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Film News: Director, Comic Actor Harold Ramis Dead at 69

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CHICAGO – He was a Ghostbuster, and Bill Murray’s sidekick in “Stripes.” He co-wrote classic modern comedies like “Animal House” and “Caddyshack.” He directed the legendary absurdist comedy, “Groundhog Day.” He is Harold Ramis, and he died on February 24th, according to his wife Erica Mann Ramis.

Harold Ramis
Harold Ramis in Chicago, June of 2009
Photo credit: Joe Arce of Starstruck Foto for HollywoodChicago.com

The multi-talented Ramis – who also co-wrote the “Ghostbusters,” “Stripes and “Meatballs,” and directed “Caddyshack,” “National Lampoon’s Vacation” “Multiplicity“ and “Analyze This” – was as well a performer and head writer on television’s iconic 1970s comedy series, “SCTV.” In addition, he was born in Chicago, developed his comic chops at The Second City stage on Wells Street, and eventually set up residence in the North Shore suburbs.

Harold Allen Ramis was born in Chicago in 1944, and was an alumni of the city’s Senn High School. After graduating from Washington University in St. Louis, he returned to the Windy City and worked a series of writing jobs for the Chicago Daily News and Playboy Magazine, while studying and performing the comic craft at The Second City. He was famously replaced in the main stage cast by John Belushi in 1972, and Belushi later brought him to New York City, where he worked for the “National Lampoon Radio Hour.” This morphed into a National Lampoon Revue on Broadway, and the cast from that show became part of the first casts for “Saturday Night Live” and “SCTV” in the mid 1970s (in Chicago, “SCTV” – which was syndicated – first began as a follow-up to “SNL” on Saturday nights). Performing with Ramis on “SCTV” was John Candy, Joe Flaherty, Eugene Levy, Dave Thomas, Andrea Martin and Catherine O’Hara.

After leaving SCTV in 1979, Ramis began his string of co-writing or directing those huge hit comedy movies, culminating in 1993 with what is considered a modern day classic, the hilarious and existential “Groundhog Day,” filmed in nearby Woodstock, Illinois, and featuring Bill Murray. He continued to write, direct and perform sporadically throughout the rest of his career, and his last directorial effort was “Year One” in 2009.

Harold Ramis
‘Groundhog Day’ with Bill Murray and Director Harold Ramis, Who Also Portrayed a Doctor in the Film
Photo credit: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

Harold Ramis passed away shortly after midnight on February 24th, from complications due to autoimmune Inflammatory vasculitis, a disease that swells the blood vessels. He is survived by his wife Erica Mann Ramis, and three children.

He once talked about the philosophy of comedy…”Well, for me, it’s the relationship between comedy and life - that’s the edge I live on, and maybe it’s my protection against looking at the tragedy of it all. It’s seeing life in balance. Comedy and tragedy co-exist. You can’t have one without the other. I’m of the school that anything can be funny, if seen from a comedic point of view.”

Source material for this article came from Wikipedia, imdb.com and the Chicago Tribune. Harold Ramis, 1944-2014.

HollywoodChicago.com senior staff writer Patrick McDonald

By PATRICK McDONALD
Senior Staff Writer
HollywoodChicago.com
pat@hollywoodchicago.com

© 2014 Patrick McDonald, HollywoodChicago.com

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