Michael J. Fox, a five-time Emmy Award winner, says in his new memoir that the Parkinson's disease with which he has lived for decades may lead him to retire from acting.
"I'm not sure it ever did, but especially now, my work as an actor does not define me," the 59-year-old writes in his fourth memoir, "No Time Like the Future: An Optimist Considers Mortality," released Tuesday. Referring to his recent trouble memorizing lines, "The nascent diminishment in my ability to download words and repeat them verbatim," Fox says, "is just the latest ripple in the pond."
"There are reasons," he goes on, "for my lapses in memorization — be they age, cognitive issues with the disease, distraction from the constant sensations of Parkinson's, or lack of sensation because of the spine — but I read it as a simple message, an indicator. There is a time for everything, and my time of putting in a twelve-hour workday, and memorizing seven pages of dialogue, is best behind me. At least for now."
The star of such films as the "Back to the Future" trilogy (1985-1990), "Doc Hollywood" (1991) and "The Frighteners" (1996), as well as TV's "Family Ties" (NBC, 1982-1989) and the first four seasons of "Spin City" (ABC, 1996-2002), Fox was diagnosed with Parkinson's, a progressive nervous-system disorder, in 1991 and went public with it in 1998.
He continued working on "Spin City" through early 2000, making three guest appearances the following year, but otherwise did some voice roles until he took on multi-episode arcs on "Boston Legal" in 2006 and "Rescue Me" in 2009. He returned to headline NBC's single-season "The Michael J. Fox Show" in 2013 and has worked regularly since.
But now, he writes, "In fairness to myself and to producers, directors, editors, and poor beleaguered script supervisors, not to mention actors who enjoy a little pace, I enter a second retirement. That could change, because everything changes. But if this is the end of my acting career, so be it."
Fox and his Woodbury-raised actress wife, Tracy Pollan, 60, have a son, Sam, 31; twin daughters Aquinnah and Schuyler, 25; and daughter Esmé, 19. Manhattan residents Fox and Pollan have a second home in Quogue.