When he was young and healthy, Michael J. Fox was one of Hollywood’s most popular comers, top-billing the hit “Back to the Future” film franchise and a number of top-rating sitcoms. Imagine his and his fans’ dismay, therefore, when he fell ill in the year 2000, and learned after some tests that he had Parkinson’s disease!
It was a shocking diagnosis, because the disease was notorious for wreaking havoc on its victims’ neurological system. How could an actor hope to keep working when he couldn’t control his speech and motor functions?
So, Fox had to leave his ongoing series, “Spin City,” to try different treatments and medications to treat his serious illness.
At the time, those treatments were limited in scope and effectivity, so Fox decided that he would use his celebrity to raise funds for more research to be conducted to develop other and better modalities to address and remedy the disease’s worst effects.
The actor has been so focused on this goal that he’s raised many millions of dollars that have led to the development of new treatments that have helped his fellow patients in substantial ways.
More personally, Fox saw his enforced retirement as an opportunity to help take care of his small children, and the psychic rewards of that new preoccupation have boosted his “emotional health.”
After some years had passed, however, Fox found that he was missing his activities as an actor a whole lot—so, after his condition had sort of stabilized, he acted on TV again, guesting on shows like “The Good Wife” and “Rescue Me.”
Televiewers embraced his comeback appearances and hailed his fortitude and courage, which inspired them to be similarly upbeat and proactive about confronting their own life crises.
The viewing public’s overwhelmingly supportive reaction prompted Fox to take one more step and ask himself if he felt well enough to consider going back to TV acting on a more regular basis. He still evinced impaired control over speech and motor functions, but performed and communicated acceptably otherwise—so, would he go for it?
He did: He helped develop what would later become “The Michael J. Fox Show,” which is slated to debut on NBC in September. On the new series, the actor plays Mike Henry, a former newscaster with Parkinson’s. The series begins when he decides to return to work now that his children are older.
Obviously, the show bears similarities to Fox’s own situation, but the actor hopes that viewers don’t focus exclusively on them! Other aspects of the central character’s life and relationships will be depicted, and Fox trusts that the well-rounded approach will make viewers realize that there’s more to a Parkinson’s patient’s existence than his disease and its manifestations.
We hope that “The Michael J. Fox Show” is given a warm welcome by viewers when it starts telecasting on Sept. 26. It would give the previously sidelined actor a big psychic boost, and win more adherents to the cause he continues to champion—the reintegration of Parkinson’s disease sufferers into active participation in different aspects of living.
As he succinctly expresses it, “There’s nothing horrifying about Parkinson’s itself. It isn’t gothic nastiness! There’s nothing horrible about someone with shaking hands.” We second the motion—and applaud and support his long-awaited TV comeback bid.