Pop Culture

Michael J. Fox reveals Matthew Perry’s quiet generosity in touching story

Michael J. Fox is sharing a special memory of the unsung generosity of his fellow Canuck and hockey pal Matthew Perry.

Fox, 62, sat down with Entertainment Tonight over the weekend to talk about his annual fundraising benefit for The Michael J. Fox Foundation and how Perry, the late Friends star, played an important and generous role in the organization’s early days.

“I hope this isn’t indiscreet, but when they first made their big sale and were made millionaires for the rest of their lives, [Perry] wrote a big fat cheque to the foundation,” Fox told the outlet, referencing when the cast of Friends inked their historic $1 million per episode contracts.

“We were really early on and trying to find our feet. And it was such a vote of confidence,” he added. “And it wasn’t accompanied by any self-aggrandizing or anything, he was just like, ‘Take it and do your best.’ I loved that.”

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Fox was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 1991 and founded the non-profit in 2000 to fund research for a cure and to improve therapies for those living with the disease. (To date, his foundation has contributed a staggering $2.37 billion to Parkinson’s research.)

Nearly a year before his Oct. 28 apparent drowning, Perry expressed his admiration for Fox, saying the Family Ties actor was a big influence on him as a teen.

“I was young, I had done a couple of plays in school, and Michael J. Fox was it, man. When I was in ninth grade, Michael J. Fox had just done Back to the Future, and there was smoke coming out of my ears, I was so jealous of this guy,” Perry explained during an event to promote the release of his memoir, Friends, Lovers, and the Big Terrible Thing.

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“And he had, at the time, the no. 1 TV show and the no. 1 movie at the same time! So he was huge. And I don’t know anybody else who’s done that — except me.”

News of Perry’s death broke late last month after he was found “unconscious in a stand-alone jacuzzi” by law enforcement officials in his Pacific Palisades home. The Los Angeles Fire Department confirmed the 54-year-old had been “deceased prior to the first responder’s arrival.” The official cause of death has yet to be confirmed pending a toxicology report.

On Saturday, Fox shared that he and Perry had hit the ice together over the years, bonding over their mutual love of hockey.

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“Matthew and I had spent some time together over the years,” Fox shared. “He was a hockey player, a good hockey player, and we played hockey together.”

Perry’s 10 seasons on Friends made him one of Hollywood’s most recognizable actors, starring opposite Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Matt LeBlanc, Lisa Kudrow and David Schwimmer as a friend group in New York.

As Chandler, he played the quick-witted, insecure and neurotic roommate of LeBlanc’s Joey and a close friend of Schwimmer’s Ross.

Perry described himself as half-Canadian and had deep ties to some of the biggest names in Canadian politics.

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He lived between Ottawa, Montreal and Toronto with his Canadian mother, Suzanne Perry, who worked as press secretary for then-prime minister Pierre Trudeau and later as a national anchor for Global News.

With files from Global News’ Kathryn Mannie

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