The beloved actor discusses his health struggles and his mortality in a frank interview set to air on CBS Sunday Morning.
Michael J. Fox doesn’t have any illusions about the challenges of Parkinson’s disease.
The beloved actor, 62, was diagnosed when he was just 29. On this weekend’s episode of CBS Sunday Morning, he sits down with Jane Pauley to talk about the increasing obstacles that come with the disease he ages.
A preview clip shows the frankness with which Fox faces his situation, admitting that things are getting worse. “It’s banging on the door,” he says. “Yeah, I mean, I’m not gonna lie. It’s gettin’ hard, it’s gettin’ harder. It’s gettin’ tougher. Every day it’s tougher. But, but that’s — that’s the way it is.”
Fox, a longtime advocate for Parkinson’s research through his own foundation, has been an immeasurable force for awareness and positivity.
His foundation has played an instrumental role in identifying a biogenetic marker that could help with early diagnosis and treatment. But even Fox can’t deny his own mortality.
He reveals to Pauley that he had spinal surgery for a benign tumor, which affected his walking and has led to a slew of problems, including two broken arms, a broken hand, and broken bones in his face.
“[Falling] is a big killer with Parkinson’s,” Fox says. “And aspirating food and getting pneumonia. All these subtle ways that get ya… You don’t die from Parkinson’s. You die with Parkinson’s.” He adds, “I’ve been thinking about the mortality of it… I’m not gonna be 80.”
Except for hiding his diagnosis in early days while he was still at the peak of his career, Fox has been remarkably open about living with Parkinson’s. He lays his story bare in the new documentary Still: A Michael J. Fox Movie, coming to Apple TV+ on May 12.
In both the CBS Sunday Morning interview and Still, Fox showcases the one thing no disease can diminish: his optimism. “I can be optimistic as long as I’m grateful,” he told EW during a recent interview about the documentary.
“And I can be grateful if I really think about it because I wouldn’t have had the rest of my life if it weren’t for so many things that Tracy [Pollan, his wife], chief among them, came in and intervened in. And it sounds hokey, but to this day, if I can find one little thing to be grateful for, I can be optimistic about it.”
Michael Andrew Fox was born in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, on June 9, 1961, the son of Phyllis (née Piper) and William Fox.
William was a 25-year veteran of the Canadian Forces who later became a police dispatcher, while Phyllis was a payroll clerk and actress. Fox is of Irish descent; his maternal grandmother was from Belfast, Northern Ireland.
His family lived in various cities and towns across Canada due to his father’s career. They moved to Burnaby, a city outside of Vancouver, when his father retired in 1971. His father died of a heart attack on January 6, 1990.
His mother died in September 2022. Fox attended Burnaby Central Secondary School, and has a theatre named for him at Burnaby South Secondary.
At age 16, Fox starred in the Canadian television series Leo and Me, produced by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, and in 1979, at age 18, he moved to Los Angeles to further his acting career. Shortly after his 1988 marriage, he moved back to Vancouver.