Earlier today CBS reported that Harold Ramis, who penned the scripts for the “Ghostbusters” movies as well as starring as Dr. Egon Spengler, has permanently hung up his proton pack. The 69-year-old comedy icon passed early this morning in his Chicago home due to complications from autoimmune inflammatory vasculitis.
His wife, Erica Ramis, and other family members were tending to him when died. Although she did not specify when he was diagnosed, Mrs. Ramis told the Chicago Tribune that her husband's “serious” health issues started in May of 2010. After an infection, Harold Ramis's condition deteriorated badly enough that he had to undergo physical therapy to train himself to walk again. His last relapse with the autoimmune disease occurred in late 2011.
Harold Ramis was as well known for his script-writing and directing as for his acting. Among Ramis's most celebrated scripts are “National Lampoon's Animal House,” “Stripes,” and “Groundhog Day.” “Caddy Shack” served as his directorial debut. In Ramis's most recent work, “Year One,” he was a triple threat, performing as the script writer, an actor and the director.
In a 1999 Chicago Tribune interview, Ramis explained how he came to represent the calm, dead-pan professional on-screen. “The moment I knew I wouldn't be any huge comedy star was when I got on stage with John Belushi for the first time," he said. "When I saw how far he was willing to go to get a laugh or to make a point on stage, the language he would use, how physical he was, throwing himself literally off the stage, taking big falls, strangling other actors, I thought: I'm never going to be this big. How could I ever get enough attention on a stage with guys like this?...I stopped being the zany. I let John be the zany. I learned that my thing was lobbing in great lines here and there, which would score big and keep me there on the stage...It's my shield and my armor in the work I do... to keep a cheerful, Zen-like detachment from everything." Ramis also explained that he moved back to Chicago after living in L.A. because the city's atmosphere was comparable to “high school.”
Bill Murray echoed the sentiments of fellow comedians and fans tweeting, “deeply saddened to hear of the passing of my brilliant, gifted, funny friend, co-writer/performer and teacher Harold Ramis. May he now get the answers he was always seeking”