Here’s a fun trivia question to ask your friends: What is Michael J. Fox‘s middle name? We wouldn’t blame you for thinking it started with “J.” But after a little digging, we discovered Fox’s middle name is actually Andrew. Who’d a thunk it? Intrigued, we decided to find out all we could, and it turns out the Back to the Future star’s middle initial has quite an interesting backstory.
When he was born, the man we now know as Michael J. Fox was simply Michael A. Fox. So what inspired the change? Well, in his autobiography, Lucky Man: A Memoir ($6.51, Amazon), Fox said the name change happened for a number of reasons. First was the fact that “Michael A. Fox” sounded odd to him because “fox” can also be used to describe someone attractive. Fox, who is from Canada, also thought his middle initial sounded too close to the Canadian phrase “Eh.” Because Fox didn’t like the idea of saying Andrew or Andy instead, he just changed it entirely to “J” in honor of Michael J. Pollard, an actor known for his work in the 1967 movie Bonnie & Clyde.
Michael J. Fox isn’t the only celebrity who uses a middle initial: There’s Samuel L. Jackson and William H. Macy. He also isn’t the first celebrity to change his name: Elton John was born Reginald Kenneth Dwight, while Whoopie Goldberg was originally christened Caryn Elaine Johnson. But Fox may be one of the few actors we can think of with a middle initial that’s totally made up.
For much of his young career, Fox was considered quite a teen heartthrob, so we don’t think it would have been totally out there if he had kept the “A.” And though we’ll never know whether the “J” really made that much of a difference (no matter his name, the stellar acting skills were always there!), we can’t imagine calling him anything else.