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Daniel Edward "Dan" Aykroyd, CM (born July 1, 1952) is an Academy Award-nominated and Emmy Award-winning Canadian-American comedian, actor, screenwriter, musician, winemaker and ufologist. 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 and screenwriter.

Early life

Aykroyd was born on July 1, 1952 at the Ottawa General Hospitalmarker in Ottawamarker, Ontariomarker, Canadamarker. He grew up in the Canadian capital where his father, Samuel Cuthbert Peter Hugh Aykroyd, a civil engineer, worked as a policy adviser to Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau. His mother, Lorraine (née Gougeon), is a secretary of French Canadian origin, and 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.

Aykroyd's great-grandfather, a dentist, had been a mystic and had been involved in Spiritualism, which Aykroyd would have a great interest in, stating that "all that stuff was hanging around the old farmhouse I grew up in, so I was kind of steeped in it".

Aykroyd was raised in the Roman Catholic Church and had intended to become a priest until the age of seventeen. He attended St Pius Xmarker and St Patrick'smarker, where he was briefly expelled from the latter: he dressed up a pig to look like the pope and brought it to school for show and tell. He went on to study criminology and sociology at Carleton Universitymarker but dropped out before completing. He worked as a comedian in various Canadian nightclubs and ran an after-hours speakeasy (Club 505) in Toronto for several years.

Aykroyd's 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 as follows:

...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. 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 Universitymarker, Carletonmarker, and all the schools—these people were interested in blues culture.

Saturday Night Live

Aykroyd gained fame on the American late-night comedy show Saturday Night Live, where he was a writer and 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.

He was known for his impersonations of celebrities like Jimmy Carter, Richard Nixon, 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" Czechmarker 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.

Aykroyd's 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 commercial in which a garish, hyper pitchman (modeled 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." [Hill and Weingrad p. 143]

While 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 won each for acting and Outstanding Comedy-Variety series.

In later decades, Aykroyd made occasional guest appearances and unannounced cameo 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 Jim 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.

The Blues Brothers

Aykroyd 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 metal. 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.

Backed 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 a 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, Rubin, and Dunn, along with vocalist Eddie Floyd.

Cherokee Studios in Los Angelesmarker 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 and legendary guitar player 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 favorite band Fear and later Aykroyd's movie "Dragnet."

Aykroyd 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.

In 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 Statesmarker and Canadamarker. 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.

Today, The Blues Brothers still tour. Dan Aykroyd still performs as Elwood back with John's little brother James Belushi who plays "Brother Zee" on stage. They are almost always backed by The Sacred Hearts.

Other work

Concurrent 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.

After leaving Saturday Night Live, Aykroyd starred in a number of mainly comedy films, with uneven results both commercially and artistically. When starting out in the film industry Aykroyd would star with his old friend 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 manic).

Aykroyd originally wrote the role of Dr. Peter Venkman in Ghostbusters (1984) with John Belushi in mind, but rewrote the part for another famous SNL player, Bill Murray, after Belushi died. Aykroyd used to joke that the green ghoul (who would later come to be known as "Slimer" in the animated series and was credited as such in the second film) 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.

Aykroyd participated in the recording of "We are the World" in 1985.

Aykroyd was nominated for an Academy Award as Best Supporting Actor for 1989's Driving Miss Daisy.

His directorial debut was 1991's Nothing but Trouble. It starred Demi Moore, Chevy Chase, John Candy and Aykroyd himself, sporting an oddly phallic prosthetic nose. The film was a critical and box office flop. Other efforts in the 1990s, including Exit To Eden, Blues Brothers 2000, and Getting Away with Murder, were also poorly received. He also made an uncredited appearance in the Michael Moore film, Canadian Bacon as a motorcycle cop.

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.

In February 2007 Aykroyd revealed that he would be providing voice-acting for a Ghostbusters III CGI project, although he stated that it would not happen until next year. He also, 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.

It was John Belushi who discovered the band Fear and brought them to Cherokee Studios to record songs for the soundtrack of Neighbors, a film he and Aykroyd were starring in. Music producing partners Steve Cropper and Bruce Robb remember recording the band's music, but nobody knows exactly what happened with the final soundtrack, which was ultimately replaced in the film by a traditional movie score.

On the 2008 release of fellow Ottawa born blues musician JW-Jones' album Bluelisted, Aykroyd wrote the liner notes.

In 2009, Aykroyd contributed a series of reminiscences on his upbringing in Canada for a charity album titled "Dan Aykroyd's Canada".

On June 14, 2009, GameStop called people who pre-ordered Ghostbusters: The Video game using Akyroyd's voice telling them to come to the launch event at 10pm.

Most recently, Dan Aykroyd and Chevy Chase guest starred in the Family Guy episode Spies Reminiscent of Us.


He has been inducted into Canada's Walk of Famemarker. 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.

Aykroyd 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.

