Michael J. Fox will receive an honorary Oscar in November for his years of advocacy on behalf of patients with Parkinson’s disease. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced Tuesday that Fox will receive the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award along with several other recipients later this year. Fox himself has suffered from Parkinson’s disease since 1991.
“Michael J. Fox’s tireless advocacy for Parkinson’s disease research, along with his boundless optimism, exemplifies the impact of one person in changing the future of millions of people,” he said Tuesday. Academy President David Rubin. The Hersholt Humanitarian Award is given to people who make “indelible contributions to film and the world at large”. Other recipients this year include filmmaker Euzhan Palcy, songwriter Diane Warren and director Peter Weir. They will be presented at the Governors Awards on Saturday, November 19.
Congratulations to our founder @realmikefox for being named the recipient of the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award. From the release: “Michael J. Fox’s tireless advocacy…along with his boundless optimism illustrates the impact of one person in changing the future of millions of people.” pic.twitter.com/UpMutYSbGn
— michaeljfox.org (@MichaelJFoxOrg) June 22, 2022
Governor’s Awards is an annual event where the Academy’s Board of Governors presents honorary awards to members of the film community – often lifetime achievement awards taking into account the breadth of an entire career. These include the Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award and Honorary Award as well as the Hersholt Humanitarian Award. This year will mark the 13th Governor’s Awards in Academy history.
Fox is best known for his role as Marty McFly in Back to the future among other acting roles, but he is honored here specifically for his work advocating for the cause of Parkinson’s disease. The actor has used his platform to promote awareness, raise funds and fund research for decades.
Fox began showing signs of Parkinson’s disease while filming Doc Hollywood, which is when he was diagnosed. He said later The Guardian that he became severely depressed after his diagnosis and began drinking heavily. He eventually quit drinking altogether as he turned his attention to philanthropy and research. Fox founded the Michael J. Fox Foundation in 2000.
Fox has generally focused on research. While he helps raise awareness of Parkinson’s disease itself, he is particularly diligent in informing the public of the gaps in our knowledge on the subject and the obstacles that remain to finding a cure. It’s still unclear what causes Parkinson’s disease, or how it might be cured or even treated more effectively.
Fox technically retired from acting in 2020, saying he could no longer rely on his ability to speak publicly. However, he has made a few on-screen appearances since then. He also wrote a memoir titled No Time Like the Future: An Optimist Considers Mortality. It is now available in print, digital and audiobook formats.