Monday, February 24, 2014

Harold Ramis (1944-2014)

By Michael J.W. Stickings


Harold Ramis -- actor, writer, director, comedic genius -- died early this morning from complications from autoimmune inflammatory vasculitis, a rare blood vessel disease. He was 69.

There are others who can speak more eloquently to his life and career than I can. All I want to say here is that he was hilarious, a towering giant of comedy at the very center of the comedy world of my childhood and early adulthood.

He was Egon Spengler, after all, in one of the greatest and most influential comedies ever made, one of the essential films of the '80s, perhaps the first film comedy I ever loved, and still love to this day, Ghostbusters. He was also Russell Ziskey in Stripes, another of my favorite comedies. Among other movies, he co-wrote and directed Caddyshack and Vacation, two of the most significant comedies of the '80s. And before that he co-wrote a rather famous movie called Animal House.

And then there was Groundhog Day. He directed and co-wrote that Bill Murray-starring masterpiece, one I've watched countless times. He was great as Egon, and he was a fine foil for Murray as Russell, but it's Groundhog Day where his genius most shines. It's simply an amazing movie -- dominated by Murray's performance but very much a Harold Ramis film.

The world is just so much less funny without Ramis in it. Thankfully, he left behind so much that is wonderful.

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Embedding is unfortunately disabled, but make sure to watch this video of Ramis discussing the central metaphor of Groundhog Day. Here's the preview of the movie:


And here are Murray and Ramis joining the military in Stripes:

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