It is always sad when a part of your youth and childhood becomes just another lost part of pop culture. Today , perhaps one of the greatest comic geniuses of our generation , Harold Allen Ramis , passed away at the age of 69. Ramis was a man who was known for his film characters, whether he created them or portrayed them. He was behind the helm of some of the most successful comedy films of the past thirty years. These included “Animal House” “Caddy Shack” , “Meatballs” , “Analyze This” “Groundhog Day” “Vacation” and the two “Analyze” movies . He was most known for the two characters that he brought to life on screen Russell Ziskey in “Stripes ” and Dr Egon Spengler in the “Ghostbusters” movies.
Ramis was definitely a Chicago boy, from his love of the Cubs to his upbringing. Ramis was born in the Windy City and here is a fun fact, our own Jen attended the same high school that Harold did. In fact, one of her teachers spoke about Ramis when he was a student in her classes. The same teacher also babysat Ramis as a child. Following graduation, Ramis attended Washington University in St Louis. He was also a member of the Zeta Beta Tau fraternity. Makes one wonder if his college experiences mirrored his creation “Animal House.”
After several jobs including substitute teacher and working in a mental institution, Ramis began to hone his comic skills. He wrote plays in college and also became the joke editor for the fledgling Playboy magazine. Second City presented a lot of opportunities for the young comic. It allowed him to work with some of the people who would leave a lasting impact and become his pals. Ramis became a producer on the SCTV late night sketch show in the early seventies. He also performed as part of the troupe with regulars Joe Flaherty, Christopher Guest, Gilda Radner, John Belushi, and Bill Murray.From this he left SCTV to write one of the biggest grossing comedies of all time “Animal House” became a cliche of college life for students in this time period. (yours truly ) Students were drinking and dancing with sheets draped around them at toga parties. Ramis then collaborated for the first time with lifetime pal Bill Murray for the movie , “Meatballs” Casting Murray would become a tradition for Ramis, he worked with him in the movies, “Stripes” “Caddyshack””Groundhog Day” and the “Ghostbusters” movies. In his last years, Ramis enjoyed doing small parts in such movies as “Knocked Up” “The Last Kiss” “Walk Hard : The Dewey Cox Story” and the last project he directed “Year One.”
He is survived by his present wife, Erica , and three children Violet, by his first marriage and two sons Daniel and Julian , by his present wife.
It is with sadness that we offer our thanks and sympathy to the family and friends of Mr Ramis. Words can’t describe how much you have shaped our lives and how many times we have laughed . Keep em laughin up there !!!
In 1978, Ramis wrote his first major film screenplay. Teamed with Chris Miller and Douglas Kenney, the three wrote their tribute to fraternities and toga parties, “Animal House.” To this day, it remains one of the best loved comedies and highest grossing of its time.
Ramis collaborated with another SC alum Dan Ackroyd on the hit eighties comedy, “Ghostbusters” Once again, buddy Murray tagged along . The franchise netted millions of dollars in merchandising, a successful sequel, and an amimated series.