Sunday, April 14

This Boy Lived on the Margins with No Money, Yet Became a Famous Actor & Father of 4 amid Parkinson’s Battle

The iconic celebrity in the cover photo once had no money before becoming a big star and a father of four. He has also triumphantly persevered in life despite his enduring battle with Parkinson’s.

Los Angeles, California, 1982 | Source: Getty Images

This world-renowned actor, author, and activist, best known for his incredible career in Hollywood, which has seen him receive honorary awards, once struggled to make ends meet. Born in Alberta, Canada, in 1961 to a retired Army sergeant and payroll clerk, this star’s knack for acting shined through when he joined his school’s drama club in junior high. His family had settled in Burnaby, British Columbia, at the time.

At first, the actor decided to act in school plays as a way to meet girls; however, he discovered that the art form was something he actually wanted to do. After receiving encouragement from his drama teacher to audition for a Canadian series called “Leo & Me,” the budding talent auditioned and won the part.

After scoring the part in the series, he went on to land a few more roles in Canada and worked at a local theater in Vancouver. The parts he would typically get were ones that required him to play characters that were much younger than he was.

Photo from an episode of "Palmerstown, U.S.A." in Newhall, California on December 1, 1979 | Source: Getty Images

His small frame and charming, boyish features enabled him to pass playing as a kid. While recently promoting his new biopic, fans got a chance to reminisce over his former shows where he played younger characters, noting how cute he was as a 16-year-old playing a 12-year-old.

After his acting feats in Canada, the author left school and moved to Los Angeles at 17.The young star on the rise wanted to pursue a career in acting there. He recounted:

“I knew I was more talented than a lot of people. And I knew that if I wanted to be someone, I couldn’t just sit on my parents’ porch and think, ‘Boy, if I was only born in the States and my parents had money…I could do something with my life.’ ”

Though he managed to move to Los Angeles, his start was rough. Initially, the activist struggled to get roles, and the ones he did manage to get were just as far and few between as they were under the radar.

However, his determination and confidence would not allow him to throw in the towel. In a past interview, he described the turning point in his career when he held onto the faith that he would become successful. He had been filming his feature film debut, “Midnight Madness,” with nothing to his name:

“…But I knew I was going to make it…I was living on the margins. I was 18 years old, with no money, no connections, literally dumpster diving for food.”

Although he struggled, his belief in his talents and himself paid off. Approximately two years later, he scored his breakout role as Alex P. Keaton on the very popular show, “Family Ties,” and the rest, as they say, was history. The star who went from rags to riches is none other than Hollywood icon Michael J. Fox.

A few months ago, the “Teen Wolf” star shared his difficulties with the disease.

Following his breakout performance in “Family Ties,” Fox’s stardom skyrocketed, and soon, big movie deals brought him international fame, countless accolades, and connections. Fox, now 62, married Tracy Pollan in 1988, and the pair went on to welcome four children.

Fox was riding high when everything changed for him after learning he had Parkinson’s disease at just 29 years old. The valiant star decided to keep his diagnosis under wraps for years and went on to grow his and his wife’s family, continued to work, and win more awards.

After eventually revealing his diagnosis to the broader public, Fox retired from acting and devoted his time to fundraising and advocacy initiatives for Parkinson’s. He used his story to provide a source of inspiration for others burdened by the disease and launched his foundation, The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research, in 2000.

Since its conception, the foundation has raised over $1.75 billion and is deemed the world’s largest nonprofit Parkinson’s drug development funder. Although the journey has been challenging for Fox, each day getting harder than the last, he has kept his endurance strong.

A few months ago, the “Teen Wolf” star shared his difficulties with the disease. During the conversation, Fox spoke about how he had broken some limbs as a result of falling over and bumping into things due to the symptoms of the disease. Regardless of the challenging feats, Fox remains resilient:

“…I recognize how hard this is for people, and I recognize how hard it is for me, but I have a certain set of skills that allow me to deal with this stuff, and I realized with gratitude, optimism is sustainable…”

Though Fox continues to endure a challenging battle, he remains grateful, humble, and ever-confident in finding a cure for the ailment.

Since starting his initiatives and spearheading Parkinson’s research with his foundation, Fox has received many awards, including the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award in 2022.