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Harold Ramis Dies
Superlative writer, director and actor was 69

24 February 2014  |  Written by James White  |  Source: Chicago Tribune

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The very soul of warmth, wit, humanity and humour, Harold Ramis spent his career making us laugh while at the same time, inspiring and encouraging a wealth of other talent. It’s all the more sad, then, to report that he has died at the age of 69.

A Chicago native and lifelong fan of the city, Ramis was born to shop owners in 1944. Before he started his career as a writer, he worked at a mental institution for several months, citing it genuinely as good experience for his later efforts in Hollywood.

After a stint as a substitute teacher and working with guerrilla comedy collective TVTV, he wrote freelance for the Chicago Daily News in the 1960s and editing Playboy Magazine’s Party Jokes section even as began his time with the legendary Second City comedy troupe. He left the company briefly, but returned and began working alongside the likes of John Belushi, quickly establishing himself as a fantastic writer and excellent supporting performer before becoming an actor and head writer on the troupe’s SCTV series.

From there, he starred in The National Lampoon show with Belushi and fellow Second City alumnus Bill Murray, which opened the door to films, with Ramis co-writing National Lampoon’s Animal House. The movie smashed box office records and cemented Ramis’ burgeoning career.

He co-wrote Meatballs, which Murray starred in, starting a strong partnership between the two. Ramis followed that with his directorial debut, Caddyshack, featuring Murray and a host of other funny folk. After an unsuccessful attempt to adapt John Kennedy Toole’s brilliant A Confederacy Of Dunces, Ramis began work with Dan Aykroyd on a little passion project of the actor’s called Ghostbusters.

In 1984, with Ramis and Aykroyd co-starring alongside Murray, it became one of the biggest hits of the year, and remains one of the highest grossing comedy films ever made - not to mention one of the best movies ever created. Ghostbusters II followed in 1989. Alongside the first outing for Spengler and co, most credit Groundhog Day, which Ramis wrote and directed for Murray, to be perhaps his crowning achievement.

But those are simply the tip of the iceberg in a career that also includes either writing, acting or directing such films as Multiplicity, Analyze This, As Good As It Gets, Back To School, Stripes, Knocked Up, Year One, National Lampoon's Vacation and The Ice Harvest. More recently, Ramis turned his directorial eye to shows including the US version of The Office.

Ramis moved back to his beloved Chicago in 1996, but continued to work until 2010 when he was diagnosed with an infection that led to complications related to autoimmune inflammatory vasculitis. Friends, including Murray, came to visit him as he struggled with his condition, and he finally succumbed on Monday morning surrounded by his wife and family, including his three children.

"He was like the campfire that we all gathered around for light and warmth and knowledge," his daughter Violet Stiel told The Chicago Tribune. It poured from every frame of his work into the wider world, and we’ll all miss that.


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Your Comments

RE: Stripes time!
Very sad news not only a great actor but a great director as well. RIP. More

Posted by NCC1701A at 08:40 on 25 February 2014 | Report This Post

Stripes time!
I think it's time to watch one of his best, time for stripes More

Posted by ju1cedogg1 at 00:57 on 25 February 2014 | Report This Post

Time for Stripes I think. More

Posted by ju1cedogg1 at 00:54 on 25 February 2014 | Report This Post

R.I.P Genius
One of my first films I can remember was Stripes, awesome banter between him and Murray which went on for years. SNL, Ghostbusters, and Groundhog Day .. National Lampoons vacation and animal house.. All Classics, Analyse this again a classic and the go to guy for a Doctor, R.I.P the genius that you were, Lets hope now ghostbusters 3 never sees the light of day without you..Much love to the loss to friends and family More

Posted by ju1cedogg1 at 00:52 on 25 February 2014 | Report This Post

RE: Yesterday should have been Ground Hog Day
Very sad news, 69 is no age at all. Like others have said he was a key part in what made the Ghostbusters click as a group. He was also a very talent writer and director who worked well on the big screen and small. RIP. More

Posted by ElephantBoy at 00:19 on 25 February 2014 | Report This Post

Yesterday should have been Ground Hog Day
He will be missed for his unique talent He left us with probably the most unforgettable comedy in Ground Hog Day which is a priceless piece of Cinema Art. Thank you for this Mr Ramis If only the title of the comment was true we would still have been graced with your presence More

Posted by Mebs19 at 20:59 on 24 February 2014 | Report This Post

RE: Harold Ramis Dies
This is extraordinarily bad. More

Posted by rich at 20:20 on 24 February 2014 | Report This Post

RE: Harold Ramis Dies
Egon but not forgotten. More

Posted by Biggus at 20:14 on 24 February 2014 | Report This Post

Thanks for the memories....and the laughs!
I remember sitting in a packed cinema aged 8yrs old as the entire audience jumped out of the seats at the librarian's transformation at the start of Ghostbusters. The rest of the film may have been more laughs than shocks but that bit remains my lasting memory. However, Ramis was always a joy to watch. Even in his brief cameo in "As good as it gets", he just radiates a warmth and humanity that makes you wish you knew him. RIP, Harold! More

Posted by oldstuff at 20:07 on 24 February 2014 | Report This Post

Comedy legend..
Very sad to hear this.He was a terrific writer and his performance as Dr.Egon Spengler was an integral part of what made Ghostbusters a comedy classic.RIP Mr Ramis. More

Posted by Cool Breeze at 19:57 on 24 February 2014 | Report This Post

So long Spengler
RIP. Animal House remains one of my top movies, think it deserves a play this evening. More

Posted by Schimchs at 19:11 on 24 February 2014 | Report This Post

From Buster to Busted
You think he's going to come back from the other side? And if he does who you gonna call? More

Posted by Pelle at 18:43 on 24 February 2014 | Report This Post

i collect spores molds and fungus
Another hero from my teenage years has gone...RIP More

Posted by zeech1941 at 18:24 on 24 February 2014 | Report This Post

rip Egon
very sorry to hear this . he seemed like a decent ol spud ! More

Posted by elsquig at 18:22 on 24 February 2014 | Report This Post

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