Michael J Fox says paparazzi ‘heckling’ led him to reveal Parkinson’s disease diagnosis

Michael J. Fox has revealed felt pressured by the media to go public with his Parkinson’s disease diagnosis, recalling paparazzi ‘heckling’ him about his health.

The Back To The Future star, 60, told Entertainment Tonight the treatment he received from paparazzi significantly influenced his decision to share his battle with the condition in 1998, several years after he was diagnosed. 

“The paparazzi and stuff, they would stand outside my apartment and heckle at me, like, ‘What’s the matter with you?'” Fox recalled.

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Michael J. Fox

“I said, ‘I can’t be making my neighbours deal with this,’ so I came out, and it was great. It was a great thing.”

The Emmy Award-winning actor was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease at age 29 in 1991, going on to publicly reveal this fact in 1998.

Fox said he has used this experience to raise awareness and teach others about the long-term degenerative disorder.


“It was a great surprise to me that people responded the way they responded,” Fox told Entertainment Tonight.

“They responded with interest, in the desire to find an answer to the disease, and then I saw that as a great opportunity. I didn’t get put in this position to squander it.”

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This week, Fox is celebrating 20 years of his foundation with a benefit that will feature performances from Sting and Brad Paisley. The Michael J. Fox Foundation has raised over $1 billion for research into Parkinson’s disease.

Earlier this week, Fox told People, “The disease is a problem that will be there until you solve it. But we’re hopeful.”

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