Michael J Fox and his wife, Tracy Pollan, have been happily married for close to 35 years. Early in their union, they had to face the difficulty of Fox’s Parkinson’s diagnosis. However, over three decades later, they’ve built a family and a life filled with laughter.
Michael J. Fox is a long-time actor who began his career in the 1970s. He rose to fame when he appeared in the TV series, “Family Ties.”Besides his long-standing career, he found the best wife and life partner in actress Tracy Pollan. The two have been married for close to 35 years and have truly stuck to their vows.
The couple has only gotten stronger through sickness and in health and has not let their challenges affect the way they see each other.
They might have made it this far, but at the beginning of their relationship, Pollan was not the biggest fan of Fox. Her first impression of him was that he was full of himself.
Michael J. Fox in Los Angeles in 2009 | Source: Getty Images
But when they got the chance to work together, she saw him in a different light. It turned out Fox was smart and funny, and it only took two weeks of working together for Pollan to see his amazing qualities.
Tracy Pollan and Michael J. Fox in New York in 1999 | Source: Getty Images
The couple eventually wed, but their marriage was put to the test in 1991 when Fox received life-altering news. One morning, Fox’s pinky finger started shaking uncontrollably, so he consulted with a doctor.
A neurologist in Manhattan diagnosed him with young-onset Parkinson’s disease. The actor pulled his wife to an isolated passage and broke the news.
The couple cried and held each other, but Pollan told her husband nothing had changed because he was still the man he was yesterday, and that’s something she did not want them to forget.
Michael J. Fox and Tracy Pollan in Beverly Hills in 2017 | Source: Getty Images
What Fox is most grateful for is the support of his wife. From the moment he told her about her diagnosis in that hallway, she never saw it as the end of their marriage. To this day, his Parkinson’s disease did not change how she looked at him.
Willie Geist, who interviewed Fox about his book “No Time from the Future” revealed that his father also had Parkinson’s and that it was not the kind of illness one goes through alone.
Therefore, for Fox to have Pollan by his side was a blessing. “It’s really great to have a partner,” acknowledged the “Back to the Future” star.
Tracy Pollan and Michan J. Fox in New York in 2017 | Source: Getty Images
Fox kept his diagnosis private for a while and tried to forget about it by drowning himself in alcohol and taking on as many jobs as possible.
He admitted that it got to a point where he hid bottles from his wife. He drowned his feelings with alcohol and in the process, drifted from his family.
Fox’s drinking problem took a toll on his marriage, and Pollan admitted how scary it was to watch her husband do that to himself. But what she feared the most was what would come out of his addiction.
Tracy Pollan and Michael J. Fox in New York in 2018 | Source: Getty Images
Pollan knew it was not the ideal way to lead a life, especially for someone with children and a wife, but it was up to Fox to make that change.
The epiphany of how much his alcohol addiction affected him and his family came after a night out with his friends. Fox came home, threw himself on the couch, and passed out.
While he slept, a can of beer spilled on the floor, and when he woke up the next day, he found Pollan sitting in front of him with their three-year-old son.
Michael J. Fox in New York in 2019 | Source: Getty Images
As his eyes slowly went around the room, he was too scared to look his wife and kid in the face because he was expecting an angry woman, but he realized, “She wasn’t. She was just bored.”
Before Pollan stormed off, she asked him if this was the kind of life and person he wanted to be. That beer on the floor was the last one Fox ever had. He decided to get sober and turn his life around.
Fox explained, “acceptance isn’t resignation.” So, in 2000, the actor fully embraced his diagnosis and allowed his family to worry about him instead of bottling up everything. He also started the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research.
Michael J. Fox in New York in 2022 | Source: Getty Images
The actor wanted his foundation to help other initiatives get closer to finding the cure for this illness. Parkinson’s mainly attacks the nervous system, which causes tremors and affects one’s movements.
Another inspiration behind his foundation is how he defied the odds. When Fox went public about his Parkinson’s, he had already been diagnosed for nine years and was told he would be disabled within ten. But after 25 years, he still managed to work.
Thus, Fox realized his foundation could help advance research and treatments to give others a chance to enjoy a long life as well.
The Secret behind Staying Happy for Decades
Pollan and Fox have endured the ups and downs of Fox’s condition. The couple said they have stayed strong by giving each other the benefit of the doubt and only assuming the best of every situation.
People Magazine named Fox one of the kindest people; his wife was there to attest. Pollan credited her husband for being one of the nicest people she had ever met.
