Roger L. Wollenberg/UPI/Landov; Andrew Marks/Retna
By Stephen M. Silverman
10/25/2006 at 03:05 PM EDT
Michael J. Fox has responded to conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh, who suggested that Fox's Parkinson's-related tremors in a TV ad for a Democratic politician were exaggerated.
In the ad for Missouri Senate challenger Claire McCaskill, who supports stem-cell research, Fox exhibits the severe shaking and stiffness associated with Parkinson's disease. (See clip below.) But Limbaugh said on his syndicated radio program Tuesday that Fox was "either off his medication or acting."
Campaigning in Chicago for Democratic Congressional candidate Tammy Duckworth, Fox shot back, "My pills are working really well right now," the Associated Press reports.
Limbaugh said on his radio show, "If this was not an act, then I apologize." He went on to say, however, that Fox is allowing his illness to be exploited.
Fox's rep, John Rogers, called Limbaugh's remarks "shameful," USA Today reports. "It's an appalling, sad statement. Anybody who understands Parkinson's disease knows it's because of the medicine that one experiences" involuntary movements like those Fox shows in the commercial.
Missourians Against Human Cloning, a group that opposes stem-cell research, will air its own ad during Game 4 of the World Series Wednesday night, the AP reports. The ad will feature celebrities such as Patricia Heaton, The Passion of the Christ star Jim Caviezel and the St. Louis Cardinals' Jeff Suppan, the starting pitcher in the night's game against the Detroit Tigers.
In Fox's 30-second spot for McCaskill, which has been viewed by more than 1 million people on YouTube.com, the actor, 45, tells voters, "What you do in Missouri matters to millions of Americans. Americans like me."
Parkinson's is a chronic, progressive disorder of the central nervous system that renders patients increasingly unable to control their movements.
Fox was first diagnosed with the disease in 1991 and went public with it in a 1998 PEOPLE cover story. In 2000, he stopped acting full-time because of the disease, devoting himself to spending time with his family (he and wife Tracy Pollan, 46, are parents to Sam, 17, twins Aquinnah and Schuyler, 11, and Esmé, 5) and working with his Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research.
Since then, the organization has raised millions of dollars.
In the TV commercial, Fox says McCaskill, who is currently Missouri's state auditor, "shares my hope for cures," while her opponent, Republican Sen. Jim Talent, wants to "criminalize" expanded research. Fox also says President Bush shares Talent's stance on stem cell research.
Talent's spokesman, Rich Chrismer, called Fox's statements "false" and said Talent supports "stem cell research that doesn't involve cloning or destroying a human embryo," according to USA Today.
Fox has also filmed commercials for Maryland U.S. Senate candidate Ben Cardin and Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle, and he is scheduled to appear at campaign events for Sen. Robert Menendez of New Jersey and congressional candidate Tammy Duckworth of Illinois, the AP reports.