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Harold Ramis, whether it was in his early role of the brilliantly-named Moe Green, the station manager of SCTV (and behind the scenes, where Ramis served as the show’s first head writer), or in his roles as Bill Murray’s brainier foil in Stripes and Ghostbusters, or as the director of Groundhog Day and other comedies, brought a particularly witty touch to the comedy of the mid-’70s through the 1990s, and beyond. It’s more than a little shocking to hear that he’s passed away at age 69.
While Ramis’s Egon Spengler character famously opined that “print is dead” in 1984’s comedy smash Ghostbusters, I’m linking to the printer version of his obit at the Chicago Tribune, as there’s an annoying auto-play video atop the primary article. (Click here for that one.) Mark Caro of the Tribune writes:
Ramis, a longtime North Shore resident, was surrounded by family when he died at 12:53 a.m. from complications of autoimmune inflammatory vasculitis, a rare disease that involves swelling of the blood vessels, his wife Erica Mann Ramis said. He was 69.
Ramis’ serious health struggles began in May 2010 with an infection that led to complications related to the autoimmune disease, his wife said. Ramis had to relearn to walk but suffered a relapse of the vasculitis in late 2011, said Laurel Ward, vice president of development at Ramis’ Ocean Pictures production company.
Ramis leaves behind a formidable body of work, with writing credits on such enduring comedies as “National Lampoon’s Animal House” (which upon its 1978 release catapulted the film career of John Belushi, with whom Ramis acted at Second City), “Stripes” (1981) and “Ghostbusters” (in which Ramis also co-starred) plus such directing efforts as “Caddyshack” (1980), “National Lampoon’s Vacation” (1983), “Groundhog Day” and “Analyze This.”
Previously he was the first head writer (and a performer) on Second City’s groundbreaking television series “Second City Television (SCTV)” (1976-79). More recently he directed episodes of NBC’s “The Office.”
RIP, Egon. Perhaps the surviving Ghostbusters can let us know how you’re doing on the other side.
More: “What I love most about Ramis,” John Nolte writes at Big Hollywood, “is that he was always at war with The System:”
His Ghostbusters fought an overbearing Environmental Protection Agency; his Delta House fought a corrupt university and its rich, white, joyless know-better frat boys (who now write for Business Insider); his servicemen fought the bureaucracy of the military (and for their country); his meatballs and caddys fought the snobs; his weatherman fought his own urban snobbery and narcissism.
“In the span of just six years, Ramis brought us ‘Animal House,’ ‘Caddyshack,’ ‘Stripes,’ ‘Vacation’ and ‘Ghostbusters,” Nolte adds.
Print may be dead, but read the whole thing.