Obit of the Day: Writer, Director, Actor Harold Ramis
To find comedy talent, you don’t have to look much further than Harold Ramis. Mr. Ramis wrote, directed, and starred in some of the greatest comedies in American film history.
Getting his start with the famed Second City Theater in Chicago, Mr. Ramis moved to New York to become a writer for National Lampoon joining Bill Murray, John Belushi, and Gilda Radner. He would later become the first head writer for SCTV - while he colleagues all joined the new sketch-based late night show Saturday Night Live.
His first film screenplay, Animal House (1978), which documented the chaotic happening at Delta Tau Chi fraternity was his first big hit, and also a breakout for Mr. Belushi. Over the next decade Mr. Ramis would write and direct some of the most beloved comedy films of all time. He co-wrote scripts for Cadddyshack (1980), Stripes (1981), Ghostbusters (1984) and Back to School (1984). He was also behind the camera for Caddyshack and National Lampoon’s Vacation - both of which starred another SNL alum, Chevy Chase.
Mr. Ramis, who had co-starring roles in Stripes and Ghostbusters (as well as its sequel), slowed his output in the 1990s but still managed to find success on the big screen. His 1993 classic Groundhog Day was ranked the 34th best comedy of all-time by the American Film Institute*. (According to Mr. Ramis this was also the film that forever damaged his relationship with Mr. Murray. They had differing visions on the focus of the film’s message.) He also wrote and directed the 1999 Billy Crystal-Robert DeNiro hit Analyze This.
Mr. Ramis also starred in films that he neither directed nor wrote, including As Good As It Gets (1997), Knocked Up (2007), and Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story (2007). At the time of his death Mr. Ramis had no current projects, and his last film credit was for the Jack Black-Michael Cera caveman comedy Year One (2009).
Harold Ramis, who was a native of Chicago and graduate of Washington University in St. Louis, died from autoimmune inflammatory vasculitis, on February 24, 2014. He was 69 years old.
Sources: Chicago Tribune and IMDB.com
(Image of Mr. Ramis as Egon Spengler, the serious scientist in Ghostbusters, circa 1984 is copyright of Columbia Pictures and courtesy of mennascope)
Also of interest:
Bernie Sahlins - Co-founder of Second City
Joyce Sloane - Second City producer who discovered John Belushi
And Obit of the Day’s Film page is always interesting