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Canadian History for Kids: Dan Aykroyd

June 8, 1984 – Ottawa actor Dan Aykroyd stars in Ghostbusters.

This Canadian History for Kids exclusive looks Canadian funny man Dan Ackroyd.

Who you gonna call? Ghostbusters!

Ghostbusters was released on June 8, 1984 to critical and commercial success, and became an instant cult classic. The comedy movie was directed and produced by Ivan Reitman and written by Canadian Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis. The movie centered around its three stars, Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis and Bill Murry as parapsychologists in New Year who run a paranormal investigation and ghost catching business. The movie also starred Sigourney Weaver and Rick Moranis.

Dan Aykroyd, himself very interested in the paranomal, came up with the original concept. A much different concept than what was the final movie. With some urging from Ivan Reitmann and help from Harold Ramis, the story was revamped and a final screenplay completed after the two had been closeted for three weeks. Originally Aykroyd and Ramis had intended to have John Belushi, Eddit Murphy and John Candy star in the leading roles, but John Belushi died before the screenplay was completed and the other two could not commit to the movie. The movie has also gone on to include sequels, a television cartoon series, and a video game.

The theme song, Ghostbusters, written and performed by Ray Parker Jr., was a huge success, staying at number one on the Billboard Hit Charts for three weeks. It also was nominated for Best Original Song at the Academy Awards, and the movie was nominated for Best Visual Effects.

Dan Aykroyd was born on July 1, 1952 in Ottawa, Ontario. He began his comedic carreer at the age of 17 on the comedy series The Hart and Lorne Terrific House with Lorne Michaels. He also worked as a comedian in nightblubs and ran Club 505 in Toronto. He was a member of the Second City comedy group in 1973 both in Toronto and Chicago. He was a writer and one of the original cast member with Saturday Night Live (SNL) from 1975 to 1979. He had such well known roles as Beldar, the father of the Coneheads, and Georg Festrunch, one of the Two Wild and Crazy Guys, along side Steve Martin. In 1977, he won an Emmy for his writing on SNL.

In the later part of the 1970’s he created The Blues Brothers Band with John Belushi, which developed into a movie in 1980.

After SNL, he went on to act in a number of comedies including Trading Places in 1983, The Curse of the Jade Scorpion and the drama, Driving Miss Daisy, which he was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor.

While he resides in the States, he maintains his Canadian citizenship and his estate on Loughborough Lake, with his wife and three daughters. He is also part owner of several wineries in the Niagara region.

He was inducted into Canada’s Walk of Fame, and in 1998, he became a Member of the Order of Canada.

And that’s this week’s Canadian History for Kids, exclusive!

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