Published On: Jun 13 2011 10:56:51 AM CDTUpdated On: Jun 09 2015 01:00:00 AM CDT
Even though it's been 26 years since the May 14, 1989, series finale of "Family Ties," the Keaton family still has a special place in the hearts of TV comedy fans.
The show bridged the gap between two generations with its interplay between hippie parents Steven and Elyse Keaton and their young Republican son, Alex P. Keaton, and his siblings.
It won the Fan Favorite category at the TV Land Awards in 2011, and many of the former cast members showed up to accept the honor. Some members of the cast went on to become superstars.
Meredith Baxter-Birney (at left) played Elyse Keaton, Alex's liberal mother. In reality, she's only 14 years older than Michael J. Fox, who played Alex.
She removed the Birney from her name when she divorced her second husband more than 20 years ago and now just goes by Meredith Baxter. She married for a third time in 1995 but divorced again in 2000 and then came out as a lesbian in 2009. On Dec. 8, 2013, she married her partner, Nancy Locke, a general contractor, with whom she has been since 2005. She continues to act today, appearing in guest spots in shows such as "Switched at Birth," "The Neighbors" and "Finding Carter." She also appeared with Patty Duke as one half of a gay couple on the fourth-season finale of "Glee" in 2013 and had a stint on the soap opera "The Young and the Restless" in the fall of 2014.
Michael Gross (on right) played Alex's ex-hippie dad, Steven, on the show. The sketch of the Keaton family during the show's opening sequence was drawn by Gross.
Gross is also well known for playing the character Burt Gummer in the "Tremors" movies and subsequent TV series. Since "Family Ties," he has guest-starred on many TV shows, including Michael J. Fox's former show "Spin City" and, more recently, other shows such as "Suits," "Anger Management" and "Grace and Frankie." In 2012, he co-starred with Baxter in the Hallmark Channel movie "Naughty or Nice," once again playing husband and wife, as they did on "Family Ties." He's also an avid model railroader and is the "celebrity spokesman" for the B&O Railroad Museum in Baltimore.
Michael J. Fox's (on right) conservative character, Alex P. Keaton, ended up becoming a central part of the show. Fox won three Emmys for his work.
Fox later became a superstar after the runaway success of the "Back to the Future" trilogy. He went on to star in other movies such as "Teen Wolf," "The Secret of My Success," "Bright Lights, Big City," "Doc Hollywood" and "The Frighteners" and then starred in the sitcom "Spin City" from 1996 to 2001. He was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease in 1991 and semi-retired from acting after leaving "Spin City." However, after making a return to acting by playing recurring characters on the TV shows "Boston Legal," "Rescue Me" and "The Good Wife," he scored his own sitcom, "The Michael J. Fox Show," loosely based on his life. However, the show was canceled after 22 episodes. He's also now an activist for research toward finding a cure for Parkinson's.
Justine Bateman (on right) played Mallory Keaton, who was often portrayed as an airhead and was fodder for jokes by Alex.
Bateman has made many TV guest appearances, including on her brother Jason Bateman's show, "Arrested Development." She has also recently appeared as a guest star on shows such as "Modern Family," "Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior," "Private Practice," "Psych," "Californication" and "Desperate Housewives." For a while she ran a production and consulting company named SECTION 5, but in the fall of 2012 enrolled in computer science courses at UCLA.
Tina Yothers (at left) played Jennifer Keaton, Alex and Mallory's younger sister and the baby of the show until Andrew, played by Brian Bonsall, was born.
Yothers has had only a handful of acting roles since "Family Ties" ended in 1989. She played the lead in "Lovelace The Musical," a 2004 stage show based on the life of former porn actress Linda Lovelace. She also appeared on VH1's "Celebrity Fit Club" and "Celebrity Fit Club: Boot Camp." In January 2012 she was featured on the ABC show "Celebrity Wife Swap," where she traded places with Niecy Nash of "Reno 911!" and "Clean House" fame. In February 2013, Yothers was also featured on an episode of the TLC series "What Not To Wear."
Brian Bonsall portrayed Andy Keaton, the family's youngest child, from 1986 through the show's finale in 1989.
Bonsall also had a recurring role in "Star Trek: The Next Generation," appearing in seven episodes in 1992-94 and then appeared in two TV movies, "Father and Scout" with Bob Saget and "Lily in Winter" with Natalie Cole, both in 1994. Since retiring from acting in 1995, Bonsall has had a number of run-ins with the law, including a 2001 DUI conviction and assault convictions in 2007 and 2010.
Marc Price played the nerdy, dim-witted next-door neighbor Irwin "Skippy" Handelman. One of Alex's best friends, Skippy had a constant crush on Mallory.
Price, seen here at the 2011 TV Land Awards, has done little acting since the show ended, instead hosting The Disney Channel's "Teen Win, Lose or Draw" from 1989-1992, working as a stand-up comic and producing TV shows. In 2013 he played himself in the indie comedy-drama "The Moon & The Starr."
Scott Valentine played Mallory's artist boyfriend, Nick Moore. Nick was introduced in 1985 and he became a recurring character for the rest of the series.
Valentine continued to act, mostly in TV shows and direct-to-video movies, since "Family Ties." His most recent role came in 2010 when he starred in "Airline Disaster" as the pilot of a hijacked airliner who also happens to be the brother of the U.S. president, played by his "Family Ties" co-star Meredith Baxter. He is now a partner in the investment firm Excelsior Capital Partners and remains involved with movie and television production as a producer and financier.
Tracy Pollan (left) was only on "Family Ties" for one season as Alex's squeeze, Ellen Reed. But it was enough to make an impact on Fox. The two married in 1988 and are still together.
Fox and Pollan have had four children. Pollan also has guest-starred on many TV shows, including alongside Fox on "Spin City," "Curb Your Enthusiasm" and "The Michael J. Fox Show," as well as on "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit," "Medium" and "Law & Order: Criminal Intent." Her most recent role came in a 2013 bit part on her husband's "The Michael J. Fox Show."
Another of Alex's girlfriends, Lauren Miller, was played by Courteney Cox from 1987 to 1989.
But of course Cox went on to become a superstar herself, spending a decade on one of TV's biggest hits, "Friends." She also starred in the "Scream" movie series and on the sitcom "Cougar Town."
Tom Hanks guest-starred in three "Family Ties" episodes as Elyse's brother, Ned Donnelly.
Hanks, seen here with wife Rita Wilson, had just wrapped up "Bosom Buddies" at the time and has gone on to an Oscar-winning movie career.
But Cox and Hanks are hardly the only future stars who made an appearance on "Family Ties." Future "Thirtysomething" star Timothy Busfield appeared in three episodes as Alex's friend "Doug."
Geena Davis portrayed an inept housekeeper in three episodes.
Before going on to play Fox's father in "Back to the Future," Crispin Glover played one of Alex's friends on the episode "Birthday Boy."
Julia Louis-Dreyfus portrayed a lawyer in the two-part episode "Read It and Weep" and would later star in the "Family Ties" spin-off "Day by Day."
Corey Feldman played a seventh grade classmate of Jennifer who was a nominated to win the best student achievement award on the episode "The Disciple."
Christina Applegate played Kitten, a member of Jennifer's band, on the episode, "Band on the Run."
And "Inception," "The Dark Knight Rises" and "Looper" star Joseph Gordon-Levitt played Dougie, a kindergarten friend of Andrew's in two episodes, "Sign of the Times" and "Father Can You Spare Me a Dime."