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Ten Things About... Michael J. Fox

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Michael J. Fox as Marty McFly in 'Back To The Future'

© WENN

As you may have noticed, here at DS Towers we're all pretty big fans of Back To The Future. Last year we doffed our cap to Christopher Lloyd, and only this week the film was given the coveted DSMA Icon Award as it approached its 25th anniversary. To keep the volume on those celebrations ramped up as loud as the Doc's hefty speakers ("You better not hook up to the amplifier... There's a slight possibility of overload"), we take a look back at the life and times of the movie's star. Read on for ten fun facts you may or may not have known about Michael J. Fox.

1. That middle initial of course stands for... Andrew?! Yep, the son of William and Phyllis, Michael Andrew Fox was born on June 9, 1961 in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.

2. So, that 'J.' then. After picking up some screen credits as just plain Michael Fox, the future Marty McFly was forced to change his name because of an existing thespian registered with the Screen Actors Guild. Not fancying being known as Andy Fox, he added the Homer Simpson-esque initial, apparently in reference to Bonnie & Clyde star Michael J. Pollard.

3. His Wikipedia page claims that his first TV role was on The Beachcombers, but don't you believe it. "No, I was never on The Beachcombers," he told Vancouver Is Awesome. "The first show I was on was Leo and Me. That's the thing with Wikipedia... you don't put your money in and you take your chances." Wise words!

4. When he was at NBC, exec Brandon Tartikoff opposed hiring Fox as young Republican Alex P. Keaton on sitcom Family Ties after Matthew Broderick pulled out of the role. "Go ahead if you insist. But I'm telling you, this is not the kind of face you'll ever see on a lunchbox," he said of Fox. Post-BTTF, Fox jokingly sent Tartikoff a custom-made box featuring a snap and a message reading, "To Brandon: This is for you to put your crow in. Love and Kisses, Michael J. Fox".

5. It was on the set of Family Ties where Fox met Tracy 'Ellen Reed' Pollan. The pair wed in 1988 and remain married today - practically a century in Hollywood years! The happy couple have four children together.

6. Fox replaced Eric Stoltz to win the part of Marty McFly in the Back To The Future trilogy. Perhaps appropriately for the twisting time travel tale, he is only ten days younger than Lea Thompson, who played his mum, and is almost three years older than Crispin Glover, who played his dad!

7. According to rumors, in the five years between making BTTF and its two sequels (which were filmed back-to-back), Fox had forgotten the life skill of skateboarding and had to relearn it for the role. Perhaps he assumed, like us, that we'd have our damn hoverboards by then!

8. Not content with becoming a cult hero with one 1985 flick, Fox did it again with the werewolf classic Teen Wolf. In Brazil, the film was bizarrely retitled Garoto do Futuro (Boy From The Future) to cash in on Fox's post-DeLorean fame. In Italy, the name of Fox's character in the redubbed Voglia di Vincere (It Wants To Win) was switched from Scott to Marty!

9. Fox was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease in 1991 and revealed his illness to the public in 1998. Asked if he felt "cheated" by his condition, he said: "No, absolutely not. It's been a detour that I wouldn't have planned, but it's really led me to amazing places." His Michael J. Fox Foundation has raised millions of dollars for research and Fox claims that being able to make a difference is "certainly bigger than being on TV every Thursday for half an hour".

10. Fox returned to telly in 1996 for the political ABC sitcom Spin City. He starred as Deputy Mayor Mike Flaherty for 100 episodes before being forced to retire due to his worsening condition. The show was loaded with neat references to Fox's first hit Family Ties. At the end of his last full season, Flaherty says that his new job as an environmental activist is going well, apart from having to deal with a certain conservative senator from Ohio named Alex P. Keaton!

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