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Dan Aykroyd

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Birth name  Daniel Edward Aykroyd
Spouse  Donna Dixon (m. 1983)
Role  Actor

Name  Dan Aykroyd
Years active  1968–present
Music group  The Blues Brothers
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Born  July 1, 1952 (age 63) Ottawa, Ontario, Canada (1952-07-01)
Medium  Film, television, stage
Genres  Sketch comedy, improvisational, musical comedy
Notable works and roles  Original "Not Ready For Prime Time Player" on SNL Elwood Blues in The Blues Brothers Ray Stantz in Ghostbusters
Parents  Samuel Peter Aykroyd, Lorraine Helene Aykroyd
Children  Danielle Aykroyd, Stella Irene August Aykroyd, Belle Kingston Aykroyd
Movies and TV shows  Ghostbusters, Saturday Night Live, The Blues Brothers, Trading Places, Nothing but Trouble
Similar People  Bill Murray, John Belushi, Harold Ramis, Donna Dixon, Chevy Chase

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Daniel Edward Aykroyd (born July 1, 1952) is a Canadian-American actor, comedian, producer, screenwriter, musician and businessman. He was an original member of the "Not Ready for Prime Time Players" on Saturday Night Live (1975–1979). A musical sketch he performed with John Belushi on SNL, The Blues Brothers, turned into an actual performing band and then a highly successful 1980 film, also called The Blues Brothers.

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Dan Aykroyd Dan Aykroyd Net Worth biography quotes wiki assets

He conceived and starred in Ghostbusters (1984), which spawned a sequel (Ghostbusters II) and eventually an entire media franchise. In 1990, he was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his work in the 1989 film Driving Miss Daisy. He starred in his own sitcom, Soul Man, from 1997–98. Aykroyd is also a successful businessman, having co-founded the House of Blues chain of music venues and the Crystal Head Vodka brand.

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Dan aykroyd talks mental health and acting


Early life

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Aykroyd was born on Canada Day (July 1), 1952 at The Ottawa Hospital in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. He grew up in Ottawa, Canada's 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 Hélène (née Gougeon), was a secretary. His mother was of French Canadian descent and his father of English, Irish, Scottish, Dutch and French ancestry. His brother, Peter, is also an actor.

Dan Aykroyd Ghostbusters star Dan Aykroyd rushed to hospital with stomach pain

Aykroyd was born with syndactyly, or webbed toes, which was revealed in the film Mr. Mike's Mondo Video and in a short film on Saturday Night Live titled "Don't Look Back In Anger." Aykroyd was raised in the Catholic Church, and until age 17 he intended to become a priest. He attended St. Pius X and St. Patrick's high schools, and studied 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.

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Aykroyd developed his musical career in Ottawa, particularly through his regular attendances at Le Hibou, a club that featured many blues artists. He describes these influences as follows:

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...there was a little disco 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 schools—these people were interested in blues culture.

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Aykroyd's first professional experience, which he gained at the age of 17, was as a member of the cast of the short-lived Canadian sketch comedy series The Hart and Lorne Terrific Hour with Lorne Michaels, among others. He was a member of the Second City comedy troupe in 1973 in both Toronto and Chicago.

Saturday Night Live

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Aykroyd gained fame on the American late-night comedy show Saturday Night Live. He was originally hired, and paid $278 a week, as a writer for the show, but became a part of the cast before the series premiered. The original cast was referred to on the show as "The Not Ready For Prime Time Players". Aykroyd was the youngest member of the cast, and appeared on the show for its first four seasons, from 1975–79. He brought a unique sensibility to the show, combining youth, unusual interests, talent as an impersonator and an almost lunatic intensity. Guest host Eric Idle, of Monty Python, 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, Vincent Price, Richard Nixon, Rod Serling, Tom Snyder, Julia Child, and others. He was also known for his recurring roles, such as Beldar, father of the Coneheads family; with Steve Martin, Yortuk 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 one 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 T.V. commercial in which a garish, hyper-pitchman 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." 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 SNL; he later received two more nominations for writing and one for acting. In Rolling Stone's February 2015 appraisal of all 141 SNL cast members to date, Aykroyd was ranked fifth (behind Belushi, Eddie Murphy, Tina Fey, and Mike Myers). "Of all the original [SNL] greats, Aykroyd is the least imitated", they wrote, "because nobody else can do what he did."

