I saw Michael J. Fox on Letterman the other night, and I was amazed at how good he looks. Not only because he's been dealing with Parkinson’s for so long—he was diagnosed in 1991 at just 29 years old—but because he's one of those lucky types that's aged so well. At nearly fifty, he still looks an awful lot like the fresh-faced kid we all had a crush on when Back to the Future first came out.
You can tell that talking has become more difficult for him, but his tremors seem very controlled and he looks really healthy. He was on Letterman in part to promote the 25th Anniversary release of Back to the Future, and he also discussed his foundation, which has funded an astonishing $213 million in Parkinson's research.
Fox first noticed symptoms of the disease in 1990, starting with stiffness in one of the fingers of his left hand. Six months later he was experiencing involuntary shaking, and doctors gave him the grim news.
In a recent interview, Fox credits Parkinson's with improving, rather than diminishing, his life. He said that after the diagnosis he initially started to spiral downwards:
"I’d been drinking too much and cruising along the fast lane before that, but the diagnosis made me an even bigger idiot. My boozing, the subsequent depression, and my increasing pain isolated me from my wife Tracy and my son, Sam Michael. I hit rock bottom."
Through the support of his wife, Tracy Pollan, and working through AA and therapy, Fox says he managed to turn things around. Not only did he conquer his drinking and chronic unhappiness, but he says the disease eventually brought meaningful change to his life.
"In fact, Parkinson’s has made me a better person. A better husband, father and overall human being. Life delivered me a catastrophe, but I found a richness of soul. I owe it to Parkinson’s, no doubt about that."
I've always thought Michael J. Fox was a class act, and I'm glad to see he's doing so well. What an inspiration this guy is.
Image via michaeljfox.org