Harold Ramis Dead at Age 69

Posted by at 11:09 am on February 24, 2014

Harold RamisHarold Ramis,the actor and writer-director, known for playing Egon Spengler in the Ghostbusters films and for directing comedies such as Groundhog Day and Caddyshack, died earlier today

Harold Ramis, who helped catch phantoms in Ghostbusters and directed Bill Murray to glory in Groundhog Day, has died at the age of 69. A leading light of 80s American comedy, Ramis had been suffering from autoimmune inflammatory vasculitis for several years.

Born in Chicago, Ramis worked as a teacher and journalist before teaming up with comedians John Belushi and Bill Murray for the wildly successful National Lampoon Radio Hour in 1973. The crew later branched out into film with National Lampoon’s Animal House in 1978. Following Belushi’s death from a drug overdose, Ramis and Murray went onto star alongside Dan Ackroyd in the 1984 hit Ghostbusters.
Harold Ramis, Ernie Hudson, Bill Murray and Dan Aykroyd in Ghostbusters (1984) Ramis (left) with his Ghostbuster co-stars Ernie Hudson, Bill Murray and Dan Aykroyd in 1984. Photograph: SNAP/Rex Features

Ramis made his directing debut with 1980’s Caddyshack, though his best-loved picture remains 1993’s Groundhog Day, starring Murray as a self-absorbed TV weatherman. In 2006 the comedy was added to the US National Film Registry as a “culturally, historically or aesthetically significant” work of cinema.

Ramis enjoyed another box office hit in with the 1999 Mafia comedy Analyse This, starring Billy Crystal and Robert De Niro. On screen he appeared in Knocked Up, Year One and the Oscar-winning As Good As it Gets.

At the peak of his success, Ramis would claim that his anarchic, freewheeling comic style was inspired both by an early love of the Marx brothers and a brief, post-college job working at a Missouri mental institution. “It prepared me for when I went out to Hollywood to work with actors,” he explained. “And not just with actors. It was good training for just living in the world.”

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