Michael Andrew Fox, OC, famously known by the name Michael J. Fox, is the creator of Michael J. Fox Foundation, dedicated to finding a cure for Parkinson's disease. He was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease in 1991, at age 29. Since then, he become an advocate for research toward finding a cure for PD, while semi-retired from acting. With a career spanning from the 1970s, he is world renowned for his portrayal of Marty McFly in the "Back to the Future" trilogy. Here are some really interesting things to know about the Canadian-American actor:
He was pictured on one of a set of four non-denominated ("permanent") Canadian postage stamps commemorating Difference Makers, issued 22 May 2012. Others honored in this issue were Rick Hansen, Sheila Watt-Cloutier and Louise Arbour.
Fox was invited by Sandeep Marwah President AAFT to visit the Asian Academy of Film and Television in film city Noida, India to interact with film and acting students.
Though his middle name is Andrew, he changed his initial to a "J," in honor of actor Michael J. Pollard, as there was already another Michael A. Fox in the Screen Actors' Guild.
It was reported that he negotiated the deal for "Family Ties" from a phone booth outside a now defunct Pioneer Chicken restaurant in Hollywood, because he had no phone at home. He was told the network would need to call, and he said he was only home between the hours of four and five. He waited for the call, and fortunately he was there to answer it and secure the role.
He was the first choice of Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale, for the role of Marty McFly, in the "Back to the Future" trilogy, though he was unable to accept the offer initially, due to scheduling conflicts.
He once admitted that he lived and worked in the United States illegally for a time period and that would not return to Canada, out of fear that he will not be allowed back into the US. After becoming famous, he had to hire immigration lawyers to "straighten it all out."
During his interview on "David Letterman's Show" in 2011, he said that when he went to tell one of his teachers that he was about to drop out of high school to pursue an acting career, the teacher told him, "Fox, you're not going to be cute forever", and that he responded, "Maybe just long enough, sir."
It was in the sets of the most popular American sitcom "Family Ties," in which he played the role of Alex P. Keaton, that he met his wife Tracy Pollan. She played the role of Keaton's girlfriend Ellen in the sitcom.
Fox was awarded a star of the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 7021 Hollywood Boulevard in Hollywood, California on December 16, 2002.
He accidentally injured co-star James Woods's finger on the set of "The Hard Way." Woods was throwing him into a popcorn machine when his finger got caught in the button hole of Fox's jacket and dislocated it.
Fox claims that strangers still call him as McFly constantly, referring to his role as Marty McFly in "Back to the Future." One of such a remarkable instance was when he was in a remote jungle in the South Asian country Bhutan in the eastern Himalayas, one among a group of Buddhist monks who passed him looked at Fox and said, "Marty McFly!"
The first role that Michael J. Fox starred was on a Canadian TV series titled “Leo and Me” at the age of fifteen. He played a ten year old as Jamie because of his young looks and short stature.
Fox was listed as one of the twelve "Promising New Actors of 1985" in John Willis' Screen World, Vol. 37.
During a scene in "Back to the Future" Part III, Fox's character, Marty, was supposed to be hanged by Buford. During one of the takes, he accidentally let go of the rope and was actually hanged, as a result passed out. It took a few seconds for the crew to realize and they brought him down quickly.
In the 1980s, Fox was reportedly working for over 16 hours a day. It was during the filming of "Back to the Future," when he was already committed to working on "Family Ties." He would start with Family Ties at 10:00 AM and end with "Back to the Future," the next morning at 2:30 AM.
Fox was a supporter of then-candidate Barack Obama during the 2008 presidential election. He said in his book "Always Looking Up" that on Election Day, he went to vote wearing a t-shirt reading "Barack to the Future" that a friend had made for him.
He quit high school before graduating from his senior year, and later in an interview said he regrets quitting high school pointing it as a "stupid youthful mistake." He has also forbidden any of his kids to quit high school for Hollywood, demanding that they at least finish high school and maybe attend 1-2 years of college.
He has a theatre named after him located in his hometown of Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada.
Initially, Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale were not able to get Fox for the role of Marty McFly in the "Back to the Future" trilogy, and the role went to Eric Stoltz. After filming for six weeks, Stoltz was let go from the film because Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale felt he was "too intense" for the character. Michael J. Fox, who was then available, accepted when asked again.
In 2010, he was given an honorary doctorate by Sweden's Karolinska Institute, the same organization that awards the Nobel Prize in medicine. The honor was given in recognition of his work in advocating a cure for Parkinson's disease.
In his book "Always Looking Up," he revealed that he and his family flew from Paris back to New York on a Concorde on a Monday, the day before the 2000 Concord plane crash occurred. Originally, they had planned to fly on Tuesday, the same day the plane crashed. When he heard about the tragedy on the news, he was so shocked and relieved that he immediately started crying.
He almost missed his famous role as Alex P. Keaton on "Family Ties." Initially, Matthew Broderick was the first choice for the role, who refused to have a long-term television obligation, leaving Fox to bag the role.
It was while filming the 1991 "Doc Hollywood," that Fox noticed his finger twitching continuously which he could not control. When he consulted a doctor, he was diagnosed with Parkinson's.
Shortly before landing the role in "Family Ties," he sold half of a sectional couch to a neighbor, and paperback books to a local bookstore for cash to buy groceries. He even had to borrow money from his parents to pay the rent.
Fox was the first guest on "The Daily Show" when Jon Stewart took over as host on January 11, 1999.
At the age of 18, he moved to Los Angeles. When he was not successful in landing any roles, he had to load up on the cheap and cheerful dish mac and cheese.
Fox was given an honorary high school diploma from John Dewey High School in Coney Island, Brooklyn, New York, when he spoke at their graduation in 1984.
"Family Ties" creator Gary David Goldberg did not like Fox after his first audition for the role of Alex P. Keaton, stating that he played Alex too smart-alecky. Casting director Judith Weiner fought for him, so Goldberg gave him one more chance. He approached the second audition differently and was later called and offered the role.
As a part of the Toy Mountain Campaign, he donated several items to Rocky Stone, in an effort to give to the less fortunate kids.
The year 2008 was a big year for Fox, as he was honored with an honorary degree (Doctor of Fine Arts) from New York University and an honorary degree (Doctor of Laws) from the University of British Columbia in May. He was also awarded a star on Canada's Walk of Fame in Toronto, Ontario in September, the same year.