Fox called his autobiography "Lucky Man". He has built an impressive resume as an actor, but has become known for his health struggles. Battling Parkinson's Disease, he has become a spokesman and an activist who raises awareness about this illness. He has fought to attain more funding for research through his own foundation. The disease has been a major challenge and understandably it caused upheaval in his personal life and career. But, he sees himself as a fortunate person who has been blessed in many areas of his life. He is thankful for his wife, his kids, his career, and yes, even his ailments. The years fighting Parkinson's have helped him to gain perspective on life's priorities.

The diminutive Canadian is a high school dropout who is known as a 1980s film and TV icon. In 1979 he left Canada for Los Angeles and was determined to make it as an actor. In 1982 he landed the role of young Republican Alex P. Keaton on Family Ties. The Gary David Goldberg-created show would last for 7 seasons. It was a key part of NBC's Must See TV lineup. He met his wife, actress Tracy Pollan, on the set of this show. In 1985, his big film break came with the role of time traveler Marty McFly in Back to the Future. The combination of the hit NBC TV show Family Ties plus his three Back to the Future films (1985, 1989, 1990) made Fox a media darling. Few stars dominated 1980s showbiz like Michael J. Fox. The Back to the Future film originally went to actor Eric Stoltz. Some scenes were shot with him and it was determined that a change needed to be made. Other key roles included Teen Wolf (1985), The Secret of My Success (1987) and Doc Hollywood (1991).

In 1991 he was diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease but kept it a secret for 7 years. He tried to conceal his shaking as well as he could. He was afraid that the illness would hurt his career. But, by 1998 he knew that he had to go public with his diagnosis. The tabloids had found out about his ailment. He was shooting the ABC sitcom Spin City (1996-2000), and his muscle spasms could no longer be concealed. He was able to time his medication to hide any shaking where it would be noticeable to his co-workers or the studio audience. Nevertheless, he decided that he needed to be honest with everyone. He was tired of having this secret. In 2000, he left Spin City, to be replaced by Charlie Sheen. In the ensuing years, he appeared on many TV shows including Boston Legal (6 episodes), Rescue Me (5 episodes), The Good Wife (19 episodes) and The Michael J. Fox Show (22 episodes).

Salaries for various roles

Back to the Future $250,000
Back to the Future 2 $5,000,000
Back to the Future 3 $5,000,000
Teen Wolf $750,000
Secret of My Success $2,000,000
Greedy $5,000,000

*Information from the book "Lucky Man" by Michael J. Fox and imdb.com.
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