Edward "Dan" Aykroyd, CM (born July 1, 1952)
is a Canadian comedian, singer, actor and screenwriter.
He was an original cast member of Saturday Night Live,
an originator of The Blues Brothers (with John Belushi)
and Ghostbusters and has had a long career as a film actor
was born on July 1, 1952, at the Ottawa General Hospital
in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. He grew up in the Canadian
capital, where his father, Samuel Peter Aykroyd, a civil
engineer, worked as a policy adviser to Canadian Prime
Minister Pierre Trudeau. His mother, Lorraine Hélène
(née Gougeon), is a secretary, of French Canadian
descent. His brother, Peter, also became a comedy actor.
Aykroyd was born with syndactyly (webbed toes), which
was revealed in the movie Mr. Mike's Mondo Video and in
a short film on Saturday Night Live (Don't Look Back In
Anger). He was also born with heterochromia (a condition
of having two differently coloured eyes). His right eye
is green and his left eye is brown.
great-grandfather, Samuel Augustus Aykroyd (18551933),
a dentist, had been a mystic and had been involved in
Spiritualism, which would greatly interest Aykroyd, who
stated that "All that stuff was hanging around the
old farmhouse I grew up in, so I was kind of steeped in
was raised in the Roman Catholic Church, and had intended
to become a priest until the age of seventeen. He attended
St Pius X and St Patrick's. He went on to study criminology
and sociology at Carleton University but dropped out before
completing his degree. He worked as a comedian in various
Canadian nightclubs and ran an after-hours speakeasy (Club
505) in Toronto for several years.
musical career was initially developed in Ottawa, particularly
through his regular attendances at Le Hibou, a club that
featured many blues artists. He describes these influences
...there was a little club there called Le Hibou, which
in French means 'the owl'. And it was run by a gentleman
named Harvey Glatt, and he brought every, and I mean every
blues star that you or I would ever have wanted to have
seen through Ottawa in the late 50s, well I guess more
late 60s sort of, in around the Newport jazz rediscovery.
I was going to Le Hibou and hearing James Cotton, Otis
Spann, Pinetop Perkins, and Muddy Waters. I actually jammed
behind Muddy Waters. S. P. Leary left the drum kit one
night, and Muddy said 'anybody out there play drums? I
don't have a drummer.' And I walked on stage and we started,
I don't know, Little Red Rooster, something. He said 'keep
that beat going, you make Muddy feel good.' And I heard
Howlin' Wolf (Chester Burnett). Many, many times I saw
Howlin' Wolf. As well as The Doors. And of course Buddy
Guy, Buddy Guy and Junior Wells, Sonny Terry and Brownie
McGhee. So I was exposed to all of these players, playing
there as part of this scene to service the academic community
in Ottawa, a very well-educated community. Had I lived
in a different town I don't think that this would have
happened, because it was just the confluence of educated
government workers, and then also all the colleges in
the area, Ottawa University, Carleton, and all the schoolsthese
people were interested in blues culture.
gained fame on the American late-night comedy show Saturday
Night Live, where he was a writer and the youngest cast
member for its first four seasons, from 1975 to 1979.
Aykroyd brought a unique sensibility to the show, combining
youth, unusual interests, talent as an impersonator and
an almost lunatic intensity. Eric Idle, of Monty Python,
once said that Aykroyd's ability to write and act out
characters flawlessly made him the only member of the
SNL cast capable of being a Python.
was known for his impersonations of celebrities like Jimmy
Carter, Vincent Price, Richard Nixon, Rod Serling, Tom
Snyder, and others. He was also known for his recurring
roles, such as Beldar, father in the Coneheads family;
with Steve Martin, Georg Festrunk, one of the "Two
Wild and Crazy Guys" Czech brothers; sleazy late-night
cable TV host E. Buzz Miller and his cousin, corrupt maker
of children's toys and costumes Irwin Mainway (who extolled
the virtues and defended the safety of the "Bag-o-Glass"
toy, perhaps the retail leader of the "Bag-o"
series of toys); Fred Garvin male prostitute; and
high-bred but low-brow critic Leonard Pinth-Garnell. He
also co-hosted the Weekend Update segment for a season
with Jane Curtin, coining the famous catchphrase "Jane,
you ignorant slut" during point-counterpoint segments.
