Suffering From Parkinson's Disease, Michael J. Fox Leads Fight Against It

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Suffering From Parkinson's Disease, Michael J. Fox Leads Fight Against It

The actor Michael J. Fox stunned the showbiz world two years ago when he announced he had Parkinson's disease. This month, "People" magazine named Fox as one of the 25 most intriguing people of 2000.

The others include George W. Bush, Britain's Prince William, tennis champion Venus Williams and Meg Ryan, for her affair with actor Russell Crowe.

In January, Fox, 39, made a radical decision to leave the ABC's popular sitcom "Spin City," giving up his role as New York City deputy mayor. Fox, who had delighted fans with a comeback to television in "Spin City" in 1996, made his final appearance on the show in May.

Fox (real name Michael Andrew Fox) says he quit the show to devote more time to raising funds for research to combat the debilitating disease.

Throughout his 10-year battle with Parkinson's disease, he has helped raise money for research and has been an activist in helping his fellow sufferers.

"As a performer, I did my best, and now I want to do this to the best of my abilities," he told "People" magazine.

Parkinson's disease, identified in England in 1817 by James Parkinson, affects about 2 out of 1,000 people. It causes slow loss of body functions. Symptoms are muscle rigidity, tremors, voice changes and loss of mental capacities.

Now, as chairman of the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research, the actor has taken on the challenging role of lobbying Congress and running his organization's website (www.michaeljfox.org).

Fox, who is only 1.6 meters tall, was not the producer's choice when he started in Hollywood at age 18. From 1982 to 1989, he appeared on NBC's "Family Ties" as teenage capitalist Alex Keaton, for which he won Emmy Awards in 1986, 1987 and 1988. The role brought him worldwide popularity and success.

He then directed several TV series, including "Tales From the Crypt" and "Brooklyn Bridge." Fox later challenged himself even more when he directed and starred in "The Iceman Cometh" and "The Shadow Box" in 1991. He was then diagnosed with Parkinson's disease.

"The symptoms are slow or clumsy movements, garbled speech and tremors," Fox says. "They are tough to control even with medication."

But he refuses to let illness drag him down. He is now working on his autobiography.

And his strong "family ties" - wife Tracy Pollan (who starred with him in "Family Ties") and three children, Sam, 11, and twin daughters Aquinnah and Schuyler, 5 - give him inspiration to fight on, he says.

by Kim Jae-seon

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