‘I thought they wouldn’t laugh again’: Michael J. Fox, 59, says he kept his Parkinson’s battle a secret for seven years as he feared he’d lose fans

Actor Michael J. Fox attends "Tribeca Talks - StoryTellers: Michael J. Fox with Denis Leary" during the 2019 Tribeca Film Festival at the Tribeca Performing Arts Center on Tuesday, April 30, 2019, in New York. (Photo by Brent N. Clarke/Invision/AP)

By RIANNE ADDO FOR MAILONLINE

PUBLISHED: 07:44 EST, 19 November 2020 | UPDATED: 09:11 EST, 19 November 2020

Michael J. Fox revealed he kept his Parkinson’s disease a secret for seven years as he feared he wouldn’t be able to make his fans laugh again.

During a virtual interview on Thursday’s BBC Breakfast, the actor, 59, said he was surprised when he was met with a ‘receptive and supportive’ response from audiences after he publicly disclosed his health battle in 1998.

The Back To The Future star, who was diagnosed with the condition in 1991 at the age of 29, also shed light on his foundation, which was created to help find a cure through research. Michael J Fox talks living with Parkinson’s disease on BBC Breakfast'It was a strange period': Michael J. Fox revealed he kept his Parkinson's a secret as he feared he wouldn't be able to make his fans laugh again on Thursday's BBC Breakfast

‘It was a strange period’: Michael J. Fox revealed he kept his Parkinson’s a secret as he feared he wouldn’t be able to make his fans laugh again on Thursday’s BBC Breakfast

Explaining his initial worries about sharing the details about his disease, the comedian said: ‘My fear was that if they knew that I had an illness, a condition, that they wouldn’t be able to laugh.’

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‘When I opened up to people about it, they were incredibly receptive, incredibly supportive and the audience did continue to laugh and continue to watch my work.’'They did laugh': The actor, 59, was surprised when he was supported after publicly disclosing his health battle in 1998 (pictured with Meredith Baxter Birney in Family Ties in 1985)

‘They did laugh’: The actor, 59, was surprised when he was supported after publicly disclosing his health battle in 1998 (pictured with Meredith Baxter Birney in Family Ties in 1985)'It's been amazing': The screen star, who was diagnosed with the condition in 1991 at the age of 29, also shed light on his foundation, which was created to help find a cure through research

‘It’s been amazing’: The screen star, who was diagnosed with the condition in 1991 at the age of 29, also shed light on his foundation, which was created to help find a cure through research'We understand more than we're getting': The Back To The Future actor spoke about how he teamed up with scientists to fund research in the fight against the incurable health issue

‘We understand more than we’re getting’: The Back To The Future actor spoke about how he teamed up with scientists to fund research in the fight against the incurable health issue

The media personality later spoke about how he teamed up with scientists to fund research in the fight against the incurable health issue. 

Michael said: ‘Then this whole opportunity opened up, I started talking to scientists and they started telling me the science is ahead of the money. We know more than we can pay for. We understand more than we’re getting.

‘And I thought well, I can do that, I had some rich friends and then I had some friends out in the public that who would like to find an answer to this problem that so many people that they love and know suffer from and so we set up a foundation and that’s been an amazing thing.’

Parkinson’s disease affects one in 500 people, and around 127,000 people in the UK live with the condition. 

WHAT IS PARKINSON’S DISEASE? 

Parkinson’s disease affects one in 500 people, and around 127,000 people in the UK live with the condition.

Figures also suggest one million Americans also suffer.

It causes muscle stiffness, slowness of movement, tremors, sleep disturbance, chronic fatigue, an impaired quality of life and can lead to severe disability.

It is a progressive neurological condition that destroys cells in the part of the brain that controls movement.

Sufferers are known to have diminished supplies of dopamine because nerve cells that make it have died.

There is currently no cure and no way of stopping the progression of the disease, but hundreds of scientific trials are underway to try and change that.  

Earlier this month, the TV and film star recalled the advice his late father-in-law Stephen M. Pollan gave him amid his darkest moments.

The retired film producer, who appeared on ABC News to promote his new book No Time Like the Future: An Optimist Considers Mortality, detailed the key wisdom he relied on to push through the painful period.

Michael said: ‘He would always say, ”no matter what was going on, it gets better, kiddo. It gets better. The last thing you run out of is the future.”'He lived with gratitude': Earlier this month, the TV and film star recalled the advice his late father-in-law Stephen M. Pollan gave him (pictured with wife Tracy in 2019)

‘He lived with gratitude’: Earlier this month, the TV and film star recalled the advice his late father-in-law Stephen M. Pollan gave him (pictured with wife Tracy in 2019)Michael J. Fox discusses struggle after finding tumor on spine

‘He lived every day with gratitude and I realized, if there’s gratitude, then you have sustained optimism.’

The author also reflected on suffering from a spinal tumor and a subsequent broken arm two years ago as he said: ‘Everyone’s taking an abundance of caution with me and warned me to be careful. 

‘I have to think before I walk; I can’t just get up and go because I don’t have much control of my momentum and control of my direction.’ 

Michael and his wife Tracy Pollan wed in 1988 and are parents to four adult children: Sam, 31, twins Aquinnah and Schuyler, 25, and Esme, 19.'I have to think before I walk': The author also reflected on suffering from a spinal tumor and a subsequent broken arm two years ago (pictured in 2018)

‘I have to think before I walk’: The author also reflected on suffering from a spinal tumor and a subsequent broken arm two years ago (pictured in 2018)

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Michael J. Fox ‘kept Parkinson’s secret for 7 years’ due to fans

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