'Ghostbusters' Star and Writer Harold Ramis Has Passed Away at 69
What a terrible start to the week. The Chicago Tribune has reported that writer, director and actor Harold Ramis, best known for playing Egon Spengler in Ghostbusters (not to mention writing the screenplay), has passed away at age 69 due to complications of autoimmune inflammatory vasculitis, a rare disease that involves swelling of the blood vessels. Ramis started his comedy career at Second City in Chicago (not to mention the improv troupe's TV series "SCTV"), where he would become buddies with the late John Belushi, a comedian whose career he helped launch by writing the college comedy classic National Lampoon's Animal House. And that's just the beginning of his legendary influence on comedy. Read on.
While at Second City, Ramis also came into contact with Bill Murray, and would go on to direct him in Caddyshack. Ramis also directed the revered comedy Groundhog Day, undoubtedly one of Murray's best films, and wrote and starred in Stripes. Other writing and directing gigs included the underrated Multiplicity starring Michael Keaton, and the surprising crime comedy double dose of Analyze This and Analyze That with Billy Crystal and Robert De Niro. It was also Ramis who directed National Lampoon's Vacation, which launched a whole series of films starring Chevy Chase and Beverly D'Angelo.
Ramis also shined as a comedian on the big screen. In addition to playing Egon in both Ghostbusters films, the comedian took small roles in some of his own films like Vacation and Groundhog Day. But Ramis also had memorable roles and cameos in comedies like Baby Boom, Knocked Up, Orange County, Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story, High Fidelity and As Good As It Gets. More recent work behind the camera and on the page included The Ice Harvest, Bedazzled and Year One, but in some instances, Ramis didn't get behind the camera or in front of it, writing scripts for Meatballs and Animal House.
The comedy world has truly lost a legend with the passing of Harold Ramis. Growing up, Ghostbusters, Groundhog Day and Vacation shaped my comedy tastes, and I've continued to rewatch them every single year, many times more than once. It's hard to imagine that projects Ramis was working on, including Ghostbusters 3, will be the same without him. Thankfully, Ramis has influencde countless comedians and filmmakers, and many of his films will stand the test of time as classics. Our thoughts go out to his friends and family during this difficult time. Rest in peace.