Tracy’s Turn

“Growing up in New York was a blessing and a curse,” says
New York-based actress Tracy Pollan. “Everywhere else I go seems slower and
less exciting.” At 50 years old, you would think that Pollan’s life would be
exciting enough. She’s been married to ’80s idol Michael J. Fox for 22 years,
with whom she raises four kids while keeping up her career—but the pulsing
streets of New York are in her blood. “I love the energy of New York. It’s part
of who I am,” explains the petite blonde, a bundle of energy herself. After shooting
a cover story all day, she quickly changes from an aqua-green Carolina Herrera
gown into jeans and a grey cashmere cardigan, and rushes off to see her
daughter’s after-school hip-hop performance. “I’ll be walking on a street in
other places thinking, ‘Why is everyone walking so slow! Don’t they have to be
anywhere?’ It’s terrible, but I walk really fast and I get a million things
done in a day.”

New York may be their home now, but Pollan and Fox met in
Hollywood in 1987 when Pollan played girlfriend Ellen Reed to Fox’s Alex
Keaton on the long-running sitcom “Family Ties.” Just three years into their
marriage, Michael was diagnosed with Parkinson’s, a degenerative neurological
disease. Though there’s currently no cure, Fox and Pollan work tirelessly with
the foundation they started in 2000 to raise money for Parkinson’s research:
The Michael J. Fox Foundation. Pollan has just finished designing a line of
sterling silver dog tags adorned with inspirational phrases in collaboration
with Ralph Lauren and the couples hosts host large, star-studded fundraisers in both New
York and L.A.
(It’s Funny in N.Y. and It’s Sunny in L.A.).

And through it all they’ve raised four beautiful children:
Sam is in his junior year in college on the West Coast and twins Aquinnah and
Schuyler are sophomores in high school. The youngest, Esme, is in third grade
and already asking her mom if she can be an actress. She recently went to visit
Pollan in New Orleans where she was filming the sequel to Lifetime‘s 2009 film,
Natalee Holloway, about Natalee’s disappearance on a Spring Break trip to Aruba
in 2005. Pollan plays Holloway’s distraught but determined mother, Beth Twitty.

But for the most part, their family life is anchored in
Manhattan. The couple lives on the Upper East Side only three blocks from where
Pollan grew up. And though she still goes out to L.A. for pilot season and
awards shows, “the stars would really have to be in line” for her to book a
show there.

After all, her life in New York
keeps Pollan surrounded by family and friends, and allows
her to maintain a
certain degree of anonymity. She is still very close to her parents and
siblings, all well-known in New York literary circles. Mom Corky wrote a
popular column in New York Magazine called “Best
Buys” and contributed regularly
to Gourmet; dad Stephen is a lawyer, consultant and prolific business-advice
book writer; and older brother Michael is the author of the The Omnivore’s
, a foodie’s manual to eating ethically. “That gene just skipped me,”
says Pollan of her family’s flair for the written word. On weeke
nds the family
heads to the Connecticut
countryside (minus brother Michael, who is a professor at Berkeley)
for some “extended family time.”

During the week when they’re back in the city, Pollan
usually tries to stay home to help the kids with their homework and cook
“family dinner,” which they have every night. “We eat lots of chicken and fish
and tons of vegetables—it’s always a big meal,” says Pollan. Michael’s
favorite? “I make a really good chicken bouillabaisse that he really likes.” Date
night, however, usually involves dinner out. “We love going out to new
restaurants, and we live uptown so we love going out downtown.”

When asked if there is a group of actor-couples who hang out
in New York, Pollan says, “If there is, we don’t know about it!” Instead, they’ve
met most of their friends through their children. “We have a few friends that
are actor couples, but for the most part, our friends are not in the
business—they’re business people. I think it’s a little bit different in L.A.
But my really good friends are people I met through my children. I remember
Michael told me that his mother once said the best friends you’ll ever make are
the friends you meet through your kids
, and that’s really been the case for us.”

That is, aside from her best friend, Dirty Dancing star
Jennifer Grey. They met back in high school, “in the program for people who
were bad at math, so we had that in common—we were at Dalton and we met in this
tiny room with all these other mathematically-challenged people!” Grey recalls.
Grey now lives in L.A., but Pollan says they talk “constantly” and their
daughters Esme and Stella are best friends as well. “Stella [Grey’s daughter]
wants to name her daughter Esme and Esme wants to name her daughter Stella,
could get confusing,” laughs Pollan. “It’s really cute.” When she goes
out to L.A., Pollan and Grey usually go to dinner or exercise together. “We
never don’t see each other when we’re on the same coast,” Grey says. “We need a
couple of visits; one time is never enough to catch up.”

Back in the ’80s whtracy_and_girls.jpgen they were all becoming stars in L.A.,
Pollan says it was growing up in the city with her affluent, literary-min
family that helped her to handle her fame (she also starred in the coming-of-age
dramas “Promised
Land” with Meg Ryan and Kiefer Sutherland and “Bright Lights,
Big City
” opposite Fox) more gracefully than Fox who, back in 1987, was
enjoying his “Family Ties” fame with a garage full of cars and a house full of
stuff. “I grew up with a lot more, so for me, it was all about being more
subtle and just trying not be flashy.” But despite his Hollywood phase,
something made her stick around. “On paper he looked like a guy that I should
have stayed away from
. He was wild, but I could see something there,” she
explains. “And also when I met his family—they’re such a strong, loving and
grounded family and I knew that that’s where he’d come from and would hopefully

And he did. Pollan attributes her stable marriage to the
example her family and the Foxes set. “My parents were such a strong couple and
that was my foundation, and Michael had the same thing. I think if you have
that as your foundation, you’re really so far ahead of the game,” says Pollan.
“That’s what I knew. Anything different than that would have been not the

Despite her hectic city life, Pollan does take time to slow
down. She and Fox do the New York Times crossword puzzle together (he’s sports
and politics, she’s literature and medicine) every morning. Even better than
solving Sunday’s puzzle is feeling content in her life and relationship. “I
feel like we finally figured it out,” Pollan says. “We know the drill and we
just are able to be.”

Photography by Chayo Mata
Styled by Cricket Burns
Hair by Creighton Bowman for Exclusive Artists Management
Makeup by Troy Surratt for Artists by Timothy Priano
Photographed on Location at 15 Union Square West

Above right: Tracy Pollan with husband Michael J. Fox at the New York City Ballet Spring Gala, 2008.

Above left: Tracy Pollan with daughters Aquinnah and Schuyler at the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research Benefit, November 2010.