25 Unknown Facts About The ‘Family Ties’ TV Series

Published on 06/25/2017
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For seven whole seasons, fans tuned in to watch the former hippies Steven and Elyse Keaton raise their three drastically different children. All the meanwhile, we laughed and related to the cultural divide of the 1980’s that was so clear on the show. Of course, this was also the show that introduced us to the great Michael J. Fox! As a result, we’ve decided to roll up our sleeves and present you with 25 facts about the hit television series that you probably didn’t know. Take a look and let the nostalgia run its course.

Michael J. Fox Met His Wife On The Show

While the relationship of Alex and Ellen didn’t last on Family Ties, the actors in real life have a longer and happier love story. Initially Tracy Pollan thought that the boy wonder was somewhat arrogant, however the pair dated and in 1988 they tied the knot. Just last year in 2016, they celebrated their 28th wedding anniversary. AWW.

Michael J. Fox Met His Wife On The Show

Michael J. Fox Met His Wife On The Show

The Sign Off Tag Features The Show Creator’s Dog

What you probably remember most about Family Ties is their adorable sign-off! You know the one, where the beautiful black Labrador is in front of the Louvre! Turns out that the gorgeous pup belongs to the show’s creator, Gary David Goldberg. Moreover, it’s Goldberg’s over you hear saying, “Sit, Ubu, sit! Good dog!” CUTE! I don’t need to be an independent financial advisor to know that’s the most adorable thing ever heard.

The Sign Off Tag Features The Show Creator’s Dog

The Sign Off Tag Features The Show Creator’s Dog

Michael J. Fox Used To Hitchhike To Work

The insanely popular Michael J. Fox has an estimated net worth of about $65 million, however he didn’t always start off that way. In fact, when the show started out, he didn’t have much cash so he would hitchhike to the Hollywood set from Brentwood.

Michael J. Fox Used To Hitchhike To Work

Michael J. Fox Used To Hitchhike To Work

Matthew Broderick Was First Choice To Play Alex

Don’t need an independent financial advisor to know that no one but Michael J. Fox was suited for the role of Alex! However turns out that Matthew Broderick was the first to be offered the part. Although, Broderick turned it down because he simply did not wish to move to LA. Moreover, Gary David Goldberg initially wasn’t even interested in Michael J. Fox for the role but he was convinced to bring him back see him read again. “So, [Weiner] calls him in, and I say, ‘Anything you want me to tell you?’ He goes, ‘No, just do it better, huh?’ And he gives me this little smile, and I’m thinking, ‘Matthew who?’ It was like ‘boom.’ He nailed it. He just played who he was, he played another side. He was Mike. And as soon as he left, I turned to Judith and I said, ‘This kid’s great. Why didn’t you tell me about him?’”

Matthew Broderick Was First Choice To Play Alex

Matthew Broderick Was First Choice To Play Alex

The Cast Had A 2015 Reunion

Get this, the cast wanted to forever prevent any chance of a revival of Family Ties, which I know sounds horrible! Hang on, it gets worse. They actually wanted the entire Keaton family to perish in a tragic airline crash in the show’s series finale. In 2015, they reunited for a feature interview in Entertainment Weekly.

The Cast Had A 2015 Reunion

The Cast Had A 2015 Reunion

Several Cast Members Showed Up In Fox’s Later Sitcom Spin City

Meredith Baxter and Michael Gross guest-starred in Michael J. Fox’s hit series Spin City after Family Ties went off air. Baxter played his on-screen mother…again, while Gross played his therapist.

Several Cast Members Showed Up In Fox’s Later Sitcom Spin City

Several Cast Members Showed Up In Fox’s Later Sitcom Spin City

Revenge Is Best Served On A Lunchbox

NBC’s man in charge, Brandon Tartikoff, once strongly argued that Michael J. Fox “didn’t have the right look to sell lunchboxes”. So when Fox became an international superstar, he got his revenge by creating a lunchbox for Tartikoff, which had his youthful face on the cover no less. Brilliant!

