Dan Aykroyd was born on July 1, 1952, in Ottawa, Canada. He studied at Carleton University and joined the Second City group in Toronto. He was an original Saturday Night Live cast member, wrote the screenplay and starred in The Blues Brothers, and starred in Ghostbusters. He earned an Oscar nomination for his role in Driving Miss Daisy. Aykroyd is married to Donna Dixon and has three children.
Early Life and Career
Born on July 1, 1952, in Ottawa, Canada, actor-comedian Dan Aykroyd is best known for his roles in the films The Blues Brothers and Ghostbusters. Aykroyd began performing in high school, and explored his interest in comedy while attending Carleton University. Dropping out of college, he eventually made his way to Toronto, where he became part of the famed Second City improvisational troupe in 1973.
With Second City, Aykroyd had a chance to work with other rising talents such as John Candy, Bill Murray and Gilda Radner. He also found work on television, appearing on the short-lived Canadian series Coming Up Rosie.
Saturday Night Live
In 1975, Aykroyd helped make television history when he became part of the original cast of the late night-comedy program Saturday Night Live. He delighted audiences with his skilled impersonations of the likes of President Jimmy Carter, talk show host Tom Snyder and TV chef Julia Child. Aykroyd developed several original characters, including "Beldar," the father of an alien family (this character later spurred the development of the spin-off film Coneheads). Aykroyd and fellow SNL cast member Jane Curtain also served as co-hosts for the program's news segment.
Additionally, Aykroyd, working with John Belushi, developed a musical act called "the Blues Brothers," which first appeared on Saturday Night Live. He played Elwood Blues, a harmonica-playing sidekick to his front-man brother, Jake (Belushi). The duo toured together in 1978 and released three albums, but perhaps their greatest success was the 1980 comedy The Blues Brothers, which went on to become a comedy classic. Aykroyd and Belushi made two more movies together, 1941 (1979) and Neighbors, before Belushi's untimely death in 1982.
Later Film and TV Career
After leaving Saturday Night Live in 1979, Aykroyd enjoyed a wave of success as an actor and a screenwriter. He co-starred with Eddie Murphy in the 1983 hit comedy Trading Places. The following year, Aykroyd acted and co-wrote the script for the humorous supernatural blockbuster Ghostbusters. The movie also starred Bill Murray and Harold Ramis, and the trio reprised their roles as ghost-hunting scientists in the 1989 sequel. Aykroyd worked with fellow SNL alum Chevy Chase in 1985's Spies Like Us. In 1989, he took on more serious fare with a supporting role in the drama Driving Miss Daisy; Aykroyd received an Academy Award nomination for his work in the Jessica Tandy-Morgan Freeman film.
Along with all of these hits, Aykroyd also had his share of misses. He co-starred with Tom Hanks in his own take on classic television police show Dragnet (1987), which received mixed reviews. With Coneheads (1993), Aykroyd saw one of his favorite SNL skits fail to perform at the box office. The following year, he appeared in the critical and commercial flop Exit to Eden, alongside Rosie O'Donnell and Dana Delany. In 1998, Aykroyd tried to revive his famous musical act with the disappointing Blues Brothers 2000. Also around this time, he made a short-lived return to TV with a part on the sitcom Soul Man.
Aykroyd fared better when he hosted the non-fiction series PSI Factor: Chronicles of the Paranormal, which aired from 1996 to 2000. A known spiritualist, he was a natural fit for the show. "Like my great-grandfather and father before me, I have always been intrigued by ghosts, magic and demonology; and these kinds of subjects figure prominently in our myths," he told psiberific.com.
These days, Aykroyd acts infrequently. In recent years, he has made appearances on Jim Belushi's legal drama The Defenders and Fran Drescher's sitcom Happily Divorced. On the big screen, he had a supporting role in the political comedy The Campaign (2012), starring Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis.
In 1992, Aykroyd co-founded the House of Blues, a nightclub in Cambridge, Massachusetts, with Isaac Tigrett. This business venture reflects his lifelong interest in music. "Heaven to me is percussion and bass, a screaming guitar and a burbling Hammond B-3 organ," he explained to People magazine. The House of Blues has grown to include venues around the world.
Aykroyd also operates a thriving wine and spirits business. In 2007, he debuted his line of wine in Canada. Also around this time, he helped develop a brand of vodka, Crystal Head, which is sold in skull-shaped bottles.
Aykroyd has been married to actress Donna Dixon since 1983. The pair met while making the 1983 comedic flop Doctor Detroit. They have three children together.
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