Rebecca Tyrrel: Dan Aykroyd believes that aliens visit us because 'they don't dance like Mick Jagger'

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The Independent Online

Who knew that Dan Aykroyd, writer and star of Ghostbusters, has webbed toes? Who ya gonna call if you're born with two toes fused together by shared tissue? No one, that's who.

Aykroyd is not afraid of syndactyly, to use the medical term, and was so unembarrassed by his oddity that he used it as a comic prop in a film. Sadly, the scene failed to save 1979's Mr Mike's Mondo Video. What a shame someone clearly forgot to insert 'Straight To' between the last two words of the title.

These days, Aykroyd is more active as a distiller than an actor, and recently won two gold medals at the 'spirit oscars' for his own vodka, Crystal Head, which comes in a skull-shaped bottle. This venture is believed to be less in tribute to the memory of fellow syndactylyst Josef Stalin, who preferred red wine from his native Georgia, than a life-long fondness for the drink. At 14, he spent a night in a jail after being caught drinking vodka in a farmer's field, and was later asked to leave his seminary on the grounds that he was too confused about the meaning of the 'holy spirit' to be a terrifically strong candidate for the priesthood.

Expulsion by these monkish brothers appears not to have given Aykroyd the blues. He traded places (I promise that is the last bad film pun), swapping the life of a Catholic student for a secular university. But he has never lost his faith in powers beyond this mortal coil, firmly believing not only in the afterlife but extra-terrestrial visitations.

He is currently the 'Hollywood consultant' for Mufon (Mutual UFO network), believing that aliens visit us regularly because "this is the planet that produced Picasso, the atom bomb, penicillin... They [the aliens] didn't paint like Renoir, they don't dance like Mick Jagger..."

Given the banquet of his own disorders, criticising an alien for not being able to dance like Mick Jagger seems a bit rich. Apart from syndactyly, Aykroyd suffered from a mild case of Tourettes when he was a child, and at the bidding of his wife was much later diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome. He was also born with heterochromia, which means that his eyes are entirely different colours (one green, one brown). That he shares with Michael Flatley. What a shame it wasn't the webbed toes – it might have saved us all from the River Dancing.