In later decades, Aykroyd made occasional guest appearances and unannounced cameos on SNL, often impersonating the American politician Bob Dole. He would also bring back past characters including Irwin Mainway and Leonard Pinth-Garnell.

During some guest appearances he resurrected The Blues Brothers musical act with frequent host John Goodman in place of Belushi. He became the second member of the original cast to host SNL in May 2003 when he appeared in the season finale. During his monologue, he performed a musical number with James Belushi similar to the Blues Brothers, but neither Aykroyd nor Belushi donned the famous black suit and sunglasses. On March 24, 2007, Aykroyd appeared as a crying fan of American Idol finalist Sanjaya Malakar (played by Andy Samberg) during Weekend Update. On February 14, 2009, he appeared as U.S. House Minority leader John Boehner. Aykroyd also made a surprise guest appearance, along with many other SNL alumni, on the show of March 9, 2013.

The Blues Brothers

Aykroyd was a close friend of John Belushi. According to Aykroyd, it was their first meeting that helped spark the popular Blues Brothers act. When they met in a club Aykroyd frequented, he played a blues record 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 Belushi 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 an SNL novelty. Taking off with the public as a legitimate musical act, they performed live gigs and in 1978 released the hit album Briefcase Full of Blues (drawn from the fact that Aykroyd, as "Elwood Blues", carried his blues harmonicas in a briefcase that he kept handcuffed to his wrist, in the manner of a CIA courier; Belushi originally carried the key to those handcuffs). Briefcase Full of Blues eventually sold 3.5 million copies, and is one of the highest-selling blues albums of all time. The band was much further popularized in the 1980 film The Blues Brothers, which Aykroyd co-wrote.

Early in the incarnation of the Blues Brothers, 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, New Jersey that coincided with the Dead's appearance on SNL that weekend. Belushi sang the part usually carried by the late band member Ron "Pigpen" McKernan.

Cherokee Studios in Los Angeles was a regular haunt for the original Blues Brothers in the early days of the band. Belushi and 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 comedians/musicians, including Belushi's favorite band, Fear, and later Aykroyd's movie Dragnet.

The Blues Brothers Band continues to tour today, both with and without Aykroyd. The band features original members Cropper and Marini, along with vocalist Eddie Floyd. Aykroyd sometimes performs as Elwood, along with Belushi's younger brother Jim Belushi, who plays "Brother Zee" on stage. They are most frequently backed by The Sacred Hearts Band.

Other film and television 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 films, mostly comedies, with uneven results both commercially and artistically. His first three American feature films all co-starred Belushi. The first, 1941 (1979), directed by Steven Spielberg, was a box office disappointment. The second, The Blues Brothers (1980), which he co-wrote with director John Landis, was a massive hit. The third, Neighbors (1981) had mixed critical reaction but was another box-office hit. One of his best-received performances was as a blueblood-turned-wretch in the 1983 comedy Trading Places, in which he co-starred with fellow SNL alumnus Eddie Murphy as well as Jamie Lee Curtis.

In the early 1980s, Aykroyd began work on a script for the film that eventually became Ghostbusters, inspired by his fascination with parapsychology. The script initially included a much greater fantasy element, including time travel, but this was toned down substantially through work on the script with Harold Ramis (who became a co-writer) and director Ivan Reitman. Aykroyd originally wrote the role of Dr. Peter Venkman with Belushi in mind, but rewrote it for Bill Murray after Belushi's death. Aykroyd joked that the green ghost, later known as "Slimer", was "the ghost of John Belushi" and was based on Belushi's party animal personality. Ghostbusters was released in 1984 and became a huge success for Aykroyd, who also appeared as one of the lead actors; the film earned nearly US$300 million on a US$30 million budget.

Aykroyd's next major film role was in the 1985 spy comedy film Spies Like Us, which like The Blues Brothers was co-conceived and co-written by Aykroyd, and directed by Landis. Aykroyd had again intended for Belushi to be the other lead in the film; the part was instead given to SNL alumnus Chevy Chase. The film was intended as an homage to the Bob Hope/Bing Crosby "Road to ..." movies of the 1940s to 1960s. Bob Hope made a cameo appearance in the film.

