The Washington Post

Michael J. Fox turns 50: We celebrate with an Alex P. Keaton fest

Michael J. Fox, being awarded the rank of Officer in the Order of Canada last month. (BLAIR GABLE/REUTERS)

Michael J. Fox is celebrating his 50th birthday today.

It may be tempting to pay tribute to him by citing his admirable work on curing Parkinson’s Disease, or his time-traveling genius as Marty McFly in “Back to the Future,” or even as an actor whose portrayal of a “Teen Wolf” has never been matched.

But I’d like to salute Fox wth a series of clips from the role that defined his career: as Alex P. Keaton on “Family Ties.” Alex was the most universally beloved Republican in America in the ‘80s — and yes, I am counting Ronald Reagan. And the reason he was so beloved can be attributed largely to Fox, who made smugnees look adorable and fiscal conservatism seem completely hilarious.

Enjoy a few highlights from the Alex P. Keaton library in honor of Michael J. Fox’s birthday, after the jump.

In the “Family Ties” episode “Speed Trap,” Alex ultimately demonstrated the dangers of taking speed. But before that happened, he made manic behavior look both delightful and amusing:

Alex P. Keaton may be smart. But during a live quiz show, he cracked under the pressure. After seeing this episode, I could never say “Straits of Magellan” without thinking of a tongue-tied Michael J. Fox.

After turning the Keaton household into a hotel entitled Keaton Manor, Alex apologizes to his dad, and confesses that he is a “moneyholic.”

Okay, watching this Alex/Ellen montage — the beginning of which is set to their song, “At This Moment,”by Billy Vera and the Beaters — is more than a little cheesy. But when one considers that Fox and Tracy Pollan eventually married and remain married now, it turns into something poignant. (Also, still a lttle cheesy.)

And appropriately enough, here’s Fox as Alex Keaton celebrating his 18th birthday, with an assist from Crispin Glover and Kate Vernon, who would later play the evil Benny in “Pretty in Pink.”

When she isn’t at a movie theater or writing about movies, Jen Chaney is ... um ... probably at home, watching a movie.


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