Michael J. Fox gets honorary Oscar

Fox received the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences' annual statuette for humanitarian work by a film industry figure


Published: Sun 20 Nov 2022, 1:31 PM

Last updated: Sun 20 Nov 2022, 1:38 PM

Michael J. Fox was awarded an honorary Oscar Saturday for his campaign to fund Parkinson's research since being diagnosed with the neurodegenerative disease at the peak of his acting career.

Fox received the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences' annual statuette for humanitarian work by a film industry figure at a black-tie gala crammed with Hollywood's biggest stars in Los Angeles.

"You're making me shake, stop it," joked Fox as he received a standing ovation, before describing his award as "a wholly unexpected honour."

Canadian actor Fox, 61, shot to stardom in the Back to the Future films while portraying time-traveling high-school student Marty McFly.

The trilogy between 1985 and 1990 thrust DeLorean time machines and gravity-defying hoverboards into the popular imagination.

In 1991, at the age of 29, Fox was diagnosed with Parkinson's and told he had 10 years left to work.

About 10 million people worldwide have Parkinson's, which erodes motor functions.

Woody Harrelson, who starred alongside Fox in the film Doc Hollywood at the time of his diagnosis, told the audience Saturday: "I just couldn't believe it because there's such an invincible, superhuman quality about Mike.

"Well, he never missed a step, never wallowed in self-pity... instead he turned a chilling diagnosis into a courageous mission," he added.

Fox, who first achieved fame on NBC's 1980s sitcom Family Ties, publicly disclosed his illness in 1998, during the run of his second hit TV series Spin City.

He semi-retired a few years later, dedicating himself to his Parkinson's foundation and raising more than $1 billion for research.

"It was clear that an aging, under-served patient base could use some help," he said.

"There was nothing heroic about what I did," said Fox.

Fox, who permanently retired from acting in 2020, has suffered multiple broken bones and injuries from falls in recent months, requiring surgery on his shoulder.

But he walked to and from the stage Saturday, asking his wife and former Family Ties co-star Tracy Pollan to help carry his statuette off.

The honorary Oscars are handed out every year to recognize lifetime achievement, and were spun off into a separate event in 2009 to declutter the main show's packed schedule.

Previous winners of Fox's Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award - handed out by the Academy most years since 1957 - include Angelina Jolie, Oprah Winfrey and Elizabeth Taylor.

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