Harold Ramis, the genius who wrote Animal House, Stripes, Meatballs, Ghostbusters, and Back to School, directing National Lampoon’s Family Vacation, and both writing and directing Caddyshack and Groundhog Day has died at the age of 69 following health woes that have plagued him since the start of this decade.
In addition to Ramis’ behind the scenes work in film, he also appeared on-screen as Russell Ziskey, the straight man to Bill Murray’s John Winger character in Stripes and as Dr. Egon Spangler, the ultimate dweeb who was the intellectual backbone of the Ghostbusters.
Before Ramis made his way to film, he was the first head writer on SCTV in its syndicated early glory days. Before SCTV, Ramis performed on stage for Second City and National Lampoons, also doing radio for the latter. In print, Ramis worked as a humor editor for Playboy.
It’s a shame that the guy on the poster gets more attention than the small print names underneath that make it all possible. Harold Ramis was comedy’s pilot light. That’s the best way to describe a man who created some of the funniest (and by extension, smartest) things that human beings have ever created. There’s such grandeur to those words, but so much truth as well.
If you are funny or if you love funny, then this is a monstrous blow and a theft by the thing that keeps taking. Pete Venkman died today, so did Ty Webb and Bluto — Harold Ramis put as much into those characters as the guys who portrayed them, giving them their words and their purpose while Murray, Chase, and Belushi gave them their souls. I imagine those guys would say or would have said the same thing. Honestly, I can’t imagine what Bill Murray’s career would have been like without Ramis’ work. Though they haven’t worked together in 20 years, that is the most formidable comedy team in the last 40 years. They are peerless.
Think about that impact and think about the impact that Ramis had on people like Judd Apatow, Dan Harmon, and virtually every working or striving comedic mind. Ramis’ work inspired and awed them.
Besides his work, all indications are that this was a good man, a man who had a guiding and able hand with young talent, who was gregarious and giving to friends and family. A man who was loved and who loved back. The nice things that people say about people when they die, these are things that have been said about Ramis for his whole life. His hometown paper, the Chicago Tribune said it best, Harold Ramis was a mensch.
Rest in Peace, Harold Ramis. May you get the best of whats available in the great beyond.
Source: Chicago Tribune