Michael J. Fox feels guilty that his Parkinson’s gave wife of 35 years a ‘trial’ that ‘wasn’t hers to endure’


Michael J. Fox this week said he feels his Parkinson’s diagnosis has given his wife Tracy Pollan a “trial” that “wasn’t hers to endure.” 

“She has this disease too in a sense because I do,” Fox, 61, told CBC News in a Thursday interview. “Right from the beginning, before any of this happened, I took this young actress whose career was hopping, she was doing great, she was beautiful, and I made her a single mother and I took her out of the game.” 

Fox and Pollan, 62, met on the set of his sitcom “Family Ties” in 1985 when she played his love interest and the two married in 1988 at the height of Fox’s “Back to the Future” fame. 

She continued to act intermittently but mainly focused on raising their four children: Sam, 33; twins Aquinnah and Schuyler, 28; and Esmé, 21. 

Fox continued, “I always felt bad about that and here I was doing it again with Parkinson’s, kind of superimposing my agenda and a trial on her that wasn’t hers to endure.” 

Fox was diagnosed with Parkinson’s just three years after they were married when he was 29. 

In March, Pollan said listening to each other and giving each other space are important keys to their marriage. The couple will celebrate their 35th wedding anniversary this July. 

“I think we really listen to each other, we are there for each other when we need each other,” Pollan said at a screening of Fox’s film “Still: A Michael J. Fox Movie.” “And then we also give each other space when that’s needed. Just feeling… what’s needed at the moment and trying to be there.”

In the CBC interview, Fox said he also struggled with his drinking after his diagnosis. “I just liked to party,” Fox said of when he was younger. “But then what happened when I got diagnosed, it turned nasty. It wasn’t about fun anymore, it was about exiting from the situation.”

But he said he was “shocked into action” to quit his drinking when he realized Pollan was “done” with the situation. 

Fox said his diagnosis also taught him to “lose well.” 

“I kept [the diagnosis] to myself for seven years,” he said. “Over the period of that seven years we had more children, I grew fuller in my understanding of what it was that I was dealing with and coming to grips with when the doctor said you don’t win this, you lose.”

“I like to win,” he laughed. “I don’t like to waste my time with stuff. I go after it. And so that was what I was faced with. If I really learn from this it was to learn how to lose well.”