The popular Scottish band Dananananaykroyd named themselves after Dan Aykroyd

Personal life

Aykroyd is a Naturalized citizen of the United States. In 1983, he married actress Donna Dixon, with whom he starred in the movies Spies Like Us, Doctor Detroit, 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, Ontariomarker, with his estate on Loughborough Lakemarker.

Aykroyd 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. The diagnosis of Asperger syndrome was not standardized as a diagnosis in the 1960s, when Aykroyd was a preteen. It is unclear if Aykroyd received the diagnoses of TS or AS from a medical source, whether he was speaking in his role as a comic, or whether the diagnoses were self-made. It was an audio interview, so the audience could not see Aykroyd's facial expressions, but the interviewer indicated uncertainty about whether Aykroyd was kidding (which he denied).

As 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.

He is a Reserve Commander for the Police Department in Harahan, Louisianamarker, working for Chief of Police Peter Dale. Aykroyd carries his badge with him at all times.

Aykroyd 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.

In 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".


Aykroyd 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.

His great-grandfather, a dentist, had been a mystic who had corresponded with Sir Arthur Conan Doyle on the subject of Spiritualism, and who was a member of the Lily Dale Society.

Other than Spiritualism, Aykroyd is also interested in various other aspects of the paranormal, particularly ufology. He is a lifetime member of and official Hollywoodmarker consultant for the Mutual UFO Network. 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.

On 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.



Year Film Role Notes
1974 The Gift of Winter Goodly, Rotten, Maple TV film, voice only
1977 Love at First Sight Roy
1979 Mr. Mike's Mondo Video Jack Lord Priest
1941 Sgt. Frank Tree
1980 The Blues Brothers Elwood Blues Also writer
1981 Neighbors Vic
1982 It Came from Hollywood Himself
1983 Doctor Detroit Clifford Skridlow/ Doctor Detroit
Trading Places Louis Winthorpe III
Twilight Zone: The Movie Passenger/ Ambulance Driver
1984 Ghostbusters Dr. Raymond Stantz Also writer
Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom Weber Cameo
Nothing Lasts Forever Buck Heller
1985 Into the Night Herb
Spies Like Us Austin Millbarge Also writer
1987 Dragnet Sgt. Joe Friday Also writer
1988 Caddyshack II Capt. Tom Everett 1989 Razzie Award for Worst Supporting Actor
The Couch Trip John W. Burns, Jr.
The Great Outdoors Roman Craig
She's Having A Baby Roman Craig Cameo
My Stepmother Is An Alien Steven Mills
1989 Driving Miss Daisy Boolie Werthan Nominated 1989 Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor
Ghostbusters II Dr. Raymond Stantz Also writer
1990 Loose Cannons Ellis Fielding
Masters of Menace Johnny Lewis
1991 My Girl Harry Sultenfuss
Nothing But Trouble Judge Alvin Valkenheiser/ Bobo Also director and writer
1992 Razzie Award for Worst Supporting Actor
Nominated 1992 Razzie Award for Worst Director
Nominated 1992 Razzie Award for Worst Screenplay (with Peter Aykroyd)

1992 Chaplin Mack Sennett
Sneakers Mother
This Is My Life Arnold Moss
1993 Coneheads Beldar Conehead Also writer
1994 A Century of Cinema Himself Documentary
Exit to Eden Fred Lavery Nominated 1995 Razzie Award for Worst Screen Couple
Nominated Razzie Award for Worst Supporting Actor (also for North)
My Girl 2 Harry Sultenfuss
North Pa Tex Nominated 1995 Razzie Award for Worst Supporting Actor (also for Exit to Eden)
1995 Canadian Bacon OPP Officer
Casper Dr. Raymond Stantz Cameo
Rainbow Sheriff Wyatt Hampton
The Random Factor Dexter Voice only
Tommy Boy Zalinsky
1996 Celtic Pride Jimmy Flaherty
Feeling Minnesota Det. Ben Costikyan
My Fellow Americans President William Haney
Getting Away with Murder Jack Lambert
Sgt. Bilko Colonel John T. Hall
1997 Grosse Pointe Blank Grocer
1998 Antz Chip Voice only
Blues Brothers 2000 Elwood Blues Also writer and producer
Susan's Plan Bob
1999 Diamonds Lance Agensky
2000 The House of Mirth Gus
Loser Dad
Stardom Barry Levine
2001 The Curse of the Jade Scorpion Chris Magruder
Evolution Governor Lewis
The Frank Truth Himself Documentary
On The Nose Dr. Barry Davis
Pearl Harbor Capt. Thurman
2002 Crossroads Pete Wagner
Unconditional Love Max Beasly
2003 Bright Young Things Lord Monomark
2004 Christmas with the Kranks Vic Frohmeyer
The Devil and Daniel Webster Julius Jenson
50 First Dates Dr. Keats
Intern Academy Dr. Cyrill Kipp
2005 Dan Aykroyd Unplugged on UFOs Himself
2007 I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry Captain Tucker
Let's All Hate Toronto Himself
2008 War Inc. Mr. Vice President
2009 Ghostbusters: The Video Game Dr. Raymond Stantz Video game, Voice only, also writer
2010 Burke and Hare filming
2011 Dorothy of Oz Scarecrow filming


