Michael J. Fox: Mr. 80s
He was razor-sharp smart. Funny. Smarmy. Preppy. And very, very Republican. So answer this: Is Michael J. Fox the most beloved of all 80s TV stars?
Fox, who turns 45 years old today, parlayed his big breakthrough as Alex P. Keaton on Family Ties into a substantial (if not fully appreciated) career in movies before Parkinson's Disease starting to slow him down in 1991.
Consider his TV peers of the 80s:
The Facts of Life gang: No one really sticks out here except maybe Lisa Whelchel ("Blair") and Charlotte Rae ("Edna Garrett"). The theme song still sticks in the head though, doesn't it?
Who's the Boss?: Sure, we may lust after Alyssa Milano and ponder the enduring charm of Tony Danza. But that's where the love affair ends.
The Full House crew: Dave Coulier, John Stamos and the Olsen twins. Ugh. Just creepy. Never mind.
Bill Cosby: He's a legend that transcends the decades. Could have been spokesman for the colorful sweater lobby, but squandered his power to pimp pudding.
Kirk Cameron (Growing Pains): Now a born-again Christian (usually marking the end of any career in Hollywood). He'll always have that flick with Dudley Moore --"Like Father Like Son" -- to hang his hat on.
Don Johnson (Miami Vice): Aside from Cheech Marin and former Times TV critic Chase Squires, does anyone really love the Donster? I'm still waiting for an apology for Tin Cup.
There are many more: The boozers from Cheers, Gary Coleman, David Hasselhoff (yeah, now I'm kidding).
I'm sticking with our man Michael J. (by the way, the J. doesn't stand for anything. His middle name is Andrew, but he adopted the J to honor character actor Michael J. Pollard.) Anyone remember what the P stands for in his character's name?
So beloved is the man and that particular character that there's a bar in London, Ontario, called The Alex P. Keaton. Check out the website.
These days, Fox has returned to do some small (but smart) parts in acting while continuing his push to find a cure for Parkinson's.
Five best Michael J. Fox movies:
5. Bright Lights, Big City: "There's a certain shabby nobility in failing all by myself."
4. The Secret of My Success: "I have become seriously and emotionally involved with someone who isn't my aunt."
3. The American President: "It's always the guy in my job that ends up doing 18 months in Danbury minimum security prison. "
2. Doc Hollywood: "You want to trade, the pig for the part?"
1. Back to the Future: Just the first one. The second two? Better left aside (along with the "Don't call me chicken" lines). "Are you trying to tell me that my mother has got the hots for me?"