She believed his good heart stemmed from how he was raised. The actress said that in any situation, Fox will always ensure other people’s feelings are considered before his.
He has the kind of self-awareness that understands things do not only affect him, so he does his best to put himself in others’ shoes.
Michael J. Fox in Toronto in 2018 | Source: Getty Images
This was evident when the actor suffered several injuries where he broke his cheek, arm, hand, and shoulder. The actor admitted it took him a while to realize that his injuries also impacted his loved ones, who were there to care for him. Therefore, he did everything to be the best patient he could be for the well-being of his family.
Although Pollan thinks she has the most genuine husband, Fox thinks his wife is all good things wrapped in one bow. He gushed over Pollan, saying she was smart, loved him, and was protective of their family. The couple shares four children: Sam, twin daughters Schuyler and Aquinnah, and Esme.
Fox also proudly spoke about how wonderful his kids were and credited his wife with how they turned out. The “Stuart Little” star also talks about how enjoyable his life is, even when some might not believe him.
The intrigue in his life comes from his health condition. Fox said he does not think he has a typical day because each one is different.
He deals with his days as they come since living with Parkinson’s means expecting something new every time. But he constantly knows that he loves his work and family and appreciates his life situation.
Sometimes thinking of the best-case scenario, no matter how bad the situation, keeps him positive, but Fox admitted it is not a strategy that always works.
At the core of enjoying life comes acceptance, reiterated Fox. Therefore, he realized the more he accepted himself, the more he was grateful. In doing that, the actor gets a clear vision of all the good things he has compared to the bad.
Again the positive aspects in his life include family, his career, and the new people he meets daily. Fox even said his wife named him “Mr. Mayor” because of the number of people he knows and speaks to each time they are out in New York.
The reason behind his enthusiasm to meet and talk to people is for the benefit of his organization. Fox uses these conversations to educate and raise awareness for people with Parkinson’s disease.
However, even if Fox speaks to hundreds of people, Pollan is by his side at the forefront of every conversation. “Tracy’s amazing. She’s there in the front lines with me every day, ” Fox said.
The actor added that she never tries to pretend as if she knows as much as he does about the disease, but she has a good skill of making people laugh even in the most challenging settings. Nonetheless, Pollen might not have liked her husband at first but she ended up fighting for his life.
So, on some days when her husband has had a tough day, she first addresses the jokes before getting into the serious stuff, and Fox loves Pollan for that.
Laughing through the Pain
Pollan and Fox have been married for over three decades. Their love has only gotten stronger over the years, and the actor said the secret is that they find something to laugh about each day.
Additionally, Fox hardly ever felt like his wife treated him like a person with Parkinson’s. He always felt like a father, a husband, and a friend.
Tracy Pollan and Michael J. Fox on “Family Ties” in 1986 | Source: Getty Images
Their love story goes back to 1985 when they starred in “Family Ties.” Pollan was only on the show for one season, but the couple got to work together again on “Bright Lights, Big City” in 1987. The second time around, Fox asked her out for lunch.
They started dating shortly after and married a year later, in 1988. For the past 35 years, Fox and Pollan have become a family of six, and the actor has relied on them throughout his medical journey.
Fox and Pollan’s children are grown, but the actor said he never waited to tell them about his health issues. He was honest about his Parkinson’s disease from the beginning and has spoken openly about his changes.
In 2018, Fox faced another significant health scare. The actor had to get a tumor removed from his spine, which affected his mobility. He had to learn to walk again and now struggles with memory. But despite everything he has experienced, Fox enjoys his life.
Looking at the brighter side of things, Fox appreciates how he has learned to use his time wisely. Now he never engages in something he does not like because of his low energy levels, and he loves it. Above all else, Fox loves his wife and family and would not trade their support for anything.
As he continues discovering new symptoms, Fox said some of them have him laughing at himself. In fact, each day, he finds something funny about himself.
He talked about an instance where he had just woken up and wanted to make himself and his wife a cup of coffee. He struggled a lot but eventually got the coffee into the cups.
When it became difficult to hold the coffee mug, Pollan offered to help, but Fox was determined to get the coffee to his wife independently.
He slowly walked across the kitchen; things were not looking good and kept getting worse until he splashed hot coffee all over himself and the floor.
After 32 years of living with Parkinson’s disease, Fox’s journey to self-acceptance was not easy, but once he reached it, he changed the world for the better with his foundation and continues to do so. His impact on the film industry will also never be forgotten.