For more than three decades, Michael J. Fox has been one of Hollywood’s most popular and successful actors, winning three Emmy awards during his seven-year run as Alex P. Keaton on Family Ties, another for Spin City, and a fifth for a recurring guest role on Rescue Me. Trim and boyish, he looks much younger than 52. He’s a man in perpetual motion, and not of his own volition. For the past 22 years, he has been living with Parkinson’s Disease, a disorder of the brain in which cells producing dopamine deteriorate, resulting in tremors and involuntary movement. Boxer Muhammad Ali and singer Linda Ronstadt are also afflicted.
Parkinson’s is a progressive disease of unknown origin, but Fox is doing rather well with it under the circumstances, and this season makes a welcome return to television as the star of an eponymous sitcom based largely on his life. Paralleling his own return to the spotlight, his character, Mike Henry, is a beloved New York TV anchorman who goes back to work after a five-year hiatus, much to the relief of his wife and three kids. Parkinson’s is part of the character and is treated deftly with the self-deprecating humor and optimism with which Fox faces it in real life.
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