eccentric talent was recognized by others in the highly
competitive SNL environment: when he first presented his
famous "Super Bass-O-Matic '76" sketch, a fake
T.V. commercial in which a garish, hyper pitchman (modelled
after Ron Popeil) touts a food blender that turns an entire
bass into liquid pulp, "to [other writers and cast
members] the 'Bass-O-Matic' was so exhilaratingly strange
that many remember sitting and listening, open-mouthed
... Nobody felt jealous of it because they couldn't imagine
writing anything remotely like it."
Aykroyd was a close friend and partner with fellow cast
member John Belushi and shared some of the same sensibilities,
Aykroyd was more reserved and less self-destructive. In
1977, he received an Emmy Award for writing on Saturday
Night Live; he later received two more nominations for
writing, and one each for acting and Outstanding Comedy-Variety
later decades, Aykroyd made occasional guest appearances
and unannounced cameos on Saturday Night Live, often impersonating
the American politician Bob Dole. He would also bring
back past characters including Irwin Mainway and Leonard
Pinth-Garnell. During a couple of his guest appearances
he resurrected the Blues Brothers musical act with frequent
host John Goodman in place of John Belushi. Finally in
May 2003, he hosted the season finale of Saturday Night
Live. During his monologue, he did a musical bit with
James Belushi that was similar to the Blues Brothers,
but neither Aykroyd nor Belushi donned the famous black
suit and sunglasses. It was a unique hosting choice as
he was not promoting a project at the time and he did
not bring back any characters for this appearance. He
became the second member of the original cast to host
the show. On March 24, 2007, he made an appearance as
a crying fan of American Idol finalist Sanjaya Malakar
(played by Andy Samberg) during Weekend Update. On February
14, 2009, he made an appearance portraying U.S. House
Minority leader John Boehner.
was good friends with John Belushi. According to Aykroyd,
it was his first meeting with Belushi that helped spark
their popular Blues Brothers act. When they met in a club
Aykroyd frequented, Aykroyd put on a blues record to play
in the background, and it stimulated a fascination with
blues in Belushi, who was primarily a fan of heavy rock
bands at the time. Aykroyd educated John on the finer
points of blues music and, with a little encouragement
from then-SNL music director Paul Shaffer, it led to the
creation of their Blues Brothers characters.
by such experienced professional R&B sidemen as lead
guitarist Steve Cropper, sax man Lou Marini, trumpeter
Alan Rubin and bass guitarist Donald "Duck"
Dunn, the Blues Brothers proved more than an SNL novelty.
Taking off with the public as a legitimate musical act,
they performed live gigs and released the hit album Briefcase
Full of Blues in 1978. The Blues Brothers Band continues
to tour today, featuring original members Cropper, Marini,
and Dunn, along with vocalist Eddie Floyd.
in the incarnation of the Blues Brothers, John Belushi
joined the Grateful Dead on stage on April 2, 1980, for
a rendition of "Good Morning Little School Girl"
at the Capitol Theatre in Passaic, N.J (coinciding with
the Dead performing on SNL that weekend). John sang the
part usually carried by the late Dead band member "Pigpen."
Studios in Los Angeles was a regular haunt for the original
Blues Brothers back in the early days of the band. John
Belushi and Dan Aykroyd became fixtures at the recording
studio, while fellow Blues Brother Steve Cropper called
Cherokee his producing home. Whenever they needed a bass
player, they were joined by another Blues Brother, Donald
"Duck" Dunn. During this time, Cropper along
with producing partner and Cherokee owner Bruce Robb worked
on a number of music projects with the two comedian/musicians,
including Belushi's favourite band Fear and later Aykroyd's
and Belushi were scheduled to present the Academy Award
for Visual Effects in 1982, but Belushi died only a few
weeks prior to the ceremony. Though devastated by his
friend's death, Aykroyd presented the award alone, remarking
from the stage "My partner would have loved to have
been here to present this, given that he was something
of a visual effect himself." Not a few years before,
when he and John Belushi were making an appearance on
the Today show, he referred to them as "kindred spirits."
