Entertainment

Michael J. Fox + Tracy Pollan: From 'Family Ties' to a 32-Year Love Story

Charles Sykes/Invision/AP

Few celebrity marriages can say that they have happily lasted for over three decades. But Michael J. Fox and his wife Tracy Pollan have proven that in a tough industry you really can find true love that is strong enough to withstand anything, even a strenuous battle with Parkinson's disease. 

Fox grew up as an actor and found his big breakout on the TV comedy, Family Ties. When it came time for the network to cast his onscreen girlfriend, they cast a 25-year-old Tracy Jo Pollan opposite the 24-year-old Fox (both playing teens onscreen). Though Pollan was the perfect onscreen love interest who was strong enough to work with Fox's character Alex P. Keaton, the stars weren't aligned for them to try a relationship in real life...probably because Pollan was already taken by another '80s heartthrob -- Kevin Bacon.

Tracy Pollan
ASSOCIATED PRESS

"I fly home to Kevin the second filming shuts down," Pollan told People in 1986. "We will probably marry, but I feel like we're kids still, and marriage is such a grown-up thing."

The couple shared a Manhattan apartment in New York City as well as a Connecticut farmhouse together. They had met 5 years prior in a Broadway play and were incredibly serious. At the time, Fox was also in a relationship with someone else, Nancy McKeon from NBC's Facts of Life.

During the '80s, Fox skyrocketed to stardom through the wildly successful Back to the Future franchise. He told Oprah he was really on top of the world. 

"Before Tracy and I started seeing each other, I was this boy prince of Hollywood. I had a Mercedes and a Ferrari and a Range Rover, and I was really nuts."

Tracy Pollan
ASSOCIATED PRESS

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On the sitcom, Alex got a replacement love interest played by Courteney Cox. But he reunited with Pollan, who had since appeared in films Promised Land, The Little Sister, and The Baron and the Kid, on the set of Bright Lights, Big City. After a lunch date, they were officially an item. One year later, they tied the knot. Coincidentally, this was around the same time that Kevin Bacon met his longtime love, Kyra Sedgwick. It all worked out for everyone! Pollan and Fox said 'I do' on July 16, 1988, at the West Mountain Inn in Arlington, Vermont.

In 1989, the couple welcomed their first child, son Sam Michael Fox. Just two years later, at the young age of 29, Fox was diagnosed with the incurable Parkinson's Disease. At the time, his symptoms were minimal so the actor decided to deal with his prognosis privately. Even when he starred in his Emmy Award-winning role in Spin City, no one had any idea until he finally made the public announcement in 1998 during the show's third season. Fox had undergone brain surgery to try and help deal with some of the tremors that are common with Parkinson's but it had gotten to the point where he needed to take some time off and he retired from his show. 

Fox underwent a deep depression with his illness and even dealt with some alcohol abuse, but Pollan stood by him through all of it. She even helped create the Michael J. Fox Foundation, which is known for raising money for research and awareness of Parkinson's Disease. He has easily become the face behind the illness and helped bring more attention and understanding of the disease. 

Tracy Pollan
Greg Allen/Invision/AP

Fox and Pollan welcomed three more children, twin daughters Schuyler and Aquinnah, and youngest daughter Esmé. Fox has continued acting, returning television to star in The Michael J. Fox Show as well as appear in numerous shows like The Good Wife and Designated Survivor. 

Pollan has also continued acting with appearances in the film Natalee Holloway as well as TV shows Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, Law & Order: Criminal Intent, and Medium. In 2014, she also published a cookbook, The Pollan Family Table. 

When asked about the key to their longtime successful relationship, Pollan told People that it's all about understanding.

"Just give each other the benefit of the doubt. He assumes I'm doing the best I can."

Fox added, "Find the best things about you and the best things about life and celebrate them."

This article was originally published on June 19, 2020.

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Michael J. Fox + Tracy Pollan: From 'Family Ties' to a 32-Year Love Story