Harold Ramis is dead at the age of 69. The comedy legend was surrounded by friends and family as a condition he has been battling since 2010 took him from us.
We will all remember Harold Ramis for his straight man role in the Ghostbusters films, which to this day remain some of the most successful comedies to date. He helped launch the careers of Bill Murray, Dan Akroyd, Ernie Hudson, Sigourney Weaver, and Rick Moranis with a hilarious take on the paranormal and mankind’s fear of it. The first film was so successful that it made the sequel an instant hit, despite not achieving the critical acclaim of the original.
There have also been rumors of Ghostbusters 3 being currently in production, but now it will need a different writer and star to move forward.
Harold Ramis also created the comedy hit Groundhog Day, which itself made a national celebration about Punxsutawney Phil also known as “Bill Murray Day.” He costarred with Bill Murray in the US Army sendup Stripes, which he also wrote.
News of Harold Ramis’ death follows his struggle with a rare disease known as autoimmune inflammatory vasculitis, which causes swelling of the blood vessels, according to wife Erica Mann Ramis. He was diagnosed in May 2010 and had to learn to walk all over again. In late 2011, he relapsed and has suffered complications from the disease ever since. His suffering was over at around 1AM this morning.
After declaring Harold Ramis dead, we can now only reflect on his impressive body of work, which includes the films mentioned above as well as National Lampoon’s Animal House (which launched the career of John Belushi), Caddyshack, and Analyze This. Often starring in his own films, Ramis was known for his writing and directing talents.
His latest work was 2009’s Year One, alongside Jack Black and Olivia Wilde.
The late Second City founder Bernie Sahlins remarked in 1999 that Harold Ramis never changed:
“He’s the least changed by success of anyone I know in terms of sense of humor, of humility, sense of self. He’s the same Harold he was 30 years ago. He’s had enormous success relatively, but none of it has gone to his head in any way.”
After directing the mobster-in-therapy comedy Analyze This, Harold Ramis was quoted as saying:
“There’s a pride in what I do that other people share because I’m local, which in LA is meaningless; no one’s local. It’s a good thing. I feel like I represent the city in a certain way.”
Harold Ramis’ death may have taken a comedy legend from us, but he will always live on in the hearts of those who knew him as a witty, intelligent, and all around good guy who never let his success inflate his ego.
Rest in peace, Harold Ramis. You inspired us all.