Michael J. Fox Has Lived With Parkinson's Disease for More Than 30 Years — How Is He Doing?

Shortly after developing a tremor in his pinky finger, Michael learned he had onset Parkinson’s disease at the age of 29.

Kelly Corbett - Author
By

Feb. 19 2024, Updated 10:52 a.m. ET

Michael J. Fox speaks at the Q+A for STILL: A Michael J. Fox Movie at the 2023 SXSW Conference and Festivals at The Paramount Theater on March 14, 2023.
Source: Getty Images

Canadian actor Michael J. Fox first rose to fame in the series Family Ties. But it wasn’t until he stepped into the role of Marty McFly in the Back to the Future film trilogy that he became a household name.

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Throughout his career, the Spin City alum has received numerous awards and accolades for his acting, including multiple Emmy Awards, Golden Globe Awards, and a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. But in the early '90s, his life was turned upside down when learned he had Parkinson’s disease.

Keep reading for an update on his current health.

Is Michael J. Fox OK? How Parkinson's impacts his life.

Michael J. Fox smiles during the ‘Back to the Future’ reunion at MegaCon.
Source: Getty Images

Michael was first diagnosed with Parkinson's disease, which has no cure, in 1991 when he was just 29 years old. At the time, he was told that he would be lucky to get another 10 years out of his career as an actor, but Michael ultimately worked for another 29 years and didn't announce his retirement until 2020.

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Michael currently seems to sometimes have trouble walking and standing, and he also has difficulty controlling the tremors that Parkinson's has caused throughout his body. But Michael is continuing to live an eventful life.

In May 2023, Apple TV released STILL: A Michael J. Fox Movie, a documentary that chronicles his cinematic career and private journey with his illness. Not only did he play a role in the making of the film, but he made several public appearances promoting it.

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Even in the years after he was diagnosed, he regularly worked. Michael had prominent guest-starring roles on a number of acclaimed sitcoms and dramas. He guest-starred on everything from Scrubs, The Good Wife, Rescue Me, and Curb Your Enthusiasm. In those roles, Michael proved that his diagnosis didn't have to define him or his career.

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Michael J. Fox appeared in a wheelchair at the BAFTAs in February 2024.

During the 77th British Academy Film Awards (BAFTA) held on Feb. 18, 2024, Michael was brought on stage in a wheelchair by an attendant to present the Best Film Award. While he was greeted with a standing ovation and a sea of smiling faces, fans grew rather concerned, though he did stand to present the award and pose for photos with his wife on the red carpet.

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Michael J. Fox and Tracy Pollan attend the EE BAFTA Film Awards 2024.
Source: Getty Images

Michael J. Fox and Tracy Pollan attend the EE BAFTA Film Awards 2024.

With Parkinson's affecting Michael's mobility and stability, it appears he relies on the use of a wheelchair during his more vulnerable moments, perhaps when it came time for his to present an award at the BAFTAs.

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Michael J. Fox previously fell at a panel for 'Back to the Future.'

On Sunday, June 4, 2023, Michael, along with other cast members from Back to the Future, participated in a panel discussion at the Fan Expo in Philadelphia. During the cast introductions, Michael seemingly tripped and fell. Luckily, he fell onto a couch as opposed to the floor. He quickly assured fans he was OK.

In an April 2023 episode of CBS Sunday Morning, Michael talked about his life with Parkinson's: "It's gettin' hard, it's gettin' harder. It's gettin' tougher. Every day it's tougher. But ... that's the way it is."

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Michael J. Fox previously had spinal surgery, which affected his ability to walk.

In 2020 Michael had a benign tumor removed from his spine, which he later said "messed up my walking." Because he had several falls as a result, he says he broke several bones in his body. "Broke this arm, and I broke this arm, I broke this elbow. I broke my face. I broke my hand," he said during his CBS Sunday Morning interview in April 2023.

He explained that "you don't die from Parkinson's. You die with Parkinson's." Parkinson's can cause things like bad falls, choking incidents when eating, and more, which can prove to be fatal. "So ... I've been thinking about the mortality of it. … I'm not gonna be 80. I'm not gonna be 80," he said.

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Michael J. Fox doesn't feel sorry for himself and is using his diagnosis to help others.

Although being diagnosed with Parkinson's shook up his life, Michael refuses to dwell on the negatives.

In March 2023, he said during a Q&A for STILL that he isn't letting his illness hold him back. "Parkinson's sucks, but it's a great life, so thank you for it. Pity is a benign form of abuse. I can feel sorry for myself, but I don't have time for that," he said, per Hello! .

Over the years, Michael has chosen to make the most out of his life. In 2000, he founded the Michael J. Fox Foundation, which concentrates on funding research to ensure the development of improved therapies for people living with Parkinson's.

Michael has been happily married to his wife Tracy Pollan since 1988. They have four kids together.

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