One of the most vibrant comic personalities of the 1970s and '80s, as well as a noted actor and screenwriter, Dan Aykroyd got his professional start in his native Canada. Before working as a standup comedian in various Canadian nightclubs, Aykroyd studied at a Catholic seminary from which he was later expelled. He then worked as a train brakeman, a surveyor, and studied Sociology at Carleton University in Ottawa, where he began writing and performing comedy sketches. His success as a comic in school led him to work with the Toronto branch of the famed Second City improvisational troupe.
During this time -- while he was also managing the hot nightspot Club 505 on the side -- Aykroyd met comedian and writer John Belushi
, who had come to Toronto to scout new talent for "The National Lampoon Radio
Hour." In 1975, both Aykroyd and Belushi
were chosen to appear in the first season of Canadian producer Lorne Michaels
' innovative comedy television series Saturday Night Live
. It was as part of the show that Aykroyd gained notoriety for his dead-on impersonations of presidents Richard Nixon
and Jimmy Carter
. He also won fame for his other characters, such as Beldar, the patriarch of the Conehead clan of suburban aliens, and Elwood, the second half of the Blues Brothers (Jake Blues was played by Belushi
Aykroyd made his feature-film debut in 1977 in the Canadian comedy Love at First Sight, but neither it nor his subsequent film, Mr. Mike's Mondo Video
, were successful. His first major...