Comedy actor/writer and director Harold Ramis passed away yesterday at the Age of 69, following a long battle with chronic vasculitis. The disease caused inflammation that altered the walls of his blood vessels, including weakness, thickening, and scarring, which prevented a sufficient amount of blood from reaching his organs and tissues. In fact, Ramis lost his ability to walk after suffering complications from surgery in May 2010, and spent 18 months relearning to how through therapy at the Mayo Clinic, and Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, before suffering a relapse of the disease in late 2011. According to his wife Erica Mann Ramis, he “never recovered from that relapse.”
Born in Chicago November 21, 1944, Ramis began writing parodies while attending Washington University in St. Louis and was later quoted as stating, "In my heart, I felt I was a combination of Groucho Marx who used his wit as a weapon against the upper classes, and of Harpo Marx’s antic charm which made him oddly sexy and allowed him to grab women, pull their skirts off, and get away with it".
He also reportedly admitted to taking methamphetamine in order to fail his draft physical so he could avoid being sent to fight in the Vietnam War.
He then went on to work the “guerilla TV” collective TVTV headed by his college friend Michael Shamberg, at the same time finding other employment for a time in a mental institute, public school teacher and joke writer for Playboy before joining the famed improvisational group Second City in 1974. It was there that he built his lifelong friendships with John Belushi and Bill Murray, later teaming up them with in such movies as “Stripes,” “Animal House,” “Ghostbusters” and “Ghostbusters II”, “Caddyshack,” “Groundhog Day,” and “Meatballs,” etc. as co-star, writer, director and producer.
In addition to his wife Erica, with whom he had two sons, Julian Arthur and Daniel Hayes, Ramis is survived by a daughter Violet, from his first marriage to Anne Plotkin, and two grandchildren.