As Michael J. Fox turns 62, look back on the show that made him a star — and catch up with the rest of his castmates now
In the fall of 1982, a new family sitcom debuted on NBC, tracking not only the dynamics of parents and children but the country's ever-evolving political landscape. Family Ties brought together a mix of stars and helped one, a young Michael J. Fox, rise to the stratosphere (with some Emmy wins, too!). Here, on Fox's 62nd birthday, catch up with the beloved cast, then and now.
Michael Gross had a handful of television credits under his belt when he landed the role of dad Steven Keaton on Family Ties. His progressive character managed a local television station while dealing with the ups and downs of marriage and fatherhood.
In the years since, Gross, now 75, has worked steadily on both the small and big screens, notably in Tremors and on ER and The Young and the Restless. In a 2022 conversation with ET, he spoke of Family Ties' lasting legacy.
"You live in fear that you’re going to be canceled after the first 13 [episodes], or the pilot won’t even get picked up ... and then it got picked up for 13, and then you live in fear that it won’t be picked up for the back 13, and then it did. And then you think, 'Okay, it’ll be canceled after a year.' And then it wasn’t. And then seven years later, we had done about 175 episodes."
Gross wed casting director Elza Bergeron in 1984 and became stepfather to her children.
Meredith Baxter was 10-plus years into her Emmy-nominated acting career when she stepped into the shoes of family matriarch Elyse Keaton, following stints on the TV series Bridget Loves Bernie and Family.
Fun fact: she and Gross share the same birthday, and are close to this day.
"Meredith and I were both 35 when we met... We've known each other for 40 years and we're still friends," he told ET. "We love working together. We adore each other."
Since the series wrapped in 1989, she's stayed busy, too, joining Gross in a 2022 play and appearing on an endless run of TV movies, shows and films — even playing Fox's mom again for a few episodes of his sitcom, Spin City.
Michael J. Fox
Relative newcomer Michael J. Fox stole the show as young Republican Alex P. Keaton, earning five Emmy nominations and three awards for the role.
"I remember walking into the mail room and finding just these gobs of mail from pre-teens going, 'This is our guy,' " Gross recalled to ET. "You just said, 'Oh, this is a phenomenon ... This is exciting. [He's a] young, lovely, funny, handsome, non-threatening guy that girls are gonna fall in love with.' And they did."
Fox, of course, went on to big things, including the Back to the Future franchise, Doc Hollywood, Spin City, Boston Legal, The Good Wife and more, earning another 13 Emmy nominations and two additional wins in the process.
As of late, his Parkinson's disease activism has been his focus; since his diagnosis in 1991 (which he kept private for some time), he's been raising funds and building awareness through his namesake foundation. His journey was recently documented in the film Still: A Michael J. Fox Movie.
The actor, now 62, has four grown children with longtime wife Tracy Pollan, whom he met on the set of Family Ties.
Justine Bateman was just 16 when Family Ties premiered; she took on the role of somewhat ditzy Mallory Keaton, earning two Emmy nominations for her work.
However, the massive success of the show had its downsides for the young star. “We were at the level of fame where you just can’t go anywhere,” Bateman told PEOPLE. “You just try to keep your head above water ... [and] stay alive. I found it frustrating having no control over what people thought of [me]. I’m not saying I’m ungrateful for fame at all. I’m just saying it’s a crazy emotional experience.”
Following Family Ties, she continued working steadily in film and television, with roles on Men Behaving Badly, Easy to Assemble and Men in Trees, as her younger brother Jason Bateman's star was rising, too.
In recent years, the 57-year-old actress and mother of two (married to Mark Fluent since 2001) has become an advocate for aging naturally in Hollywood, first speaking to PEOPLE about skipping plastic surgery in 2013 and talking more recently about the stereotypes as she promotes her book, Face: One Square Foot of Skin.
At 9 years old, Tina Yothers took on the part of wise-beyond-her-years sister Jennifer Keaton. "I was just a kid being a kid," she said of her audition in a 2020 reunion.
"Behind the scenes we had so much fun," she added in the 2020 chat. "I mean, seriously, the water gun fights. The wrestling matches. We got in a lot of trouble, we weren't the most well-disciplined cast because we would have so much fun together."
She followed Family Ties with a handful of other roles before leaving acting behind, instead opting for reality shows including Celebrity Fit Club and Celebrity Wife Swap.
With husband Robert Kaiser, Yothers, now 50, has four children.
When he was just 5 years old, Brian Bonsall joined Family Ties as youngest Keaton sibling Andy, staying on through the show's final three season.
Speaking to Studio 10 in 2020, he said of his time on the series, "Good memories for sure. They were a second family to me, growing up doing that ... Michael J. Fox used to come pick me up in his Ferrari, taught me to dive into a pool. It was so comfortable hanging out."
He credited Fox with helping him fall in love with guitar, a passion he has followed through several bands since stepping away from acting in the 1990s.
Years later, in 2018, his costar Marc Price said Bonsall had moved past his transgressions and was recently wed.
Marc Price played neighbor Irwin "Skippy" Handelman, who was hopelessly in love with Mallory.
He appeared in a handful of other projects following Family Ties, though his true passion is stand-up. Despite being recognized more for the sitcom than his comedy work for a time, he told the Los Angeles Times, "Family Ties helped me. It helped me introduce Marc Price to people.”
In a 2018 interview, Price, now 55, revealed that he was still close with his castmates, even donating proceeds from merch sales on his comedy tour to the Michael J. Fox Foundation,
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