Legendary comedic actor and screenwriter Dan Aykroyd was born on July 1, 1952 in Ottawa. His French Canadian mother, Lorraine Gougon Aykroyd, worked as a secretary, and his father, Peter Aykroyd, was a civil engineer who worked as a policy adviser to Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau. He has a younger brother named Peter.
Aykroyd grew up in the Catholic Church in Ottawa, and until the age of seventeen, he was interested in becoming a priest. Outgoing and hyperactive, he was expelled from his strict Catholic seminary school and ended up at Carleton University where he studied psychology, criminal sociology and political science. During college, he was part of the Sock and Buskin Drama Guild, and his focus shifted toward acting and performing.
After graduation, he did stand-up comedy in a number of local clubs and ran a speakeasy called Club 505. Aykroyd also began playing blues music and immersing himself in Ottawa’s blues culture – a time which would later influence the creation of the Blues Brothers. In 1975, Aykroyd became the youngest cast member and writer on the first four seasons of Saturday Night Live.
He was famous for his impersonations of people like Jimmy Carter and Richard Nixon, and for his co-creation of skits like the Coneheads. Aykroyd’s close friendship with fellow cast member John Belushi inspired the creation of the Blues Brothers, which was first a skit, then a legitimate musical act, immortalized in an album and film.
After leaving Saturday Night Live, Aykroyd embarked on a long and successful film career. In 1984, he co-wrote Ghostbusters with Harold Ramis, and it went on to become one of the biggest hits of the decade. In 1989, he became the second former SNL cast member to be nominated for an Oscar when he was recognized for his work in Driving Miss Daisy. He continues to play supporting roles in big films and guest spots on popular television shows.
Aykroyd has three daughters with his wife of over thirty years, actress Donna Dixon. He maintains his Canadian citizenship and owns an estate on Loughborough Lake, in Ontario. He has an avid interest in UFOlogy and Spiritualism, and he has been a member of the Order of Canada since 1998.
With his colorful history and legendary talent, Dan Aykroyd remains one of the most celebrated comedians in Canadian news today.