Hey there! Welcome to the world of Canadian television! As one of the resident Canucks here at TVRage, I have taken it upon myself to educate the TV-loving masses on the sheer talent and number of fantastic Canadian actors and actresses that are infiltrating your living rooms. Here in the land of beavers, maple syrup and hockey, we take a lot of pride in the accomplishments of our home grown talents. I hope that each week I can surprise you with some very famous people you had no idea were from the true north, strong and free! It’s the invading moose!
In this week’s ‘Canada, Eh?’ I am taking a look at one my nation’s brightest and most talented stars. We are incredibly proud of the individuals who represent our country on the big and small screens, but there is something about Michael J. Fox that makes us shed a tear of national pride and want to rub it in everyone’s face that he is one of us. Unlike with Justin Bieber, if you mention Michael J. Fox to anyone dwelling north of the American border we will always jump at the opportunity to point out to you that he is, in fact, a Canadian. (You can have Justin Bieber though, if you want him…).
Michael J. Fox was born in Edmonton, Alberta on June 9th, 1961. His mother was a Canadian actress and a payroll clerk and his father was a police officer and member of the Canadian Forces. After spending the majority of his childhood moving across the country with his parents, the Fox family settled down in beautiful Burnaby, British Columbia in 1971. (Following his success, the town of Burnaby named a theatre after Fox).
Fox got his start in the acting world in 1973 with a guest role on the television show ‘The Beachcombers’. For close to 10 years Fox landed a number of small time roles and appearances on television shows before his big break came at the awkward age of 15. If there was any video evidence of my 15 year old self, let alone on a national television series, I would probably crawl into a hole and die of embarrassment. Of course, Fox was absolutely adorable and charming in his first starring role on the Canadian CBC series ‘Leo and Me’. Following the end of this series, Fox moved to Los Angeles to pursue his acting career.
What came next? Well Fox was discovered by American producer Ronald Sheldo, and then his career really began to take off. A role as a regular cast member on the hugely popular television series ‘Family Ties’ from 1982-1989 made Fox into a household name. He played the role of Alex P. Keaton, a smart and outgoing young man who is destined to work on Wall Street.
In 1985, while Fox was still filming on the set of ‘Family Ties’, he landed the role of a lifetime - -one that he is arguably most recognized for. Marty McFly in his faded blue jeans and his oh-so-stylish puffy red vest. Even the name sounds cool, doesn’t it? A starring role on the blockbuster hit ‘Back to the Future’ (and its subsequent sequels) are what solidified Fox as a huge star in the film industry. I will say though that the ‘Back to the Future’ movie franchise gave me some unrealistic hopes for the future. Who doesn’t want a hovering skateboard? Actually, why has a hover board not yet been invented and mass produced?
An impressive film and television career soon followed the success of ‘Back to the Future’. Fox has had starring roles on popular television series’ such as ‘Spin City’, ‘Boston Legal’, ‘Rescue Me’ and ‘The Good Wife’, as well as roles on over 25 feature films.
While shooting the film ‘Doc Hollywood’ in 1990, Fox began to display symptoms of early-onset Parkinson’s disease and by 1991 he was officially diagnosed. The disease took a huge toll on his physical and mental well-being, spiralling Fox into a bad habit of drinking and denial to cope with the stress. However, Fox quit drinking and went public with his condition in 1998. Since then, Fox has been one of the world’s strongest advocates for Parkinson’s disease research and has created his own foundation, The Michael J. Fox Foundation, to help advance research for finding a cure. His actions, work and research led him to being named “one of the 100 people whose power, talent or moral example is transforming the world” by Time magazine in 2007. He has an honorary doctorate in medicine from Karolinska Institute and an honorary doctorate of laws from the University of British Columbia.
Fox has a brand new comedy series coming up this fall on NBC which will deal directly with his experiences as an individual with Parkinson’s disease. ‘The Michael J. Fox Show’ will follow the life of Mike Henry, a successful news anchor who gave up his job to focus on bettering his family and his health after he finds out he has Parkinson’s disease. After five years Mike decides that he wants to go back to work and finds he is struggling to balance work, family and his own health. The series was honored last month with the Critics’ Choice Television Award for Most Exciting New Series.
What’s not to love about Michael J. Fox? He is a fantastic and versatile actor, a boy who can travel through time, and a passionate and dedicated advocate. I am proud to say that this actor is Canadian.
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