1987 saw the release of Dragnet, which Aykroyd co-starred in (with Tom Hanks) and co-wrote. The film was both an homage and a satire of the previous Dragnet series, with Aykroyd playing Sgt. Joe Friday as a police officer whose law-and-order attitude is at odds with modern sensibilities.

Aykroyd appeared in five films released in 1988, all of them critical and commercial failures. A sequel to Ghostbusters, Ghostbusters II, was released in 1989; Aykroyd and the other co-creators were reluctant to make another Ghostbusters film but succumbed to pressure from the film's studio, Columbia Pictures. The film, while considered inferior to the original, was another big hit, earning US$215 million. Aykroyd 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.

Aykroyd's directorial debut was 1991's Nothing but Trouble starring Demi Moore, Chevy Chase, John Candy and Aykroyd, sporting a bulbous prosthetic nose. The film was a critical and box office flop. Aykroyd's other films in the 1990s were mostly similarly poorly-received, including Coneheads (also based on a Saturday Night Live skit), Exit to Eden, Blues Brothers 2000, and Getting Away with Murder, all of which were poorly received except for Tommy Boy (1995), which starred SNL alumni David Spade and Chris Farley, in which Aykroyd played the role of Ray Zalinsky, and Grosse Pointe Blank (1997), in which Aykroyd had a well-received role as a rival hit man.

In 1994, Aykroyd made a guest appearance in an episode of the sitcom The Nanny as a refrigerator repairman. In 1997, he starred as an Episcopal priest in the ABC sitcom Soul Man which lasted two seasons. In 1998, Aykroyd voiced the role of Chip, a Wasp in Antz. In 2001, he starred in the Woody Allen film The Curse of the Jade Scorpion. Most of his film roles since then 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 2009, Aykroyd and Ramis wrote and appeared in Ghostbusters: The Video Game, which also featured Bill Murray, Ernie Hudson, Annie Potts, William Atherton, and Brian Doyle-Murray. In 2010, he played the voice of the title character, Yogi Bear, in the live-action/CGI-animated-film Yogi Bear. That same year, Aykroyd and Chevy Chase guest starred in the Family Guy episode "Spies Reminiscent of Us", an homage to Spies Like Us.

Aykroyd appeared in two February 2011 episodes of CBS's The Defenders, which starred Jim Belushi. He also appeared on Top Chef Canada as a guest judge.

In 2013, Aykroyd voiced the role of Scarecrow in Legends of Oz: Dorothy's Return. In 2015, he appeared in a State Farm insurance commercial along with Jane Curtin, as the Coneheads, talking to "Jake", a State Farm agent.

Aykroyd was one of the executive producers of Ghostbusters, a long-discussed reboot of the Ghostbusters franchise, which was released in 2016. Aykroyd had a cameo appearance in the film, along with many of the rest of the original Ghostbusters cast.

Other musical endeavors

Aykroyd participated in the recording of "We Are the World" in 1985, as a member of the chorus. He wrote the liner notes for fellow Ottawa-born blues musician JW-Jones' album Bluelisted in 2008. He hosts the nationally, now internationally as well, syndicated radio show "Elwood's BluesMobile", formerly known as House of Blues Radio Hour, under his Blues Brothers moniker Elwood Blues.

Business ventures

In 1992, Aykroyd and Hard Rock Cafe co-founder Isaac Tigrett founded the House of Blues, a chain of music venues, with the mission to promote African-American cultural contributions of blues music and folk art.

Many other music and Hollywood personalities helped to finance it at its start. It began as a single location in Cambridge, Massachusetts, although other locations quickly followed, starting with a venue in New Orleans in 1994. In 2004 House of Blues became the second-largest live music promoter in the world, with seven venues and 22 amphitheaters in the United States and Canada. It was bought by Live Nation in 2006.

In 2007, Aykroyd and artist John Alexander founded Crystal Head Vodka, a brand of high-end vodka known for its distinctive skull-shaped bottle and for being filtered through Herkimer diamond crystals.

Aykroyd is also part owner of several wineries in Canada's Niagara Peninsula as well as the company that distributes Patrón tequila in Canada.

