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American director and actor Harold Ramis dead at 69

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Harold Ramis passed away Monday from autoimmune inflammatory vasculitis, he was 69 years old. Best known for co-starring on SCTV, "Stripes", "Ghostbusters", "Ghostbusters II" and directing the films "National Lampoon's Vacation", "Groundhog Day", "Caddyshack", "Analyze This" and "Analyze That". Ramis was also a screenwriter who wrote for television and films. He co-wrote such movies as "Armed and Dangerous", "Meatballs", "Animal House", "Stripes" and "Back to School".

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Born on November 21, 1944 in Chicago, Illinois, graduated from Washington University (Missouri) and for a time worked in a mental institution which helped him prepare for show business and in his comedic writing. He later joined the Second City comedy troupe and worked with Playboy as their joke editor. Ramis later worked with National Lampoon before joining SCTV (as an original member) as a cast member and comedic writer. After three years of working on the show, Ramis headed off to Hollywood and found success with co-writing the script to "National Lampoon's Animal House" with former N.L. colleague Douglas Kenney.

The success of "Animal House" led to writing "Meatballs", "Caddyshack" and co-starring and writing "Stripes". His biggest role as an actor would be that of Egon Spengler in the film "Ghostbusters" and its sequel "Ghostbusters II". He would reunite with Bill Murray and direct him in the quirky comedy "Groundhog Day". During the late 90's and early 2000's Ramis would continue to write and direct standard Hollywood fare off and on "Bedazzled", "Multiplicity", "Analyze This", "Analyze That" and "Year One" before returning to television when he directed several episodes for "The Office".

Harold Ramis was an entertaining innovative writer and director whose earlier work with SCTV and "National Lampoon" movies broke a lot of comedy ground and paved the way for many young filmmakers. He will be missed.

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