Year Show Role First Episode Notes
1975 Coming Up Rosie Purvis Bickle unknown
1975-1979 Saturday Night Live Various "Episode 1.1" 1977 Emmy for Outstanding Writing in a Music, Comedy, or Variety Series
Nominated 1978 Emmy for Outstanding Performance by a Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series
Nominated 1978 Emmy for Outstanding Writing in a Music, Comedy, or Variety Series
Nominated 1979 Emmy for Outstanding Writing in a Music, Comedy, or Variety Series
Nominated 2007 TV Land Award for Favorite Elvis Impersonation (with John Belushi)

1976 The Beach Boys: It's OK Cop TV Movie, also writer
1978 All You Need Is Cash Brian Thigh TV Movie
1986-1991 The Real Ghostbusters "unknown" Writer of 150 episodes
1990 The Dave Thomas Comedy Show Various "Episode 1.2" 1 episode
It's Garry Shandling's Show Boolie Shandling "Driving Miss Garry" 1 episode
1991 Tales from the Crypt Captain Mulligan "Yellow" 1 episode
1994 The Nanny Repair Man "Sunday in the Park with Fran" 1 episode
1995 Kesley Grammar Salutes Jack Benny Himself TV special
1996-2000 PSI Factor: Chronicles of the Paranormal Host "John Doe" 88 episodes
1997 The Arrow Crawford Gordon TV movie, also creative consultant
Home Improvement Rev. Mike Walker "Losing My Religion" 1 episode
Soul Man Rev. Mike Weber "Grabbed By An Angel" 12 episodes
2001 Earth vs. the Spider Det. Insp. Jack Grillo TV Movie
History's Mysteries Narrator "The Children's Crusade" 1 episode
2002 According to Jim Danny Michalsky "Old Friends" 5 episodes
2009 Family Guy Himself "Spies Reminiscent of Us" 1 episode
X-Play Himself "Quit Givin' Me the Bug Eye, Valkyrie" 1 episode

Guest Appearances on SNL

Date Episode Number Host/ Musical Guest Role
February 13, 1988 13.11 Justine Bateman/ Terrance Trent D'Arby Bob Dole
May 15, 1993 18.20 Kevin Kline/ Willie Nelson and Paul Simon Bob Dole
March 25, 1995 20.16 John Goodman/ The Tragically Hip Bob Dole, Elwood Blues, Irwin Mainway, Tom Snyder, Rush Limbaugh, Robert Stack, miner
February 7, 1998 23.12 John Goodman/ Paula Cole Bob Dole, Elwood Blues, Irwin Mainway, Ernesto
September 26, 1998 24.1 Cameron Diaz/ The Smashing Pumpkins Yortuk Festrunk
November 3, 2001 27.4 John Goodman/ Ja Rule Dr. Keith Vester, Elwood Blues, Leonard Pinth-Garnell
February 2, 2002 27.12 Britney Spears Mormon, Judge Lindenwell
March 8, 2003 28.14 Queen Latifah/ Ms. Dynamite Bob Dole
May 17, 2003 28.20 Himself/ Beyonce Andrew Card, Patrick Fitzpatrick, Donnie "The Finger" Dabinski, biker, Esteban, chief science officer, Butch, Sam Elliot
March 24, 2007 32.16 Peyton Manning/ Carrie Underwood Himself
February 14, 2009 34.16 Alec Baldwin/ The Jonas Brothers John Boehner

Highest Grossing Films

Rank Film Year Gross Budget
1. Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom 1984 $333,107,271 $28,000,000
2. Ghostbusters 1984 $291,600,000 $30,000,000
3. Trading Places 1983 $97,333,523 ???
4. 1941 1979 $92,755,742 $35,000,000
5. Spies Like Us 1985 $70,648,171 $20,000,000
6. The Blues Brothers 1980 $66,216,537 $27,000,000
7. Dragnet 1987 $57,387,516 ???
8. The Great Outdoors 1988 $41,455,230 $24,000,000
9. Twilight Zone: The Movie 1983 $29,500,000 $10,000,000
10. Neighbors 1981 $28,732,057 $8,500,000
11. She's Having A Baby 1988 $16,031,707 ???
12. Caddyshack II 1988 $11,798,302 $20,000,000
13. The Couch Trip 1988 $11,005,304 ???
14. Doctor Detroit 1983 $10,833,499 $3,295,722
15. Into The Night 1985 $6,700,000 ???


Further reading

  • Hill, Doug, and Weingrad, Jeff, Saturday Night: A Backstage History of Saturday Night Live. Vintage Books, 1986. ISBN 0-394-75053-5.

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