Ramis at work on "The Ice Harvest, from 2005. Chuck Hodes/Focus Features
Let's stop for a minute to appreciate the comedy of Harold Ramis: He directed "Caddyshack" and "Groundhog Day" and co-wrote "Animal House," "Ghostbusters," "Stripes" and "Meatballs." Ramis died today in the Chicago of autoimmune inflammatory vasculitis, a disease of the blood vessels.
From the New York Times:
Mr. Ramis was a master at creating hilarious scenes and plotlines peopled by indelible characters, among them a groundskeeper obsessed with a gopher, fraternity brothers at war with a college dean and a jaded weatherman condemned to repeating Groundhog Day over and over....
“More than anyone else,” Paul Weingarten wrote in The Chicago Tribune Magazine in 1983, “Harold Ramis has shaped this generation’s ideas of what is funny.”
Mr. Ramis collaborated with the people who came to be considered the royalty of comedy in the 1970s and ‘’80s, notably from the first-generation cast of “Saturday Night Live,” including John Belushi, Dan Aykroyd and Gilda Radner.
He was born in Chicago on Nov. 21, 1944, and attended Washington University in St. Louis on a National Merit Scholarship. He graduated with a degree in English literature before going to work as an orderly in a mental hospital, a substitute teacher in inner-city Chicago and the jokes editor at Playboy.
He got his start in comedy in 1969 at Chicago’s famed Second City improvisational theater troupe, an incubator for many “Saturday Night Live” performers, including Mr. Belushi, Mr. Murray and Mr. Aykroyd.
Ramis was not asked to join "Saturday Night Live" and instead went to SCTV. Andrew Alexander, CEO & executive producer of The Second City, posted this statement:
It is impossible to overstate the personal and professional influence that Harold Ramis has had on all of us at The Second City. He was a natural leader, a trusted friend and so generous with his own talent that he made everyone he ever worked with look like a genius. We are devastated to lose him so young but we were all enriched by the years we did get to partake of his particular brilliance.