(Photo: Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Sad news for comedy fans this morning: writer, actor and director Harold Ramis died early today from autoimmune inflammatory vasculitis. He was 69.
Ramis, born and raised in Chicago, became one of Hollywood's most successful comedy filmmkers in the 1980s and '90s — and as a result, his resume reads as one long list of hits, many of them iconic for movie fans of a certain age. Ramis might be best known for his work on camera as Egon Spengler in Ghostbusters, which he co-wrote with Dan Aykroyd and starred in alongside Aykroyd and Bill Murray. But he was perhaps even more successful behind the scenes. His many writing credits include National Lampoon's Animal House, Meatballs and Caddyshack. And his directing credits (many of which he also wrote) include Groundhog Day and Analyze This.
Ramis began his career at Second City in Chicago, where he met and worked with frequent collaborators John Belushi and Bill Murray. He'd go on to be a lynchpin on the National Lampoon Show and SCTV, where he would hone his comedic sensibilities, before breaking into movies.
Here's Ramis as one of his most memorable SCTV characters, the dentist Mort Finkel:
And here he is in one of his first film roles, as Russel Ziskey in Stripes, which he also wrote:
And finally, here's Ramis's directing genius in a compilation of scenes from Groundhog Day:
In a statement, Dan Aykroyd remembered his friend: “Deeply saddened to hear of the passing of my brilliant, gifted, funny friend, co-writer/performer and teacher Harold Ramis. May he now get the answers he was always seeking.”
Jack Black, who starred with Ramis in the movie Year One, also released a statement: “Harold was a force of good in the universe. So funny, sweet and thoughtful. He will be deeply missed.”
Others who knew and worked with Ramis took to Twitter to share their condolences:
Harold Ramis. Funny, gracious, kind hearted. A joy to have known you.— Steve Carell (@SteveCarell) February 24, 2014
Sad to hear my friend Harold Ramis passed away. A brilliant, funny, actor and director. A wonderful husband and dad. Big loss to us all. bc— Billy Crystal (@BillyCrystal) February 24, 2014
RIP @HaroldRamis who was a wiz at NYTimes crossword, KIND to everyone, easy to laugh, always thoughtful, talented, loved his family...MISSED— Andie MacDowell (@AndieMacDowell3) February 24, 2014
And for more reading on Harold Ramis, we recommend this excellent obituary by Mark Caro in the Chicago Tribune.