‘Family Ties’ Starring Michael J. Fox Makes its Series Debut on This Day in 1982

by Samantha Whidden
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On September 22, 1982, well-known actor Michael J. Fox starred in the series debut of 1980’s American hit sitcom Family Ties.

According to its IMDb, the series follows liberal ex-hippies Steven and Elyse Keaton, their conservative son Alex (played by Michael J. Fox), and their daughters, Mallory and Jennifer. Their youngest child Andrew is added later in the series. 

The show’s newspaper description read, “This series offers a variation on the generation gap. With Meredith Baxter Birney and Michael Gross as liberal parents of three conservative children.”

Also in the series’ premiere, Alex is seen going to a restricted country club as a guest of his girlfriend and family. 

The show ran from 1982 until 1989. Starring in the series along with Michael J. Fox was Michael Gross, Meredith Baxter, Justine Bateman, Tina Yothers, and Brian Bonsall. Fox actually met his now-wife, Tracy Pollan. Her character, Ellen Reed, was Alex’s girlfriend. She appeared in 13 episodes from 1985 to 1987. 

‘Family Ties’ Star Michael J. Fox Reveals More Details About His Struggles with Parkinson’s Disease 

During a 2020 interview with People, Family Ties star Michael J. Fox revealed more details about his struggle with Parkinson’s Disease. The actor was diagnosed with the progressive nervous system disorder at the age of 29 in 1991. 

“My short-term memory is shot,” the Family Ties star declared in the interview. Fox also said that he always had a real proficiency for lines and memorizations. He recalled having some extreme situations where the last couple of jobs he had were actually really word-heavy parts. But he struggled through both jobs at the time. 

Fox also stated that writing is now his primary creative outlet.

“My guitar playing is no good,” the Family Ties alum admitted. “My sketching is no good anymore and my dancing never was good. And acting is getting tougher to do. So it’s down to writing.” 

Although the disease has taken so much from him, the Family Ties actor is refusing to give up. He also is remaining optimistic in order to get through the tough times.

“Optimistic is sustainable when you keep coming back to gratitude. And what follows from that is acceptance.”

The actor also said that accepting Parkinson’s Disease doesn’t mean you can’t endeavor to change. Nor does it mean you have to accept it as a punishment or penance. The acceptance is to put it in its proper place. “Then see how much the rest of your life you have to thrive in. And then you can move on.”

Michael J. Fox goes on to add that the past couple of years have been trickier for him than most. “But I have things that I’ve been blessed with that are just incredible. Life is rich. Life is good.”

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