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Top 20 Celebrity Activists of All Time

An inside look at stars ranging from Harry Belafonte to Ronald Reagan

Political activist Michael J. Fox speaks with Teresa Heinz-Kerry

Michael J. Fox talks with Teresa Heinz-Kerry, the wife of Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry, in 2004. — Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Michael J. Fox

Since revealing in 1998 that he has Parkinson's disease, Fox has been a powerful and poignant voice for expanding federal efforts to find a cure — particularly by funding stem-cell research.

In 2006, Fox effectively campaigned for several Democratic candidates who supported stem-cell research, most memorably appearing in an ad that helped Claire McCaskill win a Senate seat in Missouri. The ad, which dramatically featured Fox shaking uncontrollably, was instantly attacked by Rush Limbaugh, but the criticism backfired and compounded the ad's impact.

Fox's influence as an advocate is rooted both in his personal connection to his cause and the persistence of his work for it. "Few celebrities have ever been associated more closely with a cause for as long as Michael J. Fox, and his selfless efforts have inspired many others to follow suit," a Democratic insider said in National Journal's survey. A Republican said: "Michael J. Fox is unequivocally No. 1, because unlike the others, he is advocating for an issue that affects him personally and profoundly. It is moving."

Even as Fox has lobbied for greater government support, his foundation has funded more than $200 million in Parkinson's research, magnifying his impact.

Next: Bob Geldof >>

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