Michael J. Fox, the protagonist of "Back to the Future", was diagnosed with Parkinson's in 1991 when he was only 29 years old. He was told that he should withdraw from the stage, but he did not cease to be an actor.
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.
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. 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.
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 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. From 2010 to 2016, on CBS' "The Good Wife" starring Julianna Margulies, he played Lewis Canning, who used his tardive dyskinesia to his clients' advantage.
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.