'Ghostbusters,' 'Stripes' actor also successful as director, writer
"Caddyshack.""National Lampoon's Animal House.""Ghostbusters.""Groundhog Day.""Stripes."
Those titles are some of the most beloved and widely quoted comedy classics of the last thirty years. They're also Harold Ramis' filmography.
Ramis, the writer-director-actor who quietly and often off-screen created an unparalleled and hugely influential body of laughs, died Monday. He was 69.
He suffered for several years from an autoimmune disease that caused inflammation and damage to his blood vessels, and died at his home in the Chicago suburbs, surrounded by family and friends, his talent agency said.
His legacy as a father figure to generations of comedians was appropriately captured in Judd Apatow's "Knocked Up," in which Ramis was cast as Seth Rogen's father, he said, "because we all saw him as the dream dad."
"Harold Ramis made almost every movie which made me want to become a comedy director," Apatow said. "These films are the touchstones of our lives."
Chevy Chase, whom Ramis directed in "Caddyshack" and "National Lampoon's Vacation," called him "a great man who shunned unnecessary Hollywood-type publicity."
"It was Harold who acted out and gave me the inspiration for the character of Clark Griswold," Chase said Monday. "I was really copying Harold's impression of Clark."
Admittedly lacking the dashing leading-man looks of some of his peers, Ramis was memorably nebbish: curly haired, gangly and bespectacled. He played Ghostbuster scientist Egon Spengler (naturally, the one with all the ideas), and Bill Murray's Army recruit buddy in "Stripes."
But Ramis, a Chicago native and early member of the improv comedy troupe Second City, was a far larger force behind the camera. He co-wrote and directed "Caddyshack,""Groundhog Day," and "Analyze This." He also helped pen "Meatballs,""Stripes" and "Ghostbusters."
Ramis could be reasonably credited with making more people roll in the aisles from the late '70s to the early '90s than most anyone else. Murray, Ramis' frequent collaborator, said in a statement: "He earned his place on this planet."