From dumpster diving to Parkinson's triumph, here's Michael J Fox's unforgettable journey from rags to riches

ByPaurush Omar
May 12, 2023 06:11 AM IST

Michael J Fox is a household name known for his brilliant performances on the big and small screens, but not many know the struggles he faced becoming a star

Before he became a household name and one of Hollywood's most beloved actors, Michael J Fox faced his fair share of hardships. In a candid interview with Variety, the award-winning actor opened up about his pre-fame struggles, recalling a time when he was "dumpster diving for food" and had "no money" to his name.

Actor Michael J Fox is interviewed at the 13th Governors Awards in Los Angeles, California,(REUTERS)
Actor Michael J Fox is interviewed at the 13th Governors Awards in Los Angeles, California,(REUTERS)

Born to blue-collar parents in Vancouver, Canada, Fox was raised in a humble household. His father, a former Army sergeant-turned-police dispatcher, and his mother, a payroll clerk, instilled in him the values of hard work and determination. It was these values that fueled his aspirations of becoming an actor.

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At the age of 18, Fox found himself living on the margins, with no connections and limited resources. But his passion for acting propelled him forward. He took a leap of faith, dropped out of high school, and moved to Los Angeles to pursue his dreams.

Despite facing numerous rejections and setbacks, Fox's unwavering self-confidence never wavered. He knew he had something special to offer. While working on his first feature film, "Midnight Madness," he observed his fellow actors and wondered why success seemed elusive for some and not for others. Deep down, he believed in his own abilities, even when the odds were stacked against him.

His breakthrough came in 1982 when he landed the role of Alex P. Keaton in the hit NBC sitcom "Family Ties." The show catapulted him to stardom, leading to his iconic role as Marty McFly in the blockbuster film "Back to the Future" and its subsequent sequels.

However, in 1991, at the age of 29, Fox received a devastating diagnosis: early onset Parkinson's disease. Given only ten more years to work, he was faced with a life-altering challenge. Initially, he struggled to come to terms with his illness, wanting to avoid thinking about it or dealing with its impact on his life. But eventually, he chose to confront it head-on.

Despite the physical toll of Parkinson's, Fox continued to pursue his acting career. He chose to be transparent about his condition, going public with his diagnosis in 1998. Instead of allowing the disease to define him, he channeled his energy into advocacy and fundraising. Through the Michael J Fox Foundation, he has raised over $1 billion for Parkinson's research, becoming a leading figure in the fight against the disease.

Throughout his journey, Fox has received numerous accolades and nominations, proving that his talent and resilience surpass any limitations imposed by Parkinson's. He attributes the recognition not just to sympathy but also to the acknowledgment of his continued contributions to the entertainment industry.

Despite his achievements and the admiration he receives, Fox remains grounded and realistic about his battle with Parkinson's. He humbly acknowledges that the disease continues to pose challenges and that he will ultimately "lose" the fight. Nevertheless, he finds solace in the positive impact he can make along the way.

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From dumpster diving for food to becoming an influential figure in Hollywood, Michael J Fox's story is one of perseverance, courage, and determination. He serves as an inspiration to millions, reminding us that even in the face of adversity, there is still much to be gained.

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