In the biography "Belushi", Aykroyd claims that
John Belushi was the only man he could ever dance with.
1992, Aykroyd, along with many other notable music and
Hollywood personalities, founded the House of Blues. Its
mission is to promote African-American cultural contributions
of blues music and folk art. From 2004 until its sale
to Live Nation in 2007, it was the second-largest live
music promoter in the world, with seven venues and 22
amphitheaters in the United States and Canada. Aykroyd
also contributes his voice to the weekly House of Blues
Radio Hour, which he hosts in the character of Elwood
Delaney aka Elwood Blues. This show is hosted in the United
Kingdom (from 1st September 2011) on London's Covent Garden
the Blues Brothers still tour. Dan Aykroyd still performs
as Elwood back with John's younger brother James Belushi
who plays "Brother Zee" on stage. They are almost
always backed by The Sacred Hearts Band.
with his work in Saturday Night Live, Aykroyd played the
role of Purvis Bickle, lift operator at the fictitious
office block 99 Sumach Street in the CBC Television series
Coming Up Rosie.
leaving Saturday Night Live, Aykroyd starred in a number
of films (mostly comedies), with uneven results both commercially
and artistically. He co-starred with Belushi in three
films, The Blues Brothers, Neighbors and 1941. One of
his best-received performances was as a blueblood-turned-wretch
in the 1983 comic drama Trading Places; a notable flop
was in the earlier 1941 (director Steven Spielberg received
the brunt of the criticism, but Aykroyd's performance
as an Army Sergeant was either played straight or completely
originally wrote the role of Dr. Peter Venkman in Ghostbusters
(1984) with Belushi in mind, but rewrote the part for
Bill Murray after Belushi died. Aykroyd used to joke that
the green ghost (who would later come to be known as "Slimer")
was "the ghost of John Belushi", based on the
similar party animal personality. Ghostbusters became
a huge success for Aykroyd as a co-creator, co-writer,
and one of the lead actors; the film's inspiration came
from Aykroyd's fascination with parapsychology.
participated in the recording of "We are the World"
was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting
Actor for 1989's Driving Miss Daisy. He was the second
SNL cast member to be nominated for an Oscar, the first
being Joan Cusack (Randy Quaid also received an Academy
Award nomination before either of them, but that was prior
to his SNL stint).
directorial debut was 1991's Nothing but Trouble. It starred
Demi Moore, Chevy Chase, John Candy and Aykroyd sporting
an oddly phallic prosthetic nose. The film was a critical
and box office flop. Other films starring Aykroyd in the
1990s, included Exit to Eden, Blues Brothers 2000, and
Getting Away with Murder; these were also poorly received.
He also made an uncredited appearance in the Michael Moore
film, Canadian Bacon as a motorcycle cop.
1994, Aykroyd made a guest appearance in an episode of
the sitcom The Nanny as a refrigerator repairman. In 1997,
Aykroyd starred in a short-lived sitcom on ABC called
Soul Man. The show lasted one season. In the 2000s, Aykroyd's
film appearances have tended to be small character parts
in big-budget productions, such as a signals analyst in
Pearl Harbor and a neurologist in 50 First Dates. In 2001,
Aykroyd starred in the Woody Allen film, The Curse of
the Jade Scorpion.
February 2007, Aykroyd revealed that he would be providing
voice-acting for a Ghostbusters III CGI project, though
these rumours were clarified later on, that the CGI project
was a next-gen video game that was currently in production.
In 2009, Aykroyd along with Harold Ramis, wrote and appeared
in Ghostbusters: The Video Game, which also featured Bill
Murray, Ernie Hudson, Annie Potts, William Atherton, and
Brian Doyle-Murray. On June 14, 2009, GameStop used an
outgoing phone message pre-recorded by Aykroyd to invite
pre-order customers to the launch event at 10 p.m.
wrote the liner notes for fellow Ottawa born blues musician
JW-Jones' album Bluelisted (2008).
