About 35 years ago, when Tracy Pollan vowed that she’d be with Michael J. Fox “for better or for worse and in sickness and in health,” she meant every word.
In early November, the star of Family Ties shared how he and his devoted wife navigate the progressive brain disease that’s slowly killing him.
Finding fame while portraying the ambitious and intelligent Alex P. Keaton in the hit TV series Family Ties (1982 to 1989), a young Michael J. Fox was poised to be one of Hollywood’s greatest stars.
The Golden Globe winning-actor was the cute preppy, Canadian-born actor that girls around the world were swooning over.
But when he met Tracy Pollan, who played his girlfriend Ellen Reed on the award-winning comedy series that spanned seven seasons, it was game over.
Pollan, now 63, and Fox, 62, were married in 1988 at the height of his career, just as his TV personality was transitioning into a film star as Marty McFly in the Back to the Future trilogy.
In 1991, the same year his comedy film Doc Holiday was released, the Emmy Award-winning actor, 29 at the time, was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease.
In November 2022, while accepting the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award in November 2022, Fox recalled his painful journey with Parkinson’s disease.
“I was told I only had 10 years left to work. That was s—ty. That’s what happened. The hardest part of my diagnosis was grappling with the certainty of the diagnosis and the uncertainty of the situation,” Fox said. “I only knew it would get worse. The diagnosis was definite, the progress was indefinite and uncertain. My wife [Pollan] made it clear that she was with me for the duration. But my young son, Sam, didn’t know. He didn’t have a choice.”
The couple share a son Sam Michael, 34, twin daughters, Aquinnah Kathleen and Schuyler Frances, 28, and their youngest, Esmé Annabelle, 21.
“Then I entered into seven years of denial, trying to make sense of it all. The kid who left Canada convinced that he would make anything happen, at least by working hard and by believing, now had a tall order in front of him,” Fox said.
In March 2023, the couple spoke with People about their continued support for one another and how they nurture their relationship.
“I think we really listen to each other; we are there for each other when we need each other,” Pollan said. “And then we also give each other space when that’s needed. Just feeling off of what’s needed at the moment and trying to be there.”
Adding to that sentiment, Fox chimed in saying, “Tracy gives our family everything that we need. Any good in our family, anything good that we do, comes from her.”
In early November 2023, the Teen Wolf star spoke on CBS Mornings and discussed how his loving wife has been his greatest champion for 35 years.
“It’s been great for me, I don’t know how it is for her,” Fox joked. “I love Tracy obviously and she’s an amazing person and has gone through a lot. I realize she has a life separate from me having Parkinson’s, from me being Alex Keaton or Marty McFly, she’s a person. I think that’s why it’s gone okay.”
The star, who voiced Chance on the 1993 family film Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey, also shared how Pollan continues to honor her wedding vows.
“I had no idea what to expect [since the diagnosis], and neither did she. She had indicated to me by saying, for better or for worse, in sickness and in health…She was able to get me through it, and go through it with me. And she has for 35 years.”
Speaking about the uncertainty of his “certain” future, Fox adds, “We knew the bus was coming and we knew it was going to hit, but we didn’t know how far away it was or how fast it was going.”
Later in the interview, Fox shares that he would have understood if she wanted to leave after his life-changing diagnosis and even forgiven her.
“At any time she would have been forgiven to say, “I’m just gonna step out.’ But, she didn’t do that.” Showing that she took their wedding vows seriously and would stick by her husband through anything in the world.