Today we lose a comedy legend, Harold Ramis, who passed away this morning at the age of 69 due to a rare autoimmune disease. Many may familiarize Harold Ramis as Egon Spengler from 1984’s Ghostbusters, but he was also a husband, father, and mentor. Ramis’ work can also be recognized behind the camera as a writer and director for films such as Analyze This, Groundhog Day, Meatballs, Caddyshack, Stripes, National Lampoon’s Vacation and Animal House. He was an incredible filmmaker with a keen eye for comedy who got his start as a Second City performer; his work will live through the ages.
It is with great sadness that I have to share this news with you this morning; as an 80s baby I will always appreciate all that he has done for cinema. My first encounter of Ramis was as an actor in Ghostbusters. My inner child is basically devastated. I would later encounter him in movies such as Stripes, As Good as It Gets, Orange County, and Knocked Up. As I grew older I learned to recognize the people who made my favorite movies possible, those who wrote and directed film.
Ramis’ first feature film as a writer was Animal House (1978) and it’s not hard to believe his writing did not go unnoticed. From there he went on to write Meatballs (1979), Caddyshack (1980), Stripes (1981), Ghostbusters (1984), the screenplays for Groundhog Day (1993) and Analyze This (1999), and most recently Year One (2009). As a director, Ramis can be held accountable for some of the finest comedies that will be talked about and analyzed for many years to come, which includes Caddyshack, National Lampoon’s Vacation (1983), Groundhog Day, Multiplicity (1996), Analyze This, and Bedazzled (2000).
Due to complications of autoimmune inflammatory vasculitis, a rare disease that involves swelling of the blood vessels, Ramis passed away earlier this morning at 12:53 a.m surrounded by his family. According to his wife Erica, his health issues began in May 2010 with an infection that led to complications to this disease. Ramis recently was graced with an honorary Doctorate of Arts from Columbia College Chicago in 2001 and a lifetime achievement award from the Just for Laughs festival in 2009.
Throughout the years, those close to him in the industry spoke highly about him to the Chicago Tribune.
“When I was 15, I interviewed Harold for my high school radio station, and he was the person that I wanted to be when I was growing up. His work is the reason why so many of us got into comedy. We grew up on ‘Second City TV’ and ‘Ghostbusters,’ ‘Vacation,’ ‘Animal House,’ ‘Stripes,’ ‘Meatballs’ (which Ramis co-wrote); he literally made every single one of our favorite movies.” – Judd Apatow (Knocked Up; This is 40; Freaks and Geeks)
“He’s the least changed by success of anyone I know in terms of sense of humor, of humility, sense of self. He’s the same Harold he was 30 years ago. He’s had enormous success relatively, but none of it has gone to his head in any way.” – Bernie Sahlins (Second City founder)
“He just did it for me. He loved teaching people. He loved helping people. He loved seeing people succeed.” – Laurel Ward, vice president of development for Ramis’ Ocean Pictures production company
“I always thought he was a very talented writer who always had a very perceptive and intelligent point of view about the material. He managed to get the people to speak in a realistic way but still found something funny in their voices.” – Ivan Reitman (Director: Ghostbusters; Stripes; Meatballs)
He is survived by his wife Erica Mann Ramis, his daughter Violet Stiel, sons Julian and Daniel Ramis and two grandchildren. Erica Ramis said a private service is planned for this week with a public memorial in Chicago to take place probably in May.
Source: Chicago Tribune