Michael J. Fox

Country of origin: Canada

Year came to U.S.: 1979

Education: Burnaby Central Secondary School

Organization: The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research (2000)

Headquarters: New York, NY

2019 revenue: $162 million

Worldwide employment: 226

  • Fox is widely known for his role as Alex Keaton on TV’s “Family Ties” in the 1980s.

  • The Michael J. Fox Foundation has contributed > $900 million to Parkinson’s disease research.

Many people know Michael J. Fox as the adorable Alex Keaton from the hit TV sitcom Family Ties. Some know him as Marty McFly in the Back to the Future trilogy. In the time Fox was garnering his four Golden Globe and five Emmy awards, however, he was also developing Parkinson’s disease, the thing for which he would become most famous.

Fox was born in Edmonton, Canada. Like many other Canadian boys, he dreamed of a career in the National Hockey League. As a teenager, however, he explored writing, music and theater and developed an affinity for the arts. He played guitar in garage bands before landing a major role on Canadian sitcom Leo and Me.

When he was 18, Fox moved to Los Angeles and soon landed the role of a lifetime: the NBC sitcom Family Ties. He went on to have major roles in movies like Doc Hollywood, The American President and the three Back to the Future films. Almost a decade after Family Ties had ended its successful run, Fox returned to series television with Spin City.

It was during this new television stint that Fox shocked the entertainment world and his fans across the globe by revealing he had Parkinson’s disease. Afterward, Fox committed himself to the campaign for increased Parkinson’s research. In 1999, he testified before congress for Parkinson’s disease research and treatment, and in 2000 he launched his own foundation. Fox has also chronicled his experience in four books, all New York Times bestsellers.

Based in New York City, the Foundation has a tremendous national presence. The Foundation has a portfolio of $800 million in funding for research, drug trials and other disease-modifying therapies for Parkinson’s and dyskinesia. In 2021, the Foundation began advancing a vaccine for Parkinson’s through clinical trials. Resources for understanding Parkinson’s can be found here on the Foundation’s website.

To learn more about how immigrant entrepreneurs give back, read the blog post Immigrant Entrepreneurs Embrace Social Responsibility.

Updated July 2022