Michael J. Fox Showed That Revenge Is Best Served On A Lunchbox

Revenge Is Best Served On A Lunchbox

Scott Valentine Thought He Was Paid Too Much

Scott Valentine played the role of Nick Moore, Mallory’s intellectually challenged suitor, and we all loved him regardless. However in 1994, he actually confessed to the Canadian radio station CJAD 800 that he felt really bad for earning a “bundle of cash” just because he “grunted” on prime time TV. Not sure if that’s brave or stupid, maybe an independent financial advisor can fill in the blanks. Or maybe not.

Scott Valentine Thought He Was Paid Too Much

Scott Valentine Thought He Was Paid Too Much

He Also Saw Himself In The Character

Michael J. Fox has admitted that he saw quite a lot himself in the role of Alex and that this role taught him a ton about acting. “What I learned about acting, especially doing that show, is that I thought as acting, when I was younger, as something you put on a character. You’re trying to be somebody else, and really what it is, is trying to take stuff off. That’s the great fun of playing Alex: he is a kid who’s putting on all this stuff, and when it was really effective was when you see him naked. You see he’s just this scared kid.”

He Also Saw Himself In The Character

He Also Saw Himself In The Character

Skippy Is Now A Stand Up Comedian

Irwin “Skippy” Handelman is best remembered for his role of Alex’s nerdy friend and Mallory’s not-so-secret admirer. Ever since the show went off air, Marc Price has continued to make people double over with laughter. He now does stand-up work, and furthermore in 2006 he was featured on Last Comic Standing.

Skippy Is Now A Stand Up Comedia

Skippy Is Now A Stand Up Comedian

Michael J. Fox Filmed The Show And Back To The Future Simultaneously

Yup, Michael J. Fox worked on Family Ties and the first Back to the Future hit film…simultaneously! Fox admitted that he slept around three hours every night for four months in order to work on both projects at the same time. Now that’s dedication!

Michael J. Fox Filmed The Show And Back To The Future Simultaneously

Michael J. Fox Filmed The Show And Back To The Future Simultaneously

Meredith Baxter’s Pregnancy Was Written Into The Script

Family Ties made the decision to include Meredith Baxter’s real life pregnancy into the show. During seasons two and three, she actually served as inspiration to the show’s writers, because of her pregnancy obviously, to give the Keaton family another member, Andy.

Meredith Baxter’s Pregnancy Was Written Into The Script

Meredith Baxter’s Pregnancy Was Written Into The Script

It Enjoyed A Mutual Appreciation With The Muppets

Oh yeah, the shows Family Ties and The Muppets had a total mutual appreciation back in the 80’s. Bateman and Yothers would even appear in a photoshoot with Miss Piggy and co. for a special edition of Muppet Magazine. Moreover, there is a Muppet Babies episode where you can see the young in’s watching the show!

It Enjoyed A Mutual Appreciation With The Muppets

It Enjoyed A Mutual Appreciation With The Muppets

Gross And Baxter Have The Exact Same Birthday

Come on! Everyone’s favorite parents, Steven and Elyse Keaton who were played by Michael Gross and Meredith Baxter, even share the same birthday! Gross and Baxter were born on June 21, 1947 which makes them both 70 now. That’s just insane! They do NOT look older than 40!

Gross And Baxter Have The Exact Same Birthday

Gross And Baxter Have The Exact Same Birthday

The Cast Loved On Set Messing Around

Not surprising whatsoever but the cast loved to play jokes and mess around during filming Family Ties. In their 2015 reunion with Variety magazine, Justine Bateman said that Michael J. Fox had once started a water fight and even that Michael Gross and Meredith Baxter used to wrestle one another on the couch during breaks.

