Michael J. Fox revealed Parkinson’s after paparazzi ‘heckled’

Home » Michael J. Fox revealed Parkinson’s after paparazzi ‘heckled’

Michael J. Fox admitted he was forced to disclose his Parkinson’s disease to the world several years after his diagnosis — and it was all thanks to the paparazzi.

The 60-year-old “Family Ties” star recently chatted with Entertainment Tonight about his health battles and how the media played a part in revealing his disease.

“It was seven or eight years after I had been diagnosed … [and] the paparazzi and stuff, they would stand outside my apartment and heckle at me, like, ‘What’s the matter with you?’ ” Fox explained. “I said, ‘I can’t be making my neighbors deal with this,’ so I came out, and it was great. It was a great thing.”

The “Back to the Future” actor was first diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 1991, at age 29, during the filming of his comedy “Doc Hollywood.” He went public with his condition in 1998.

“It was a great surprise to me that people responded the way they responded,” Fox said. “They responded with interest, in the desire to find an answer to the disease, and then I saw that as a great opportunity. I didn’t get put in this position to squander it.”

The father of four opened the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research in 2000 to help educate and fund research for the condition.

The "Back to the Future" star was diagnosed with Parkinson's in 1991 and went public with his condition in 1998.
The “Back to the Future” star was diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 1991 and went public with his condition in 1998.
Getty Images for The Michael J.

In November 2020, Fox announced his second retirement from Hollywood to focus on his declining health. In his memoir, “No Time Like the Future: An Optimist Considers Mortality,” he explained that his “work as an actor does not define me.”

“The nascent diminishment in my ability to download words and repeat them verbatim is just the latest ripple in the pond,” Fox wrote. “There are reasons for my lapses in memorization — be they age, cognitive issues with the disease, distraction from the constant sensations of Parkinson’s, or lack of sensation because of the spine — but I read it as a message, an indicator.”

He opened the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research in 2000 to help educate and fund research for the condition.
He opened the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research in 2000 to help educate and fund research for the condition.
Getty Images for Tribeca Film Fe

“There is a time for everything, and my time of putting in a twelve-hour workday, and memorizing seven pages of dialogue, is best behind me,” the “Spin City” star added. “At least for now.”

He continued, “In fairness to myself and to producers, directors, editors, and poor beleaguered script supervisors, not to mention actors who enjoy a little pace, I enter a second retirement. That could change, because everything changes. But if this is the end of my acting career, so be it.”


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