‘I’m not gonna be 80’: Michael J. Fox candidly talks health concerns

Miu von Furstenberg 3 Min Read
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Michael J. Fox Foundation - A Country Thing: Happened On The Way To Cure Parkinson's
Michael J. Fox attends the Michael J. Fox Foundation - A Country Thing: Happened On The Way To Cure Parkinson's at The Fisher Center for the Performing Arts on April 26, 2023 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Jason Kempin/Getty Images)

Back to the Future star Michael J Fox has further opened up on his battle with Parkinson’s disease. The actor, 61, has discussed coming to the realization that he is unlikely to make it into his eighties. Fox was diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 1991 when he was 29 years old but didn’t make the news public until 2000.

Fox appeared on CBS Sunday Morning to talk about the issues he faces living with the disease. “My life is set up so… I can pack Parkinson’s along with me if I have to,” he said. “You don’t die from Parkinson’s. You die with Parkinson’s.”

The actor explained that getting a simple injury or a common cold could be life-threatening: “I’m not going to lie, it’s getting hard, it’s getting harder. Every day is tougher. But, but that’s — that’s the way it is. I’ve been thinking about the mortality of it… I’m not gonna be 80.”

Fox is married to the actress Tracy Pollen. They met on the Family Ties set in 1985, were wedded in 1988, and have four children together. Fox revealed the touching moment he told Pollen about his diagnosis. She simply replied, “in sickness and in health”.

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Despite announcing his retirement, Michael J. Fox did continue to make guest appearances on shows such as Rescue Me, Scrubs, The Good Wife, and Curb Your Enthusiasm. He even made a lead-role comeback in The Michael J. Fox Show on NBC, a sitcom that was loosely based on his own situation, with him taking on the role of a news anchor making a comeback after being diagnosed with Parkinson’s. However, as the illness took its toll on his speech, Fox retired again in 2020.

The actor quickly became one of the biggest spokespersons for building awareness of the disease and fundraising to provide future generations with a greater understanding of Parkinson’s and the hope it, like many other health issues, can be prevented or stunted in the coming years. His foundation has already raised millions of dollars to fund this kind of research and will continue to do so for many years.

For Fox himself, it is clear from his candid interview that he feels like his time working in Hollywood is over. However, he has continued to make appearances at Back to the Future reunions, presentations, and other fan events. For those who have followed the actor’s work since his early roles, those appearances are worth as much as anything he could now do on screen.

Michael J. Fox will be seen in the new documentary Still on Apple TV+, in which he talks about his life and how Parkinson’s has impacted it. The documentary will debut on May 14, 2023.


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