The Cast Loved On Set Messing Around

The Cast Loved On Set Messing Around

Michael J. Fox Described Alex As A “Scared Kid”

Michael has previously stated about his character: “I always thought of him like a mansion made out of rice paper. He looked amazing, he felt good about what he presented to the world, but you could poke your finger through it any time you wanted to. And then the fun was watching him react to that and recover from that and hoist himself back up to that place where he thought he was.”

Michael J. Fox Described Alex As A “Scared Kid”

Michael J. Fox Described Alex As A “Scared Kid”

Michael J. Fox Was Inspired By His Brother For The Role

First of all, Fox saw quite a bit of himself in his character Alex but turns out that he based some of Alex’s behavior off of his real life brother. He once said, “My brother was so funny at the dinner table that you’d wait for what he had to say. He’d put his glass of milk down and from the minute he took the glass of milk from his mouth you’re waiting for what he had to say. So later, all that became a part of Alex.”

Michael J. Fox Was Inspired By His Brother For The Role

Michael J. Fox Was Inspired By His Brother For The Role

Quite Likable

Canada born and bred, Michael J. Fox was respected and loved by Democrats and Republicans. Or rather his role of Alex was loved! Fox said, “As the character developed, Republicans really took Alex under their wing and made him a poster boy for the movement. At the same time, too, social liberals were writing me letters saying, ‘Way to go satirizing that point of view.’ So I was loved on both sides and that was uniquely about the character and uniquely about the show. It was one of the shows where it just caught a time. It just found its niche.”

Quite Likable

Quite Likable

Mallory The Ditz

While Mallory was a bit of a ditz on the show, the actress herself is nowhere near like that. Aside from probably being able to make it rather successfully as an independent financial advisor, our girl Mallory is a recent graduate from UCLA’s computer science and management program. Nice!

Mallory The Ditz

Mallory The Ditz

Three Times And Nadda

Nick Moore was easily one of most popular characters on the show, although originally he was only meant to last for just a single episode. Crazy, right? Gets better, though, kind. Later on, they attempted to kick off three separate spin-off shows, one was even called The Art of Being Nick, but all three of the pilots never took off.

Three Times And Nadda

Three Times And Nadda

Rumor Mill

As soon as the beautiful and insanely talented Courteney Cox (A.K.A. Monica Geller) joined the show as Alex’s girlfriend Lauren Miller – everyone started gossiping. Basically, many said that Fox broke up with Tracy so that he could be with Cox. However, the trio totally ignored all speculation as it was completely uncalled for and false. Michael J. Fox went on to say, “People always want to read there’s romance when it’s just two actors having a good time working with each other. I’m having a great personal relationship with Tracy and a great professional relationship with Courtney.”

Rumor Mill

Rumor Mill

First Times A Charm

Due to Brian Bonsall’s commercial roles, he nailed his first ever television audition and snagged the role of Andrew “Andy” Keaton. Just like that. Out of 500 child actors who auditioned, Bonsall was the one selected. However, recently he’s hit a bit of trouble with the law due to some violent acts committed.

First Times A Charm

First Times A Charm

Stars A Plenty

Plenty of famous, or almost famous, faces guest-starred on Family Ties. The likes of Christina Applegate, Geena Davis, Julia Louis Dreyfus, Crispin Glover, River Phoenix, and Tom Hanks.

Stars A Plenty

Stars A Plenty

Hit Song

Ugh, Alex and Ellen’s love song and then breakup song was the terribly beautiful, “At This Moment” by Billy Vera and the Beaters. However, here’s the beautiful part, the song was recorded in 1981. But it wasn’t until the show’s success in 1987 that launched the song to the hit number one spot! In both the Hot 100 and adult contemporary charts. *Whoa.*

Hit Song

Hit Song

Winner!

If you know a thing or two about being an independent financial advisor, then you’ll know that winning numerous awards is pretty spectacular. In fact, Michael J. Fox earned three consecutive Emmy Awards for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series. Not bad, not bad at all.

Winner1

Winner!

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