Michael J Fox facts: Back to the Future actor’s age, career, height, and illness explained

18 February 2022, 16:47

Michael J Fox became a global icon playing Marty McFly in the Back To The Future film series.
Michael J Fox became a global icon playing Marty McFly in the Back To The Future film series. Picture: KURT ISWARIENKO

By Thomas Curtis-Horsfall

You'll recognise Michael J Fox immediately as the main character Marty McFly from the Back To The Future films.

But there's much more to his story. Here's all you need to know about the Canadian-American actor:

Who is Michael J Fox?

Fox has lived with Parkinson's disease for half of his life.
Fox has lived with Parkinson's disease for half of his life. Picture: KURT ISWARIENKO

Michael J Fox is a film and television actor, author, activist, and celebrated philanthropist.

Starring as central character Marty McFly in Back To The Future, he helped the science-fiction adventure comedy movie become one of the most commercially successful films of the 1980s and an international phenomenon which spawned a further two sequels.

His other prominent role came as the voice-actor for the Stuart Little films, as well as various award-winning performances on US television series such as Family Ties, Spin City, and Rescue Me.

Throughout his acting career, Michael J Fox has won numerous awards including five Primetime Emmy Awards, four Golden Globe Awards, two Screen Actors Guild Awards, and a Grammy Award.

Away from his acting career, Fox has been a prominent figure in helping to find a cure for Parkinson's disease, an illness he has been suffering from personally.

Recognised for his contributions to research into Parkinson's disease, he received an honorary doctorate in 2010.

How old is Michael J Fox and where was he born?

Michael J Fox's acting career started in the 1970s.
Michael J Fox's acting career started in the 1970s. Picture: CBC Archives

Michael J Fox was born on 9th June 1961 in Alberta, Canada. He celebrated his 60th birthday in 2021.

Of Irish, English, and Scottish descent, his father William was a veteran of the Canadian Forces and his mother Phyllis was a payroll clerk and actress.

How did Michael J Fox get his big break?

Fox won three Primetime Emmy Awards for his performances on Family Ties.
Fox won three Primetime Emmy Awards for his performances on Family Ties. Picture: NBC

Fox's acting career started when he was just 15, as he starred in Canadian television series Leo and Me.

It wasn't until he relocated to Los Angeles when he turned 18 that he was cast in NBC sitcom Family Ties, after Matthew Broderick turned down the role.

His stellar turn as 'Young Republican' Alex P. Keaton made producers shift to the focus of the show on Fox, making him the series' main character after only four episodes.

The audience for Family Ties drew in an estimated one-third of America's households every week at its peak. Then the film producers came calling.

What are Michael J Fox’s biggest films?

- Back To The Future

- Back To The Future II

- Back To The Future III

- Stuart Little

- Doc Hollywood

- Bright Lights, Big City

- Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey

- The Secrets Of My Success

- Casualties Of War

- The Frighteners

When was Michael J Fox diagnosed with Parkinson's disease?

Fox kept his diagnosis a secret for seven years.
Fox kept his diagnosis a secret for seven years. Picture: Getty

Sadly, Michael J Fox was diagnosed with early-onset Parkinson's disease in 1991 at the age of just 30.

His initial symptoms were only a sore shoulder and a twitching finger, but he was told by doctors (whilst filming Doc Hollywood) that he wouldn't be able to even work in several years time.

This led Fox into depression and drinking problems as he confessed to being in denial, until 1998 when he would reveal his illness to the world and become a major global advocate for research into the debilitating disease.

In 2000 he set up The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research, which has since contributed $100 million of funding into finding a cure.

How tall is Michael J Fox?

Michael J Fox recently reunited with Back To The Future co-star Christopher Lloyd at a recent fundraiser for his charity.
Michael J Fox recently reunited with Back To The Future co-star Christopher Lloyd at a recent fundraiser for his charity. Picture: Getty

Michael J Fox is said to be around 5ft 4 inches tall, or 1.63 metres.

What is Michael J Fox’s net worth?

Back To The Future was the highest-grossing film of 1985.
Back To The Future was the highest-grossing film of 1985. Picture: Universal/Amblin Entertainment

Michael J Fox's net worth is an estimated $65 million.

Is Michael J Fox married?

Michael J. Fox and Tracy Pollan on the set of Family Ties together in 1986. (Photo by Universal Studios/Getty Images)
Michael J. Fox and Tracy Pollan on the set of Family Ties together in 1986. (Photo by Universal Studios/Getty Images). Picture: Getty

Michael J Fox is married to actress Tracy Pollan.

They first met whilst they were both cast members on Family Ties, then met again whilst filming Bright Lights, Big City a few years later before they began a relationship. They married on 16th July 1988.

Together, Michael and Tracy have four children: a son Sam (born 1989), twin daughters Aquinnah Kathleen and Schuyler Frances (born 1995), and a daughter Esmé Annabelle (born 2001).