The word was out. After a 14-month courtship, cutesy-pie actor Michael J. Fox, 27, and his former Family Ties co-star Tracy Pollan, 27, were going to tie the knot on Saturday, July 16. The big question was, where? Some claimed it would be at the suburban New York home of Pollan’s family. Others speculated that the ceremony would take place at Fox’s recently purchased 120-acre farm in South Woodstock, Vt.
Still others insisted it would be held south of there, near the home of Fox’s friend, Family Ties producer Gary David Goldberg. As reporters took off on a statewide Fox hunt, normally taciturn Vermonters became virtually mute about their newest resident. If they knew the nuptial whereabouts, they weren’t telling a soul.
As the sun rose Saturday morning, the media circle closed around West Mountain Inn, a small white-clapboard country inn in Arlington, Vt., run by Wes and Marianne Carlson. Fox and Pollan had stayed at the inn last October while farm shopping and had fallen in love with its charm. Earlier in the week, Marianne had come down the road to see Jim Walker, proprietor of Battenkill Canoes, Ltd. “She told me that there would be a ‘power wedding’ over the weekend and that some extraordinary security measures would be needed,” recalls Walker.
Carlson wasn’t joking. Fox, perhaps as a result of spending time with pressphobic co-star Sean Penn on the recently wrapped film Casualties of War, took virtually paranoiac measures to fend off the prying eyes of fans and photographers. Menacing-looking agents of a Los Angeles security firm were brought in to keep out journalists and to comb the woods around the inn for interlopers. A few locals walking in the woods were surprised when they were rudely threatened with arrest. One reporter received a shock from an electrified security fence near the inn. Residents who lived along the West Mountain Inn road were issued red plastic wristbands allowing them to travel back and forth to their homes. “I’m glad I’m not in show business,” noted one good-natured neighbor, Al Varin. “It all seems a bit crazy to me.”
Fox fans, some of whom had waited as much as 10 hours to see their hero wed, felt more put off. Many applauded the sentiment expressed in a sign pinned to a photographer’s shirt that read Michael J. Fox Is a Fink.
The secretive wedding party and guests began to arrive shortly after noon. First came Fox and Pollan, whisked onto the inn’s impregnable grounds in cars whose rear windows had been blacked out with tape and classy plastic garbage bags. Pollan’s clan—her parents, brother and two bridesmaid sisters—arrived to join Fox’s parents and four siblings from Vancouver, B.C., who were staying at the inn. In a steady stream came Fox’s pals: Cheers star Woody Harrelson, baseball-capped Justine Bateman, her current beau, Leif Garrett, and Dennis Quaid with Meg Ryan. Fox’s best man, a friend from high school, whizzed in and out of the inn, dutifully fetching ice and champagne.
At 6:11 p.m. Fox and Pollan took their places in a tent erected behind the inn. Friends and family surrounded the couple for the interfaith service, conducted jointly by a local minister and a rabbi (Fox is Episcopalian; Pollan is Jewish). Fox, dressed in a dark suit, and Pollan, wearing a simple off-white satin dress with a veil, exchanged vows and rings. “Michael seemed a little nervous,” said Rev. Joan O’Gorman, whom Pollan’s parents had sworn to secrecy two months earlier. “In fact, they seemed just like any other young and loving couple who were excited to be getting married.”
Well, not quite. As the service started, helicopters carrying photographers homed in for the kill over the inn, nearly drowning out the voices of the wedding party. O’Gorman asked Fox afterward whether the noise had bothered him. “He said not at all. Having just come from the set of Casualties of War, he scarcely notices helicopter noise anymore.”