2009, Aykroyd contributed a series of reminiscences on
his upbringing in Canada for a charity album titled Dan
recently, Dan Aykroyd and Chevy Chase guest starred in
the Family Guy episode "Spies Reminiscent of Us".
He also hosts the nationally-syndicated radio show House
of Blues Radio Hour under his Blues Brothers moniker Elwood
appeared in two February 2011 episodes of CBS' The Defenders,
which starred Jim Belushi. This information was announced
November 29, 2010.
has been inducted into Canada's Walk of Fame. In 1994,
Aykroyd received an honorary Doctor of Literature degree
from Carleton University. In 1998, he was made a Member
of the Order of Canada.
also received a dubious honour in 1997, when the Committee
for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal
awarded him the Snuffed Candle award, for "contributing
to the public's lack of understanding of the methods of
scientific inquiry." CSICOP did this in response
to Aykroyd's program Psi Factor.
popular Scottish band Dananananaykroyd named themselves
after Dan Aykroyd.
is a naturalized citizen of the United States. In 1983,
he married actress Donna Dixon, with whom he starred in
the movies Doctor Detroit, Spies Like Us, and The Couch
Trip. They have three daughters: Danielle Alexandra (born
November 18, 1989), Belle Kingston (born June 9, 1993),
and Stella Irene August (born April 5, 1998). He maintains
his Canadian roots as a longtime resident of Sydenham,
Ontario, with his estate on Loughborough Lake.
described himself (in a radio interview with Terry Gross)
as having mild Tourette syndrome that was successfully
treated with therapy when he was a preteen, as well as
mild Asperger syndrome.
of 2006, Aykroyd has entered a partnership with Niagara
Cellars, which owns four wineries in the Niagara region.
They will be marketing a series of red and white wines
under his name. He spent a good amount of time in 2009
promoting his own Crystal Head Vodka, with his interest
in the paranormal coming through with the drink's unique
skull-shaped bottle. He is also considering a beer and
vodka label with the Coneheads name.
is a former reserve commander for the police department
in Harahan, Louisiana, working for Chief of Police Peter
Dale. Aykroyd would carry his badge with him at all times.
helped Dale start the Blue Line Foundation. They are redeveloping
flood damaged lots in New Orleans and helping first responders
buy them at reduced prices. Coastal Blue Line LLC, hopes
to eventually to rebuild 400 properties in New Orleans.
a recent radio interview with the Hill-Man Morning show,
Aykroyd said if he could forget one film he did, it would
be Exit to Eden.
considers himself a Spiritualist, stating that:
I am a Spiritualist, a proud wearer of the Spiritualist
badge. Mediums and psychic research have gone on for many,
many years... Loads of people have seen [spirits], heard
a voice or felt the cold temperature. I believe that they
are between here and there, that they exist between the
fourth and fifth dimension, and that they visit us frequently.
great-grandfather, a dentist, had been a mystic who had
corresponded with author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle on the
subject of Spiritualism, and who was a member of the Lily
than Spiritualism, Aykroyd is also interested in various
other aspects of the paranormal, particularly ufology.
He is a lifetime member of and official Hollywood consultant
for the Mutual
UFO Network. He also claims to have personally
witnessed a UFO while at Martha's Vineyard. In 2005, Aykroyd
produced a DVD titled, Dan Aykroyd:
Unplugged on UFOs. In it, he is interviewed
for 80 minutes by UFOlogist David Sereda where he discusses
in depth every aspect of the UFO phenomenon, and reveals
specifically that they are blue, not green, but appear
that way because of a filter.
September 29, 2009, Peter Aykroyd, father of Dan Aykroyd,
published a book entitled A History
of Ghosts. This book chronicled the family's
historical involvement in the Spiritualist Movement, to
which Aykroyd readily refers. Aykroyd wrote the introduction
and accompanied his father on a series of promotional
activities, including launches in New York City and Toronto,
an appearance on Larry King Live and various other public
relations initiatives. Aykroyd also read the introduction
for the audio version of the book.