Michael J. Fox
With two long-running sitcoms, multiple Emmy Awards and a top-grossing film series to his name, actor Michael J. Fox might have spent the rest of his life at the forefront of Hollywood's A-list, had the debilitating symptoms of Parkinson's disease not limited the actor's screen career. The Canadian actor was one of the biggest stars of the 1980s, first embodying the Reagan-era culture clash with his role as an aspiring yuppie teen on the sitcom "Family Ties" (NBC, 1982-89). He parlayed his flawless comic timing and clean-cut good looks into a successful film career as amiable boys-next-door, including one with access to a havoc-wreaking time machine in the mega blockbuster "Back to the Future" franchise. Fox challenged his image with grittier roles in films like "Bright Lights Big City" (1988), but more consistently scored as officious young professionals, like his starring role as deputy mayor on the sitcom "Spin City" (ABC, 1996-2002). In 1998, Fox disclosed that he had been diagnosed with the neurological disorder, Parkinson's disease, and semi-retired from acting in 2000, occasionally surfacing as a sitcom guest and voice actor in animated family films including the "Stuart Little" (1999) series. But with this new calling, Fox dedicated himself to publicizing the need for increased stem cell research for his disease as well as many other afflictions. While Fox's steady presence was missed on primetime, his inspirational advocacy on behalf of Parkinson's sufferers ultimately left a more important legacy than his roster of popular comedies.