Peter Aykroyd, Saturday Night Live co-creator and actor, dies aged 66

Actor has worked with Tom Hanks, Gene Wilder and Mel Brooks over his career in the entertainment industry

Peter Aykroyd, the actor and writer who rose to fame as the co-creator of the comedy series Saturday Night Live, has died aged 66.

His publicist Kathy Thackray said the actor died of cardiac arrest at Los Angeles’ Cedars-Sinai hospital on Saturday, surrounded by family and friends.

Born in London, Aykroyd learned about acting as a teenager through his father’s friend and director John Huston. After enrolling at the drama school Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, Aykroyd made his movie debut in the 1969 film Hot Shots!, alongside stars like Dennis Hopper and Burt Reynolds.

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Playing sarcastic, charismatic commander Captain Eddie Valiant, Aykroyd was nominated for a Golden Globe for his performance. He went on to star in such 1970s and 1980s films as High Sierra and Porky’s, and starred in Aykroyd’s 1966 version of Ben-Hur.

In 1976, Aykroyd’s over-the-top portrayal of Tom Hanks’ Batman created a fan frenzy, and the rest is history. In 1989, Aykroyd starred in the film adaptation of Brooks’ Blazing Saddles, alongside Alan Arkin, Madeline Kahn and Gene Wilder.

He co-wrote and directed The Blues Brothers in 1980, and was the stage presence in the musical Hairspray. For the film, he contributed some of the writing and music as well.

Although most of his career centered around comedy, Aykroyd has also worked in film adaptations of his stage shows, including The Rocky Horror Show and Copacabana. He was awarded the Brit TV Bafta special award for his television comedy work in 1998.

Aside from his job as a writer and actor, Aykroyd also worked in politics, including serving as minister of culture between 1983 and 1985 under Margaret Thatcher.

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