- Michael J. Fox and Tracy Pollan met while filming ‘Family Ties.’
- They’ve been married since 1988 and have four children.
- Tracy has supported Michael through his battle with Parkinson’s disease and he expands on that support in his 2023 documentary, ‘Still: A Michael J. Fox Movie.’
Michael J. Fox is known for both his award-winning career as an actor and for being a leader in Parkinson’s disease research. In addition to starring in the 1980s sitcom Family Ties and the iconic Back to the Future films, he opened up The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research in 2000, nine years after he was diagnosed with the disease at the age of 29. Michael has been open about his struggles with the disease, opening up about it in his 2020 memoir, No Time Like the Future: An Optimist Considers Mortality, as well as his 2023 documentary, Still: A Michael J. Fox Movie.
Luckily, Michael has not had to deal with his changing career and Parkinson’s disease alone. In 1988, he married his former Family Ties co-star, Tracy Pollan, who has supported him ever since his diagnosis. The two were married for just three years when Michael learned he had Parkinson’s, and Tracy has been with him every step of the way. Of their nearly 35-year marriage, Tracy told PEOPLE in March 2023, “I think we really listen to each other, we are there for each other when we need each other. And then we also give each other space when that’s needed. Just feeling off of what’s needed at the moment and trying to be there.” Michael added that Tracy “gives our family everything that we need. Any good in our family, anything good that we do, comes from her.” Learn more about the pair’s relationship below.
Michael J. Fox & Tracy Pollan’s Marriage
Tracy and Michael met on the first season of Family Ties. Tracy was cast as Ellen Reed, who played the love interest of Michael’s character, Alex P. Keaton. While Alex and Ellen’s relationship ended, the show proved to be just the beginning for Tracy and Michael. While the two enjoyed a strictly professional relationship at the time, as Tracy was in a committed relationship with actor Kevin Bacon, sparks would fly by the time the pair teamed up for 1988’s Bright Lights, Big City.
Apparently, Michael hit up his former co-star as soon as he found out she and Kevin had broken up. “It sounds really horrible, but it was one of those things,” the young actor told People in 1989 about the start of their romance. “Someone goes, ‘Did you hear that so-and-so aren’t together anymore?’ and you go, ‘Hmm, that’s too bad. Where’s the phone?’” Tracy agreed to go on a date with Michael and the rest is history. They dated for about seven months and then got engaged on Dec. 26, 1987. Fox noted he was not at all concerned that Tracy would decline his hand in marriage.
However, they both had one problem. At the beginning of 1988, the year they would marry, Tracy began receiving death threats from a seemingly obsessed woman who said she would kill both Tracy and her husband-to-be if they went through with their nuptials. According to Michael, the woman sent more than 12 letters each day, which drove him to take legal action against the woman. She was eventually charged and sentenced to three years of probation for making terroristic threats.
Despite the hiccup, the pair were able to walk down the aisle at the West Mountain Inn in Arlington, Vt. The wedding was one of the hottest events of the time, and paparazzi swarmed the picturesque location by foot and helicopter. That didn’t stop the lovebirds from having a grand time, though. “Inside, it was like anybody else’s wedding. It was a house party. We rolled back the rugs and danced the night way,” Michael told People.
How Many Children Do Michael J. Fox & Tracy Have?
Tracy and Michael went on to have four kids together: Sam Michael, who entered the world one year after the lovebirds said “I do” in 1989, twin daughters Aquinnah Kathleen and Schuyler Frances, who were born in 1995, and daughter Esmé Annabelle, was born in 2001. “Tracy had a really good pregnancy, and it was a good delivery. Thank God, she was healthy and Sam was healthy,” Michael recalled to People in his 1989 interview after the birth of his and Tracy’s first child.
In 2019, Esmé turned 18 and went to college. “Our youngest is going off to college, so we are going to be empty-nesters, so… we are going to do some traveling!” Michael revealed to People at the A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Cure Parkinson’s Gala.
Tracy Has Supported Michael Amidst His Parkinson’s
Tracy has certainly been there by Michael’s side “for better or for worse, in sickness and in health.” In a 2020 interview to promote his memoir No Time Like the Future: An Optimist Considers Mortality, Michael gushed about how much of a rock his wife has been for him over the years. “She puts up with me,” Michael joked to Entertainment Tonight. “She doesn’t cut me any slack, which is great. She’s honest, affectionate, kind, smart and she’s just there in a pinch. She’s beautiful and I love her and she’s sexy and gorgeous.” He added that Tracy is “a great mother, great cook, and great bodyboard surf junkie beach babe” with his infectious sense of humor.
Michael shared a similar sentiment while speaking about his wife with Sunday Today host Willie Geist in 2020. “She’s there in the front lines with me every single day. She never pretends to know as much as I know. And the other thing Tracy does is, if there’s something funny, let’s get to the funny. We’ll deal with the tragic later,” he noted.
Of course, it hasn’t all been easy for Tracy. “Any time I would say to myself, ‘This isn’t what I bought into,’ it wasn’t about Michael being sick. It was about his doubting and the behavior that came out of that fear,” she explained to Oprah Winfrey in 2002 about the doubts they both would sometimes have. However, she credited Michael’s positivity with helping her see things in a different way. “A lot of my adjustment has been dictated by Michael’s point of view,” she recalled. “He’s so relaxed and so accepting of where he is, and that makes it easier for me, the kids, and everyone around him.”
In a trailer for his Still documentary, Michael also revealed how Tracy reacted when he told her that he had Parkinson’s disease in 1991. “I told Tracy the news,” he shared. “‘In sickness and in health,’ I remember her saying.” They had only been married for three years at the time.
Michael And Tracy Have A Few Pointers For A Successful Marriage
Michael and Tracy make more than three decades of marriage look easy. So, how do they do it? “Big families, middle children. Sense of humor. Both our families had that,” Michael explained to People in 2018. Tracy added, “It was us against the world. That’s exactly what we’ve created.” Later on, she said, “Just give each other the benefit of the doubt. He assumes I’m doing the best I can.”
Michael gave a more NSFW response to the same question during a 2019 appearance on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon alongside Tracy. “Well, as the glib one would say, I just feel funny saying ’cause my daughter’s in the audience, but keep the sex dirty and the fights clean,” he frankly stated. Now we know!
What Does Tracy Pollan Do?
Although Tracy dedicated herself to being a mother amidst Michael’s busy career at the beginning of their marriage, she is an actress in her own right, as well. Her major acting debut was in Family Ties, alongside Michael. She was on the show from 1985 until 1987. Tracy also appeared in two episodes of Michael’s show Spin City in 1997 and 1998. Some of her other acting credits include an appearance on Law & Order: SVU, Law & Order: Criminal Intent and Medium. Her most recent TV role was in an episode of Inventing Anna in 2022.
In addition to acting, Tracy is also a published author. In 2014, she released a cookbook called The Pollan Family Table with her mom and two sisters. The book includes recipes, kitchen tips and cooking techniques.