Charitable works

In 2009, Aykroyd contributed a series of reminiscences on his upbringing in Canada for a charity album titled Dan Aykroyd's Canada. He helped start the Blue Line Foundation, which is redeveloping flood-damaged lots in New Orleans and helping first responders buy them at reduced prices. Coastal Blue Line LLC, hopes to eventually rebuild 400 properties in New Orleans.

Personal life

Aykroyd was briefly engaged to Star Wars actress Carrie Fisher. He proposed to her on the set of The Blues Brothers (1980), in which she appeared as a spurned girlfriend of John Belushi's Jake Blues who was trying to kill both brothers. The engagement ended when she reconciled with her former boyfriend, musician Paul Simon. In 1983, he married actress Donna Dixon, with whom he starred in the movies Doctor Detroit (1983), on whose set they first met; Spies Like Us (1985); and The Couch Trip (1988).

They have three daughters, Danielle, Stella and Belle. He maintains his Canadian roots as a longtime resident of Sydenham, Ontario, with his estate on Loughborough Lake, thought to be his summer home.

Aykroyd described in a 2004 NPR interview with host Terry Gross as having been diagnosed in childhood with Tourette syndrome (TS) as well as Asperger syndrome (AS). He stated that his TS was successfully treated with therapy. He described additional details about his conditions in a 2013 DailyMail.com interview when he stated that "I was diagnosed with Tourette's at 12. I had physical tics, nervousness and made grunting noises and it affected how outgoing I was. I had therapy which really worked and by 14 my symptoms eased. I also have Asperger's but I can manage it. It wasn’t diagnosed until the early Eighties when my wife persuaded me to see a doctor."

In 2015, he stated during a HuffPost Show interview with hosts Roy Sekoff and Marc Lamont Hill that his AS was "never diagnosed" but was "sort of a self-diagnosis" based on several of his own characteristics.

He 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.

He currently serves as a Reserve Deputy of the Hinds County Sheriff's Department in Hinds County, Mississippi. He supports the Reserves with a fundraiser concert along with other Blues and Gospel singers in the State of Mississippi.

Friendship with John Belushi

In an appearance on the Today show, Aykroyd referred to himself and John Belushi as "kindred spirits." In the biography "Belushi", Aykroyd claims that Belushi was the only man he could ever dance with. 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."

Aykroyd was openly hostile to the 1989 film Wired, a biopic of Belushi (which featured Aykroyd as a character played by actor Gary Groomes), and has since refused to work with anyone involved in the film. He had actor J. T. Walsh fired from the film Loose Cannons after Walsh had already done two days of filming, after finding out that Walsh had been in the cast of Wired.

Beliefs

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.

Aykroyd's great-grandfather, a dentist, was a mystic who corresponded with author 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 Hollywood consultant for the Mutual UFO Network. Along these lines, he served, from 1996 to 2000, as "host" of Psi Factor: Chronicles of the Paranormal, which claimed to describe cases drawn from the archives of "The Office Of Scientific Investigation And Research." In 2005, Aykroyd produced the DVD Dan Aykroyd: Unplugged on UFOs.

Aykroyd is interviewed for 80 minutes by UFOlogist David Sereda discussing in depth many aspects of the UFO phenomenon.

On September 29, 2009, Peter Aykroyd Sr., Dan's father, 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 and Toronto, appearances on Larry King Live, Coast to Coast AM and various other public relations initiatives. Aykroyd also read the introduction for the audio version of the book. In 1997, the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry(CSICOP) awarded Aykroyd "in absentia the Snuffed Candle Award for hosting Psi Factor and being a "long-time promoter ... of paranormal claims" Following the awards, Joe Nickell wrote to Aykroyd asking for the research behind the "cases" presented on Psi Factor. Particularly a claim that NASA scientists were "killed while investigating a meteor crash and giant eggs were found and incubated, yielding a flea the size of a hog".

Accolades

In 1977, Aykroyd received an Emmy Award for Outstanding Writing in a Comedy-Variety or Music Series for his collaborative work on Saturday Night Live. In 1994, he received an honorary Doctor of Literature degree from Carleton University. In 1999, Aykroyd was made a Member of the Order of Canada. He was inducted into Canada's Walk of Fame in 2002.

References

Dan Aykroyd Wikipedia


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