Harold Ramis 1944-2014

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I am sure you have heard the news by now. I am a little late to the party posting this. I almost didn’t because it’s everywhere else. But given the death of someone who has meant so much to my life, it seems wrong to not chronicle the event.

Harold Ramis, actor/writer/director, died yesterday due to complications from┬ácomplications of autoimmune inflammatory vasculitis. He had been in failing health since about 2010. Ramis leaves behind an incredible body of work. Most famous for playing Dr. Egon Spengler in Ghostbusters, he also served as a writer on that film helping Dan Aykroyd shape his concept into the comedy that is still beloved today. But the scope of his career is not limited to battling ghouls. He has worked with such legendary comedy troupes as National Lampoon and Second City during a generation that gave us some of the greatest comedians of all time. He moved on to TV and movies, serving as head writer on Canada’s SCTV, and writing or directing such films as Caddyshack, National Lampoon’s Vacation, National Lampoon’s Animal House, Stripes, Meatballs, Ghostbusters, Analyze This and Groundhog Day, which may very well be one of the greatest written comedies of all time.

It’s no secret what Ghostbusters means to me and my life. The film shaped both my sense of humour and inspired my fascination with the art of filmmaking. Ramis’ role in that movie was integral, helping to rein in Aykroyd’s more outlandish ideas and grounding it in reality despite the supernatural and sci-fi elements. At the core Ghostbusters is about three friends, down on their luck but discovering an incredible breakthrough that ends up making the quartet of misfits (I won’t forget Winston) into genuine heroes. The sense of camaraderie and ordinary no-bodies were staples of Ramis’ writing. And comic flare, dry wit and stark sarcasm of the film are very much in his style of humour (just look at any line by Egon in that film). Ramis’ touch is all over that film and it wouldn’t be the same without him.

He leaves behind a body of work that will not be forgotten and has unquestionably inspired a generation of comics and filmmakers. I owe so much to that man so today I will be paying tribute.

To paraphase the movie: It’s been ┬ápleasure Dr Spengler. See you on the other side, Egon.

Thank you Harold Ramis.

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