Harold Ramis, whose career as a comedian, writer, actor, and director endeared him to the masses and created such memorably hilarious works such as Stripes, Ghostbusters, Caddyshack, the first Vacation film and Groundhog Day, died today from complications of autoimmune inflammatory vasculitis, a rare disease that involves swelling of the blood vessels, according to the Chicago Tribune, who confirmed the news with Ramis’s wife Erica Mann Ramis. He was 69.
The work of Harold Ramis is like a meshing of Second City and National Lampoon (he’d been a part of both), a kind of zany art of comedy styles that lied somewhere between the chaos of a John Belushi and the down-to-earth, yet fully mired in the deadpan musings of a Bill Murray. Murray, in fact, was one of Ramis’s top bananas and cinematic cohorts: Ramis worked alongside Murray on the big screen in Stripes as his reluctant best buddy when they got themselves signed up for the Army by way of life proxy, and in Ghostbusters, as the geek-scientist-raised-to-the-highest-level Egon. Ramis also directed Murray in films like the incomparable raunchy screwball comedy on the golf links Caddyshack and the repetitive and that’s the point Groundhog Day. He also co-wrote the legendary frat comedy Animal House, which to this day, continues to inspire (albeit mostly lackluster) imitations.
In each of those films and others, whether it be on screen or behind the camera in the directorial chair, there was a kind of sly lunacy to all of Ramis’s works, his wild hair and big facial features, along with a kind of Kermit the Frog-esque vocal pattern (but with a lower register), made the Chicago native a comedic figure to look at before he even uttered a word, and once he did, he made you laugh, and he knew what buttons to push and directions to take actors to have them make you laugh as well. All his pictures had a sense of that youthful kind of off-kilter spirit, and he was an early version of a contemporary successful comedy filmmaker, something people like Judd Apatow, Shaun Levy, and Todd Phillips certainly took notice of, and the style and moxie of the works of Harold Ramis are clearly evident in the aforementioned directors’ films.
There are so many contemporary classic comedies to remember the wonderful legacy of Harold Ramis. One is urged to pop one in today and take note and account of just what a comedic genius the man was, and how effortless and jaw dropping his talents for jiggling one’s funny bone were. All of us at Geeks Of Doom are saddened by the passing of one of the all-time comedic greats. Thanks for all the laughs you gave us Harold, we are in your comedic debt forever, gloriously and thankfully.
RIP Harold Ramis
November 21, 1944 – February 24, 2014
[Source: Chicago Tribune]