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Biography
The son of a Canadian military career officer, actor Michael J. Fox made his television debut in Vancouver at the age of 15. Three years later, he moved to the U.S., living in spartan conditions until he was able to get his green card. Things started breaking for Fox in 1980, when he made his simultaneous American TV and movie bow, winning a regular role on the weekly series Palmerstown, U.S.A. and a supporting part in the theatrical film Midnight Madness. Previously billed as Michael Fox, the actor was compelled by the Screen Actors Guild to add the "J" to his name to avoid confusion with an older character actor who went by the same name. At 5'4", the baby-faced Fox was able to play adolescents and teenagers well into his twenties; during the early stages of his career, however, his height lost him as many roles as he won. Fox had sold all his furniture and was subsisting on macaroni and cheese at the time he won his star-making role as junior conservative Alex P. Keaton on the long-running (1982-1989) sitcom Family Ties. Before the series ran its course, Fox had won three Emmys, one of them for an unforgettable "one-man show" in which his character soliloquized over the suicide of a close friend. Fox's movie career caught fire after he replaced Eric Stoltz in the role of time-traveling teen Marty McFly in Back to the Future (1985), an enormous hit which spawned two sequels. Not all of Fox's subsequent movie projects were so successful -- although several of them, notably The Secret of My Success (1987) and Casualties of War (1989), were commendable efforts that expanded Fox's range. In later years, the actor seemed to be have difficulty finding the vehicle that would put him back on top, although he continued to keep busy. In the fall of 1996, Fox returned to television in the ABC sitcom Spin City, in which he starred as Michael Flaherty, the Deputy Mayor of New York City. That same year, he could also be seen in Tim Burton's Mars Attacks! and Peter Jackson's The Frighteners. In 1999, the diminutive actor lent his talents to another wee character, voicing the title role of Stuart Little for the film adaptation of E.B. White's beloved children's book about a walking, talking mouse. Married to actress Tracy Pollan since 1988 -- she played his long-time girl friend on Family Ties -- Fox credited her with helping him survive his battle with Parkinson's Disease, with which he was diagnosed in 1991.
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